When Ben Kessler opened for Lisa Loeb in September, he had a rough morning after. But it wasn’t because he was out celebrating the gig — he couldn’t even buy a drink at the Sellersville Theater if he wanted to. Kessler, you see, is only 17 years old, and homeroom waits for no one.
“It’s weird coming home from a show and waking up four hours later for school as if nothing happened the night before. But I love it,” says Kessler, who’s now in his senior year. “It’s strange yet fun switching between two completely different lives.”
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It’s not that it’s unusual to find success in the music industry at such a young age: The MTV Video Music Awards is fueled by performers who secured record deals before their driver’s licenses. But the thing about Kessler is that, unless you happen see him at an open mic night, you wouldn’t expect that he pens his songs in his parents’ suburban basement. His subtle, soulful take on folk won him the Philly Songwriters Project’s competition when he was only 15, and his debut album, “So It Goes,” feels a good decade past prom. Unlike that guilty-pleasure Bieber track, you’d keep the windows proudly down if you heard Kessler on XPN.
If you want to catch Kessler live, however, time is ticking. He plays Melodies Cafe in Ardmore on Friday night, and then a handful of other local shows before headlining Word Cafe Live in March. After that, it’s off to college. “Unless I miraculously write and record a platinum album in the next two months, I’ll be going to college,” says Kessler, who’s looking at schools out of state. “I really love learning, and I’m eager to continue my education. The stuff I learn in school often informs my songwriting as well, making both more meaningful.”
Ben, we’re going to need to see some ID — that sounds way too responsible for someone your age.
If you go:
Friday, 8 p.m., $10
2 East Lancaster Ave., Ardmore