Ben Harper: Pleasure and Pain | Chicago Reader

Ben Harper: Pleasure and Pain

Like his idol Jimi Hendrix, roots rocker Ben Harper can do anything with a guitar but draw black listeners; though his accomplished blend of folk, blues, and hard rock has made him an icon to postcollegiate Deadheads, his understanding of the music often seems as vicarious as theirs. This adoring 2002 profile by Danny Clinch follows Harper and his band, Innocent Criminals, on tour in the U.S. and Europe. The most revealing scenes take place in Harper's hometown of Claremont, California, where he grew up playing every stringed instrument in his grandparents' music store. His eloquence about his craft keeps this interesting for a while, but like his stage show, this leisurely parade of performance footage and backstage rumination wore me out long before the lights came up. 92 min.

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