Ben Eldridge

Ben Eldridge was born in Richmond, Virginia. He began playing the guitar at age ten and later in 1954 the banjo. In 1957, he began his studies at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Four years later he moved to Adelphi, Maryland. Eldridge became acquainted with Bill Keith and Bill Emerson who were to become two major banjo picking influences in his life.

In June 1970, Eldridge joined "Cliff Waldron and his New Shades of Grass". Eldridge was among five musicians who started playing in the fall of 1971 with mandolinist John Duffey, Dobro player Mike Auldridge, bassist Tom Gray and guitar and lead singer John Starling. They would ultimately be known as The Seldom Scene. Duffey had quit playing professionally a short while earlier, to resume his career as a luthier and stay at home, so the conditions under which the band played were that they would not make a run for commercial success, and everybody kept their day jobs. By early 1972 they had a weekly gig at Bethesda, Maryland's Red Fox Inn that stretched for six years. Later they moved the weekly performance to Thursday's at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River. Starling finished his medical residency and moved to Alabama to practice medicine, but The Seldom Scene continued with a series of other accomplished guitar players.


 Gray eventually left to continue his career in cartography, Auldridge left the band, Duffey died unexpectedly in 1996, and by the first decade in the 21st century Ben Eldridge was the only original member left.  Under Ben's direction the band was rebuilt, with the current line-up of Eldridge, Reid, Connell, Simpkins and Travers being the longest running configuration of the band, over ten years.  The band continues to win over new fans to bluegrass music, thanks in part to their irreverant stage show.  This comedy reaches it's climax with Ben's vocal prowess on the favored "Lay Down Sally".


Eldridge has played on all Seldom Scene albums, and his discography includes 55 albums. Eldridge contributed to solo albums by Mike Auldridge and Phil Rosenthal (who had succeeded John Starling), and he and other members of The Seldom Scene famously backed Linda Ronstadt in a few numbers on her early, more country-flavored albums.


Ben's son, Chris, currently plays with The Punch Brothers, as well as occasionally with the Seldom Scene.  Ben is married to longtime partner Barbara Noel Eldridge.  He also has two older sons, Matt and Ben, Jr and daughter Paige.  Ben has four grandchildren, and on August 15, 2008, turns 70 years young.