2017-02-01 / Features

BEN LOFTIN & the Family

By Lisa Newell

Ben Loftin is an entertainer. Yes, he is a musician but he has a transformative power to engage with the audience in an infectious way. Before long, the whole room is on its feet, swaying and singing along.

Perhaps the chemistry originates because The Ben Loftin Band formed when some of the members were in the jazz band in middle school in Pensacola. Others joined in high school and the others, the newbies, have been part of the band for nearly three years.

The group, which Loftin describes as “goofy,” clearly enjoys performing.

“We take trips out of town for gigs and what not, it’s not uncommon to laugh to the point of cramps and sore abs,” Loftin says.

Loftin is the lead singer, playing a variety of instruments including guitar, drums, ukulele, piano, bass, harmonica “or anything I can get my hands on, for that matter.” His father is also a musician who brought little Ben with him to music gigs, introducing him to the magic of music.

Other founding members are Marcus Gillard on bass; Christian Sanders on drums; and Austin Paul Jr. on Sax. Trombonist Brian Thomson and Aux Percussionist Avion Wright joined the group in 2014.

“I think the blend of personality we all bring to the table is my favorite quality of the group,” Loftin said. “Everyone is such an amazing talent that it makes things easy and fun, but the personality everyone expresses is what shows through the passion they have for what they bring to the songs.”

The versatile band performs nearly every style of music, from jazz, funk and R&B to beach music and pop tunes from Jack Johnson and heavy, old school reggae from the likes of Bob Marley.

And although they can perform covers nearly as well as the originals, the band has a few songs of their own.

“I’ve been writing since I can remember,” Loftin said. “Little songs here and there, mostly whenever the inspiration would strike. Once I got to about 16, 17, I started writing more frequently and with purpose.” When he has a song written, he brings it to Christian and Marcus, and “if the groove starts to form and the pocket locks in, then the room lights up and you can just feel that something is workable.”

Some of these songs and a music video will be released this month on their first studio track.

The Ben Loftin Band plays at various clubs in Northwest Florida. Find them February 17 when they perform at Intermission, 214 Palafox St. in downtown Pensacola.

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