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Travelers Tune

By Shoutaro Takahashi

Ben Folds' Island Retreat


Ben Folds' Island Retreat

 Maps are great for studying and finding where to go, but my map book is one of a kind. It’s hand-made, a bit weathered, and some parts are laminated. What makes it special are the signatures and notes from world famous musicians scribbled all over it. While interviewing them, I asked each a simple question: Where is your favorite place to visit? I hope you’ll enjoy these travel tips from some great artists and find some interesting insights hidden in the answers.


Ben Folds is a rock musician who mainly plays the piano. His guitar-less sound is popular in Japan where I met him just before I left to the States to travel the country in a rental car. With his beautiful wife next to him, he marked some of his favorite places that included the Grand Canyon, Death Valley National Park, New Orleans, the recently devastated city famous for Cajun music and Jazz, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina—Ben’s hometown.

He also enthusiastically included Mackinac Island on Lake Huron Lake (one of the Great Lakes). Cars aren’t allowed on this tiny island. It has a small town American charm and a number of horse-drawn carts still running in the streets. It was too small to find on my map, but he excitedly marked the area with a red and blue pen. Since my rental car wasn’t permitted on the island, I wasn’t able to make it there. Maybe next time!

Guitarless Bands that Rock!

Ben Folds Five
Ben Folds Five (Toshiba EMI)
Piano rock? People were shocked when this album came out 10 years ago but it’s still selling well with great songs like “Jackson Cannery.”

Ben Folds
Songs For Silverman (Sony Records)
His newest, and second solo album, goes on sale this year. It has blissful sound with some cool tracks listeners will enjoy.

Hopes and Fears (Universal Records)
The first album from a new band that became a hit last year. Nice melodies with a British sound but with some added punch. I think it would be even better with some guitar licks.

Death From Above 1979
You`re A Woman, I’m A Machine (Victor)
This base and drum rock band has a hardcore sound. Although there are many guitar-less bands, this one features a guitar-like sound. Are you sure they are playing a base?