This article was originally available in Stephen Hunt’s blog for the Calgary Herald back in 2010. We thought we’d bring it up again here. Ben used to busk on Stephen Avenue like nobody’s business. He made the street his stage and he brought the house down every night. Thanks again to Stephen for the good words. Here’s a look at how it happened:
Welcome to the Ben Rose Lounge
It was early-ish — 7:30pm — on an astonishingly beautiful late September night and Stephen Avenue was hopping.
The outdoor patios were busy. After two of the most horrible weeks of early-autumn weather imaginable, this day was so gorgeous, it was almost like Mother Nature granted our city a bonus beautiful day, sort of the natural equivalent of getting 20x your Shoppers’ Optimum points.
I was hoofing it to the Epcor Centre, like thousands of others, to see a show — in my case, the excellent new production of Goodness, the latest production by Downstage, the Epcor Centre’s tiny, perfect theatre,. no-budget theatre company which just won a $25,000 award last week.
But there wasn’t just Goodness to see. There was Theatre Calgary’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There was Alberta Theatre Projects’ production of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad. There was something else (I don’t know what) at the Jack Singer.
And I was early. (Never happens.) Had a half hour to kill. No need to kill it sitting inside the Epcor Centre on such a beautiful night, so I pulled up on a park bench to enjoy the weather.
And right over there, a busker in a taupe suit sang a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. On either side, diners at Divino and the other outdoor patios on Stephen Avenue sat and listened, somewhat rapturously. A woman and two companions walked by, ackowledging the moment, and the glorious weather, and said, “This! This is life!”
The singer was Ben Rose, the busker-in-residence on Stephen Avenue, who is a regular presence there–when it’s not feeling like November in early September.
Rose is well known to people who like to sit out on Stephen Avenue and have a glass of wine, or nosh on a steak. In fact, he’s sort of like a longstanding lounge act, only he’s outdoors, playing for three or four different patios at the same moment, instead of inside, stuck playing for one.
Lucky for us pedestrians. Lucky for those patio patrons. It’s almost as if Ben turned Stephen Avenue into The Ben Rose Lounge for a night.