Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

Ben Harper Spring 2017

Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

Tom Freund

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

7:30 pm

$45.00 - $75.00+

This event is 18 and over





All guests must have a valid government/state issued ID for entry to the venue. No refunds.



All general admission tickets are standing room only.




Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas is excited to offer special room discounts via Caesars Hotels & Resorts for traveling fans. For hotel rooms use promo code: BRB15 at applicable for rooms at The LINQ Hotel and the Flamingo.


*Advertised times are for doors -- show time not available until day of show*


Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
It had been seven years since Ben Harper last played a show with the Innocent Criminals, so when the time came to reunite for a live tour in 2015, the band—percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles, keyboardist Jason Yates, and guitarist Michael Ward—quickly discovered that Harper had more in mind than simply revisiting the group's prodigious collection of hits. In fact, Harper had been quietly amassing material for a new record, Call It What It Is, and the first recording sessions were scheduled to begin even before the rehearsals for their triumphant four-night sold-out reunion run at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

"I thought we would be more energized and revitalized by thinking outside the box and starting with new material in the studio before we dug into the old stuff," explains Harper. "It was meant to be a signpost that we're here to forge new ground musically and personally. Because of that, the older material started to sound brand new too."

Beginning with his 1994 debut, Welcome To The Cruel World, Harper released a string of eight studio albums over a decade and a half. This extraordinary run, featuring contributions from the Innocent Criminals, established him as a singularly powerful songwriter and performer with range across multiple genres and an unmatched ability to blend the personal and political. The accolades poured in—Rolling Stone hailed his "jewels of unique and exquisitely tender rock & roll," while Entertainment Weekly praised his "casual profundity," and Billboard said his music "reminds us of the power and beauty of simplicity." Massive, international sold-out tours, Top 10 debuts in the US, Gold and Platinum certifications overseas, and a slew of TV appearances cemented Harper and the band's status as genuine global stars.

"The process of working outside of my comfort zone is really important to my growth," explains Harper. "The situations I've put myself in have pushed me further than I could go in any familiar setting, and that's what's brought me back full circle to the Innocent Criminals now. Everybody went out and grew in their own ways during our time apart, and that's brought this heightened level of appreciation for each other and what we do."

"Each member brings a wealth of knowledge and different styles of music," said Nelson. "What makes us unique is that we come from different places musically and we seem to complement each other because of the different styles that we play."

"Playing with the Innocent Criminals again is like riding a bike," adds Charles, "but that bike has gotten tons of upgrades and modifications since the last time. There was a feeling I had missed for so long that you can only get from playing together."

From the opening minutes of Call It What It Is, it's clear that that feeling has never been more powerful or exhilarating. The album kicks off with "When Sex Was Dirty," a song that Harper had earmarked for the Innocent Criminals from the moment he wrote it. It's all classic rock and roll bravado, full of electric guitar swagger, driving percussion, and seductive energy. Harper follows it up by demonstrating that his range is wider than ever with the utterlybooking vulnerable "Deeper and Deeper," a near-whispered acoustic moment of introspection co-written with Ward, who says that despite the time apart, or perhaps because of it, the band is now "closer than ever as musicians and as human beings."

It's on the album's bluesy title track, though, that Harper cuts to the quick. "There's good cops and bad cops / White cops and black cops / Got to call it what it is / Murder," he sings before invoking the names of Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, and Michael Brown.

For the first time in his career, Harper split the recording of the album into four five-day sessions spread across an entire year, enabling him and the band to come back to the music with a deeper sense of objectivity. "It gave us a chance to live with the songs for a while and let them soak in," says Mobley, who worked with artists as diverse as Mick Jagger and Nas during his time away from the Innocent Criminals. "It gave us a chance to reflect, which was important to our satisfaction and allowed us to make good decisions."

The new album is Harper's second release for Stax Records. Perhaps most associated with icons like Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes, Stax is a seamless fit for Call It What It Is, due to its rich Civil Rights-era legacy and its dedication to spreading soul music in all its most powerful forms. Harper speaks reverently of the label, describing the honor and the privilege of calling it his home, and it's clear the history holds a special place in his heart as both a fan and an artist.

