Rob Carlson & The Benefit Street Band

Rob Carlson & Benefit Street is back on stage! We're kicking off 2019 with Traditionsfest, a benefit concert for WFDU's Traditions radio program at the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club in Fair Lawn, NJ, on Saturday, January 5th. We'll be co-headlining with Christine Lavin and others.

The members of The Benefit Street Band have been busy with side projects. Rob Carlson has a new duet album with Beth Bradley on Inverted Turtle Records, and is working on a new solo album; some tracks are now available! Vin Pasternak's new album, "The Barcelona Note Book," has just been released to excellent reviews. And Paul Payton is working on a solo album of instrumental compositions, "somewhere between rock and new age" - more details to come! (All links will open in new windows.)

For BOOKING, call 203-256-0580 or e-mail



ANGELS ON THE RADIO by ROB CARLSON & THE BENEFIT STREET BAND (Presence PCD3304, 2015) is the second album from singer-songwriter Rob Carlson's new band, including keyboard artist Paul Payton, string wizard Vin Pasternak and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Sam Carlson (on select gigs). Featured tracks: "Angels on the Radio," "Shakin' On Down," "The One Called Shenandoah" and "All I Saw." The band, based in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, plays primarily throughout the northeast.

    "As Modern Man winds down I'm very pleased to announce a new album by my other project, The Benefit Street Band....Modern Man was always pretty strictly a comedy group.  Benefit Street, on the other hand, lets me stretch out with a whole bunch of non-comedy songs as well as some old and new funny ones.  For the last couple of years I've been writing and producing what I think is my best album yet, called 'Angels on the Radio.'  It features ten songs by me along with one each from Paul Payton ('Me') and Vin Pasternak ('When I Turn to You') plus the very last Modern Man recording, 'Los Geezers Del Amor,' as a bonus cut. 

    "So what's it like?  I have never liked pigeonholing my stuff, because I like to write in different genres and try not to repeat myself.  It's basically acoustic, with folkie, Americana roots but influenced by rock and pop, jazz, Caribbean rhythms and more.  No two cuts are alike.  So you decide.  

    "I hope [everyone]will give it a listen and come out and see [us] live, with new songs, a new sound and still pretty doggone funny.  We'll make it worth your while."  --Rob Carlson, 9/12/15 

The band's self-titled 2011 debut (What Cheer CD3345, co-produced by Presence and Inverted Turtle Records), featuring "Before They Know You're Gone," "Time and Time Again" and "Hudson Bridge."  The cover photos were taken on Benefit Street in Providence, RI, the beautifully restored colonial street that also borders Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. More information is at

For BOOKING, call 203-256-0580 or e-mail

Live performances to be announced - keep checking in!

A Holiday Editorial Comment: It has been a bit difficult to get into the holiday spirit this year. It’s not about a specific religion, as every major faith and culture notes some kind of solstice observation, but the season’s spirituality seems to keep getting more deeply buried. Strident commercialism, polarized politics and partial collapse of the social contract seem to have pushed the holidays’ true meaning into deep background. So many charities and politicians have been begging incessantly to meet artificial deadlines “or the matching fund expires” (really, if they’re a few dollars short of their goal, will the matching donor really walk away?), and every imaginable retailer is having a now-or-never sale followed by yet another one. Black Friday and traffic jams almost subsumed Thanksgiving, once the last uncommercialized holiday, and now the Christmas/Hanukkah/solstice season now seems to be measured by how much one buys or “gifts.” (Note from my late English-teacher mother: “gift” is not a verb.)

It’s hard to remember that there is still good in the world which one can find if one looks for it, and that life doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Perhaps our view is colored by friends and family passing, other friends moving, and so on. But my wife decorated our Christmas tree, we lit our menorah, we have great friends here and around the country and world, we try to focus on doing things rather than amassing stuff, and we are doing our best to stay optimistic. Good friends and good adventures go a long way to make that happen. And making what we hope is good music helps it all go down more smoothly! Thank you all.

Best wishes of the season,