Bringing the blues

Ben Caplan doesn’t plan on taking any breaks

Caplan is nominated for two East Coast Music Awards this year for his blues style music.
Caplan is nominated for two East Coast Music Awards this year for his blues style music.
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Ben Caplan recalls one instance while touring when speeding down a German highway to get to a show got him and his band into trouble with the German police.
Ben Caplan recalls one instance while touring when speeding down a German highway to get to a show got him and his band into trouble with the German police.
Photo: 

If Ben Caplan’s tour bus caught fire, he knows exactly what he’d grab first.

“I’d get my guitar, then my keyboard, then my suit and then my yoga mat.” He and backup band The Casual Smokers are currently on tour with dates set for all around southern Ontario.

Caplan said the band is then heading to Quebec to finish off the tour’s first leg. They’ll soon head out east to play at the East Coast Music Awards in March.

Nominated for two awards for his Tom Waits style music, Caplan is self-described as “a blend between folk and blues, with a heavy dose of Eastern European jazz.” Caplan said he derives his musical inspiration from great songwriters.

“I think there’s songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell whose lyrics are poetically informed — they have a universal approach to songwriting,” he said.

While writing his own lyrics, Caplan references his inspirations like Cohen, Dylan and Mitchell.

“Lyrics aren’t placeholders for melodies, those are much more important, but my songwriting comes from reading a lot of poetry as well.” Caplan said once his tour is finished, he’s going right back into the studio.

Pre-production starts at the end of the current tour, and he hopes to have his next album done by the end of the summer.

As the years of touring have accumulated, so has Caplan’s touring wisdom — for example, don’t speed down a German motorway.

Caplan recalls one European tour when the band was late for a show in Amsterdam and got lost on the way.

“We drove the wrong direction first, then we hit deadlock traffic on the German autobahn,” he said. “So we gunned it full speed down the shoulder lane.”

Caplan and the band ended up missing the show, and without any luck that day, the German police also pulled them over.

“The police officers were yelling at us in German and threatened to have us deported … I’ve learned a lot about touring since then, like you always want to leave a day early.”

Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers play the Mansion on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

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