Five questions for 'The Bluesman'

By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 25, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham The Bluesman himself Paul Benjamin takes a few minutes out of his busy schedule to let us know a little bit more about the man behind the tuxedos.

You have seen him around, mostly on some type of stage, usually with a microphone in hand, and most often donning an extremely fashionable tuxedo.

Paul Benjamin — a.k.a. The Bluesman — was born in Rumford, and was brought up on jazz and blues as his parents were huge music fans.

Benjamin moved to Rockland in 1973 when he got out of the United States Marine Corps, and served on the Rockland Police Department from 1976 to 1982.

He is the current president of the Rockland Main Street board and the founder of the North Atlantic Blues Festival. Benjamin also serves as president of the KoKo Taylor Foundation in Chicago, on the executive board of directors of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., and serves on the Maine Arts Commission. He also consults for festivals all over the country.

Benjamin took a few minutes to answer these five questions:

How did you get started in the music industry?

"I started bringing blues to Rockland in 1978. I just started to book bands from away and find places for them to play. I ran a club at the Trade Winds for a number of years in the early 80s to mid-90s."

How did the Blues Festival get started?

"I did the Trade Winds Blues Bash in the parking lot for four years from 1990 to 1993, then in 1994 the North Atlantic Blues Festival started in the public landing, and it has been a great ride since then."

What is the most memorable venue you have been in?

"Sitting at a private party in Chicago at a table with Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley at two in the morning was pretty cool."

Who is your favorite band?

"There are a lot of them. I would have to say the band that I am seeing at that time, but my all-time favorite would be Albert Collins."

How many tuxedos do you have?

"Twelve."

"Blues is my business and business is good," said Benjamin, adding he could not do what he does without the support of his wife, Jean and his family.

If you know of a candidate for Five Questions, email Beth A. Birmingham at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

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