WHO: Bennie James.
FROM: Nowra, NSW, Australia.
FIRST TIME: I’m going to say the Tea Club and I’m going to say 2006. Don’t quote me on it.
TENTH TIME: Upstairs at City Diggers, Wollongong; January 28, 2012.
There’s a Kanye West lyric that goes: “Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion/I wish her heart still was in rhyming.” I wish Bennie James’ heart was still in music. He’s part of an incredible musical family – his father directed a school musical I was in and his sister is a great singer-songwriter in her own right – but sightings of the man are few and far between. I grew up literally down the road from the guy, but we never really crossed paths until my mid-teens when we ended up in the aformentioned musical. My part wasn’t much, but hey.
We bonded over a lot of the same music, and he showed me some home recordings of his own songs that he’d done on his Zune – yeah, this dates the conversation, doesn’t it? I grew up with his music, too – his backing band, The Hesitant Few, all became good friends; and we went through some pretty memorable experiences together. Even some band comps. Shudder. Anyway, the tenth time in 2012 was, sadly, the last I saw of him. He’s not dead, he’s just in hiding somewhere. I hope he comes out again someday.
– DJY, April 2014