Lately, Ben Bell can't stop thinking about the music of the ’70s.
"It's more than nostalgia," Bell said. "There was a sincerity to it that was beautiful and different than what came before. There are songs that risk being corny, but they pull it off."
So Bell did what any musician would do — he started talking about his love of that music with others, including Dyson House Listening Room owner John Burns. In a span of time that's shorter than Don McLean's "American Pie," a new concert idea was born.
Bell, a few of his musician friends and writer John Wirt will participate in ’70s Jukebox: Music and Musicology at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hartley/Vey Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. The show features local musicians tackling classic songs of that '70s' era as well as discussion and anecdotes about the music from host Wirt.
Bell, a 48-year-old Baton Rouge singer-songwriter, is keeping the song choices to himself so concertgoers will be surprised. However, he did say that the show will feature some singer-songwriter selections, disco, light rock and even some progressive rock.
But don't expect this to be another cover show or tribute night.
"This is not a Live After Five band," Bell said of the show. "This is more of a listening room/coffeehouse vibe with accomplished local musicians."
Those performing musicians in addition to Bell include chamber folk band The Wilder Janes, guitarist/vocalist Robert Calmes, upright bassist Kat Carlson and singers Margaret Fowler and Kristen Foster.
The bigger goal is to have a musical discussion. Though Bell performs Americana and classic country-style music, he wants to find out why the songs of that particular time are so vital.
"I grew up on this music, but I play this other style," he said. "I want to find out how and why this music sticks with me. There are these gut questions I have, and I want to find out where other musicians stand on it."
Bell doesn't have any answers. He knows he can't cover the entire decade in one night, but he can't wait to dive in.
"What is it that makes this music so good? What is that quality? Those are the questions," he said. "I've been thinking about this concept for a long time. I used to call this music a guilty pleasure, but it's not. I love it. It's timeless."
Dyson House presents: ’70s Jukebox: Music and Musicology
Featuring The Wilder Janes, Robert Calmes, Ben Bell, Kat Carlson, Margaret Fowler and Kristen Foster; hosted by John Wirt
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14
WHERE: Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre at Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge
COST: $10-$25 at brownpapertickets.com