Jane Kramer + Ben Phan and the Soul Symphony

Upcoming Shows:

Jane Kramer + Ben Phan and the Soul Symphony

Lauded by UK music reviewer Three Chords and the Truth as sounding like she was “…born to gypsy poets and raised by Emmylou Harris,” Asheville, North Carolina-based songstress Jane Kramer has garnered international recognition for the sultry, heartrending originality of her vocals and for the heavy-hitting lyrical eloquence of her songwriting.

With deep roots in the traditional music of her beloved Appalachia, Kramer’s songs are introspective and gritty. They elegantly sweep listeners down the gravel roads and southern coastal highways, midnight truck stops and lonely motel rooms of “hard learning” and lead home to the wooded Blue Ridge Mountains with moving acceptance of our flawed human experience. Kramer’s live performances are equally as poignant and engaging; rich with accessible, warm, often hilarious storytelling and gracefully lifting the veil between audience and performer.

Following the February 2016 release of her second solo studio album, Carnival of Hopes, Kramer has been touring nationally and internationally, playing for sold-out audiences in listening rooms, theaters, pubs, festivals, living rooms and arts councils in support of the record. This has gained her a loyal following from Portland, Oregon to Scotland, U.K.

A social worker, former domestic violence crisis counselor and avid humanitarian, Kramer continues to perform and teach about the songwriting process in prisons, rescue missions, programs for at-risk youth, classrooms and hospitals, sharing her message of music as a powerful tool for healing.

Whether Kramer is solo, wielding only her EJ Henderson guitar and her most important instrument: her emotive, ethereal voice, or backed by her full band featuring the virtuostic instrumentalists that comprise Asheville’s Free Planet Radio and internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist Billy Cardine (Biscuit Burners, Acoustic Syndicate, The Bluegrass Journeymen), the power and poignance of this truly gifted songstress is deeply felt and long-remembered.

Quoted as “…an artist on the rise” by acclaimed American songwriter Mary Gauthier and as “…a voice that can only be described as one of the purest in modern Americana” By Dave Stallard of Blue Ridge Outdoors, Kramer has performed with such well-known artists as Joan Osborne, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Appalachian troubadour Malcolm Holcombe, two-time Grammy award-winning bassist Eliot Wadopian, The Steep Canyon Rangers and Leyla McCalla. Phan is a prolific poet, songwriter, and guitarist, with the soul of an improviser. He crafts his songs to give room for presence, self-expression, and improvisation in the moment. He believes that the best live music is when everyone playing is co -creating – which means that every one of his concerts offers audiences a different sound and a unique experience.

A year of jazz conservatory at Virginia Commonwealth University left Ben Phan rebellious: uninspired by the environment and fed-up with the structure, he knew he didn’t want to be an academic musician.

So Phan began his professional career as a founding member of the Richmond Afrobeat Movement, a blend of jazz, funk and African dance music which earned significant attention in the South, including a TV appearance and other media features.

A stint as Musical Director for Free Run Wine Merchants gave Phan a chance to develop his professional skills, setting up musical events for the company, which included solo jazz gigs as well as band arrangements.

Phan then joined a bluegrass and folk band, the Rusty Strings, and discovered the joy in sitting on a porch and singing together with others, simply for the love of music.

In 2014, Phan decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and his life changed forever. Along with everything else he needed, he carried a mini-guitar on his back and became known by the name “Shredder” because of how he “shredded the guitar” when he played. Five months of travel on foot, 2,668 miles from the Mexican border all the way into Canada, playing for himself and the people he met, transformed his relationship with music. He began writing songs, drawn from his experiences on the trail as well as his past struggles with depression, addiction, loss and love. The music offered hope and solace, to him and to his audiences.

The time on the Pacific Crest Trail renewed Phan’s passion for music. With a prolific body of original work, he returned to Asheville to record his first solo EP, “Hold On, Let Go.” He assembled a band, made up of some of the best musicians in Asheville: besides liking his music, they appreciate the dedication and professionalism Phan brings to his work. The band released it's debut album, "Dreams in Modern Folk", to a sold out crowd at the Altamont Theatre, one of Asheville's finest listening rooms. The band continued to perform successful shows over the following year, refining their high energy sound which combines fiery improvisation with rich composition. This led to a successful kickstarter campaign to fund their next album, "Fear is the Teacher", which the band recorded with two time Grammy winning producer Matt Williams. Phan continues to perform with the band, as a solo artist, and in collaborations with other musicians; he has also built a successful guitar teaching practice, which he finds a great source of inspiration.

Phan is a prolific poet, songwriter, and guitarist, with the soul of an improviser. He crafts his songs to give room for improvisation, presence, and self-expression in the moment. He believes that the best live music is when everyone playing is co-creating – which means that every one of his concerts offers audiences a different sound and a unique experience.