In 1984 I was a fledgling music student just beginning classical guitar studies at UCSC in Santa Cruz. I noticed an ad in the campus paper for a classical guitar concert with Benjamin Verdery, a musician I had not heard of before. So I went to the concert and was inspired, humbled, intrigued, and moved on a very deep level by the extraordinary artistry of this young guitarist. I took a chance and went backstage to meet him and after the usual nice to meet you great concert smalltalk he said to me 'hey do you have a car?'. I said yes and asked why and he said 'I really need a cigarette and some M&M's". So we loaded into my red Plymouth Duster, headed into the town, and ended up talking for hours about music and life and love and all things. A lifelong friendship was born.

As I was learning classical guitar I would occasionally have the opportunity to take a lesson with Ben, at his apartment in NY, or in his home town in Connecticut, or in Santa Cruz where I would organize concerts for him. His teaching was perhaps the most valuable and important teaching that I have had. I learned so much from Ben about all kinds of music and guitar playing and what it was like to have a life as a performer and recording artist. Long story short - we ended up making 2 recordings together, blending my steel-string DADGAD playing of traditional music with his virtuosic classical guitar playing, everything from Bach to Galician music to Irish to original compositions, and played many concerts together from Maui to Portugal to NY to England.

I feel blessed to have Ben Verdery as a friend and colleague and collaborator. His enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the art of music making is truly inspiring.

Happy Here

This album with Ben Verdery, is available at Gourd Music.

William Coulter and Ben Verdery have found a unique and energizing partnership.Their space is made of acoustic strings. Strings have their own kind of chemistry, and steel and nylon played together have their own subtle dynamic and exchange. They talk back and forth, like old friends who don’t get together as often as they’d like to.

Something original is going on. Part of it is the mix of strings themselves – one guitar strung with steel, another strung with nylon. We seldom hear this. Ben Verdery says that he tried it once before, in a couple of tunes recorded years back with Leo Kottke. It makes a very pleasing mix of textures, like silk laid next to satin. One helps to define the other.

But the more important chemistry is what the performers release in one another as they play. Bill Coulter and Ben Verdery have found a unique and energizing partnership. What we get from Bill & Ben is a guitar performance at its most intimate. There is heart here and a meditative quality. Each musician goes inward to his still center, in order to come outward with a shared sound that is masterful yet vulnerable.

Song for our Ancestors

You can get this over at Amazon

William Coulter & Benjamin Verdery, guitars
© 2001 Solid Air Records 2024

Produced by William Coulter and Benjamin Verdery
Executive Producer: James Jensen
Bill Coulter plays a Jeff Traugott guitar and uses D’Addario strings exclusively.
Benjamin Verdery plays a Greg Smallman guitar and uses D’Addario strings exclusively.


1. Drops of Brandy
2. How Great the Pleasure is
3. Muneira de Chantada/Saint-Sains
4. An Daingean
5.Songs for Our Ancestors
6. Herzlich Tut Mich Verlangen
7. Frieze Britches
8. Flow Gently Sweet Afton
9. Loch Lavan Castle/Le Funque Trunk
10. Happy Xmas, War is Over
11. Tibetan Prayer Song
12. Keanae, HI