Rocker sings about life in the food industry


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mp3 sample: Ben Weaver

"The Rooster's Wife"

For musician Ben Weaver, mirepoix isn't just a culinary term for the mixture of celery, carrots, and onions. It's also the name of his newest album, Mirepoix & Smoke, which is based on the artist's experience working in the restaurant business.

But he never dreamed working with meats and vegetables would influence his music as much as it did.

At 9 p.m. today, the culinary musician will play music from his new album at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is free.

Weaver recorded his first CD in 1999, where he started out playing in coffeehouses and local businesses.

Though he is a skilled guitarist now, he didn't learn how to play until ninth grade, so before he began his career in music, he occupied himself by writing poetry.

"I was always doing things to express myself," he said. "My music and poetry are kind of related to each other; I need to have them both in my life."

Mirepoix & Smoke is the seventh album Weaver has recorded. Recently, he took a year and half off to work as a prep cook at a farm-to-table restaurant in Minneapolis. Everything in the restaurant was made from scratch, and this experience influenced Weaver's new record.

"The whole process of learning something new and making food was mystical and magical, just like I see music," he said. "It indirectly more than directly inspired this new record."

Not only is the album about his culinary experience, but a lot of the songs are stories or personal experiences he encountered throughout his stint as a cook.

"The album is about my food experience more literally than emotionally," he said.

Weaver has performed at the Mill more than half a dozen times, but this will be the first time he will perform since taking time off for his job at the restaurant.

"Ben Weaver has a knack for interesting songwriting and also possesses a really good ear for arrangements," said Andre Perry, a talent buyer at the Mill. "His mix of indie-folk tendencies and electronic soundscapes is particularly appealing."

Weaver is on a tour through the Midwest, and once it's over, he will head east. This is the seventh year he has toured during his career.

While he says he doesn't have any favorite performances while on tour, there was one show in particular that sticks out in his head.

"I remember having a really fun time at a show with Greg Brown in Seattle," Weaver said. "At the end of the show, he had me come up on stage and play a Neil Young song with him for the encore."

But for this culinary musician, it's not about just touring across the country, jamming with fellow artists, and perfecting his cooking skills. What he loves more than anything are his fans.

"I think everything fans need to know is in the songs," Weaver said. "It's really great when people listen to my music, because then I know that I'm connecting with them."

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