Thief or Tribute?

Poor Ben Harper. No matter where he goes, no matter what new songs he brings, he always gets slapped with either the "poor man's Lenny Kravitz" or the "thinking man's Lenny Kravitz" tag (depending on the graciousness of the critic). Of course, that's probably what the 33-year-old singer-songwriter deserves for so blatantly cribbing from the songbooks of Hendrix, Mayfield, Plant 'n Page, Bobs Dylan and Marley, and myriad other icons on each of his six albums, even if his persona is more reticent soul-hippie than flashy retro-rocker.

But once Harper takes the stage and begins tearing through his catalog, it's hard for even the most cynical naysayer to deny the guy's sincerity and charisma. It's when his passion to communicate takes over that he transcends all associations and becomes his own man. It's a moment well worth witnessing for yourself.

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Michael Alan Goldber