By Danni Bauer
CALGARY — If you ever have a chance to speak with Benjamin Francis Leftwich (BFL) at his show, take the chance, even if you are too shy, to say hi. He is an extraordinary human being. Last time we spoke to BFL in 2013 he had to cancel part of his American tour after his father, Adrian Leftwich, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He returned home to be with his Dad. In April 2013, Benjamin’s number one friend and inspiration, passed away. There is a certain expectation we have when we lose someone, that, one day, everything will fall back into place when you are fully healed. Thing is, you never fully heal, it changes you, and you learn to live with the loss. At 23, he did the only thing he thought would help him grieve. He disappeared from music, into his father’s old home in York, England.
He resurfaced in February 2016 with a post explaining his absence for the last few years, in it he wrote, “Everyone deals with loss is their own way and each way is valid and beautiful. I was broken for a while but putting what I wanted into songs has helped carry me back into the world.” Those songs would become his follow-up album to Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm entitled After the Rain, seems fitting after all that he had gone through over the three-year period. The post created an outpour of love and support from fans, sharing their sympathy and stories of their loss of loved ones. There are 364 heartwarming posts from fans, and there was Benjamin with a heartfelt thank you in response to each and every one. That is the key here; he is a genuine individual so this kind of act comes very natural for him. He cares deeply for people and what they are going through, and his fans feel that from him; it makes him relatable, trusting and comforting, and that translates into his music:“I hear those kinds of compliments from people a lot, and it means the world to me. It means more than any kind of physical or commercial success. It’s a really special thing to be a part of, and I am really aware of that. Some of these things, these stories that I have heard from people are so deep that I could never repeat to anyone. Some are so deep in detail. It would just not be right. I am very humbled that my music has helped people through the worst and hardest thing people can go through.”
His live shows feel as though you’re hanging out with a friend. He creates the same connection with his audience as he does with everyone he talks to. “I know that you all hear this all the time, but I fucking love Canada, I really do,” he said between songs at Communitea Cafe in Canmore on Wednesday night. He’s charming, captivating and open with his audience, and with everything going on in the world, knowing that there are people like Benjamin Francis Leftwich out there making beautiful music and playing his wonderful shows, it’s kind of like the hug we all need.
Catch BFL in Edmonton Feb. 11 at Needle Vinyl Tavern, in Regina Feb. 12 at Capitol Music Club, and in Winnipeg Feb. 13 at Park Theatre.AB, Alberta, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Capitol Music Club, Manitoba, MB, Needle Vinyl Tavern, Park Theatre, Saskatchewan, SK