As serious and solemn as Call It What It Is can get, though, it's also one of Harper's most joyous records. "Shine" grooves with blissful passion, while "Pink Balloon" shows off a lyrical mischievousness that surprised even Harper himself. Like so many of the other tracks, it only fully revealed itself over time and through a free-flowing collaboration with those closest to him.

"There's a natural way we move together and flow through the recording of a song," explains Yates. "There's an unspoken dialogue that runs steady through this album like a river. The feelings evoked by these songs are coming from the very depths of our souls. It's a sacred sharing."

The result is perhaps the proudest accomplishment of Harper's prodigious career.

"The time we took with this record has let me look it straight in the eyes and say that I gave everything I could to it and that it's exactly the way we intended it to be. To be able to say that we've left no stone unturned just feels great."

For the legions of Ben Harper fans that have been waiting eight years for a new album with the Innocent Criminals, it feels even better.
Tom Freund
Tom Freund
“Tom Freund is indeed one of the great singer- songwriters. He constructs a unique world, defines it, and then burns it to the ground. Truly unique and absolutely brilliant.” –All Music Guide

It’s the ease with which he delivers conversational lyrics and honeyed melodies, a natural magic that is the soul of Tom Freund’s music. Though he’s widely-traveled in a variety of genres– from hearftelt folk to buoyant pop to boho jazz to straightforward rock ’n’ roll, and beyond –Freund is, simply put, a singer-songwriter with a defined and captivating presence.

“Freund clearly delights in enigma. His vocals could go from laconic to impassioned without such obvious trickery as cranking up the volume. His lyrics are full of curveballs.” –Washington Post

Freund’s latest disc “Two Moons” on Surf Road Records draws roots sources for an urbane Americana sound, melding nostalgia with a raw and sharp-eyed views of life today. “If Two Moons, with its underlying message of hope in this messy world of ours, serves as an inspiring, encouraging soundtrack for listeners, then I can say to myself, ‘ok, you’re doing something right for the people out there”, Freund says. He delivers this CD’s main message in the standout track “Lemme Be Who I Wanna Be,” in which he declares: “I’m basically hooked on this life/it’s got a lot of problems/but it treats me real right/and you don’t have to agree with me/but let me fly my freak flag.” This oddly upbeat anthem of personal empowerment so impressed Canadian rock star Serena Ryder that she asked to sing on it. The opening track “Angel Eyes,” featuring vocals by Ben Harper, serves as Freund’s take on Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” motif, expresses his appreciation to his Southern California friends for always having his back. Notes of nostalgia play into Tom’s self-declared favorite track “Mind of Your Own” which delves into a deeply personal memory of the New York native’s childhood home.

“If you want to hear what California feels like, Tom Freund’s new album is a good place to start…” – Acoustic Guitar

Freund spent the mid-’90s touring with the indie rock cult faves THE SILOS and has been releasing solo albums since 1998. Tom has alternated between recording and touring behind his own discs, playing upright bass, electric bass guitar, and mandolin with the likes of British pub-rock great Graham Parker (who hailed Freund as one of the best singer-songwriters operating today), pop star Mandy Moore, groove-soul sensation Brett Dennen, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne, and three-time Grammy winner Ben Harper. “What really brought me to wanting to work with Tom in the studio is his songs,” Harper concludes. “It doesn’t have to even go any further than that. As far as I’m concerned, who wouldn’t wanna work with him in the studio? Because the songs are there.”

“Every year the mounting landfill of new releases that threatens to bury the working music journalists yields a few unexpected gems, and Tom Freund is one of them.”
–New York Times

More recently, you can spot Freund playing with Parker in the Judd Apatow film, “This Is 40” and featured on the hit TV shows “Parenthood”, “American Gothic” and the recently premiered Pamela Adlon show “Better Things”. He continues to tour North America, Europe and Japan playing with his band or doing solo shows.
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
3545 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV, 89109

Just Announced

More Shows

See All Shows>

Search Shows

Join the Mailing List