Whether you stumble upon the Mount Vernon Quad on your way to get a late lunch at Ames or brave the shuttle to see one of your favorite bands, make sure to spend your Saturday on the Quad for Fountain Day.
Typically held to celebrate the turning on of the main fountain on the Mount Vernon Campus, Fountain Day also brings arts and crafts, free food and live music to the typically underappreciated campus. Sponsored by Program Board, this year’s celebration features singer-songwriter, pianist, and harmonica player Ben Kweller.
Kweller learned how to play his first instrument at age 7 when his father, a musician, taught him to play the drums. Two years later, he wrote his first song, and two years after that he received his first guitar.
His high school band Radish brought this musical prodigy to the mainstream. The four boys from Texas traveled the world, scoring gigs at the famous Reading Festival in England and playing with Joe Strummer (The Clash) and Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), while recording four full-length albums.
In 2000, Kweller wrote and recorded his solo debut, “Freak Out, It’s Ben Kweller,” and took up residence in New York City. In New York, he developed a unique sound for indie-rock, often involving any and every instrument he could find. Kweller’s blend of acoustic rock, classical piano and power-pop set him apart from the fledgling NYC indie-rock crowd. After playing show after show, Evan Dando (front-man for The Lemonheads) called up Kweller and asked him to go on tour with him.
In late 2001, Kweller was approached to join a new label created by Dave Matthews. He signed to ATO in December of that year and released his first full-length album in March 2002. Supporting tours with Dashboard Confessional, The Strokes and Dave Matthews Band boosted Kweller’s fan base around the country. With the release of his second album in April 2004, Kweller was a household name.
Although “On My Way” wasn’t a great critical hit, it’s still a fan favorite. Before he released the album, Ben teamed up with two other musical Bens (Ben Lee and Ben Folds) to record an EP and tour coastal Australia. This indie-pop conglomeration brought new fans to all of the Bens’ music.
At just 25 years old, Kweller has three successful albums under his belt. His latest, self-titled release came out last fall to critical success. Until “Ben Kweller,” all his music was recorded in New York. For this record, Kweller dedicated himself completely to the album. He packed up and moved to Los Angeles to create his first fully solo release since the days of writing songs at his family’s piano; in true Kweller fashion, he wrote every song and played every instrument on the album.
Joining Kweller on the Fountain Day stage is another singer-songwriter Derek James and GW indie-rockers Jukebox the Ghost. The Fountain Day festivities begin at 3:30 pm and are located on the Mount Vernon Quad. Free food and supplies for arts and crafts will be provided.