Former Guitarist For The Roots Shows His Versatility

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Ben Kenney

If there’s one word that best describes Ben Kenney, it’s versatility. With his background as a session guitarist/bassist on Philadelphia soul/R&B tracks coupled with New Jersey punk rock roots, Kenney spent his formative musical years becoming a master of multiple instruments, including the guitar, bass, and drums.

Kenney linked up with the legendary Roots crew in 2000, becoming their first full-time guitarist and helping to shape the sound of the group’s fifth album, Phrenology. His guitar work was most evident on cuts like “Water,” “Break You Off,” and the Bad Brains-influenced “!!!!!!!”.

Kenney first met the members of popular rock band Incubus when the Roots joined them on the bill of Moby’s 2000 Area One Tour. He would go on to play bass in Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger’s funk-inspired side project The Time Lapse Consortium, and soon after it was announced that he was replacing Alex “Dirk Lance” Katunich as bassist for Incubus. Kenney’s melodic basslines, tight grooves, and knack for live improvisation would have a large impact on Incubus, starting with their A Crow Left of the Murder album.

Beyond his endeavors playing sold-out stadiums across the globe with his full-time gig, Kenney has also carved out a lane for himself as a solo musician, putting out three albums (2004’s 26, 2006’s Maduro, and 2008’s Distance and Comfort) on his own Ghetto Crush Industries. On all of his projects, Kenney writes all of his material, sings, and plays drums, guitar, and bass – an impressive feat that he visually illustrated in his video for Distance and Comfort’s “Eulogy.”

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