2018-03-15 / News

Biddeford native uses song to inspire youth

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Ben Fogg entertains a group of children with a poem about his beard during a performance of Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem. Fogg creates his own illustrations to accompany performances and recites poetry in between signing and juggling. (Courtesy photo) Ben Fogg entertains a group of children with a poem about his beard during a performance of Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem. Fogg creates his own illustrations to accompany performances and recites poetry in between signing and juggling. (Courtesy photo) BIDDEFORD – When Ben Fogg was in his early 20s, he was working in a Starbucks in San Diego. Struggling to make ends meet, he would often bring a jar of peanut butter to work as his lunch. One day, when a coworker remarked on how much peanut butter he would eat, Fogg responded, “Yeah, it’s kind of a problem.” Now, Fogg travels to schools and events throughout New England singing and juggling as Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem.

Fogg’s first foray into children’s music was writing a song called, “The Ballad of Halloween.” It was well received and made Fogg realize he had a knack for writing music that would appeal to children. Having spent time pursuing stand up comedy, the comedic aspect came naturally to him. He took inspiration from life around him to write his collection of songs that range from silly to educational.

For Fogg, 38, and a 1998 Biddeford High School graduate, inspiration can come from anywhere. He has written songs about everything from monkeys in the aisle at Walmart to his dog, a beagle named Frank. Most recently he released a song about the joy of snow days.

He has also written a song called “The Anti-Bully Anthem,” trying to encourage children to be kind to one another:

“So kids make a promise to me today

And say, I’ll never be a bully, not me no way!

And if I ever see a bully in my school hallway

I’m gonna let out a shout

And say, “Hey, cut that bullying out!”

When Fogg first started performing, he was plagued with stage fright.

“The more I performed for kids, the more I realized that they didn’t care if I was perfect. They didn’t care if I had forgotten a verse or messed up on the guitar. Kids just want to listen to music and have fun,” Fogg said.

As his stage fright has lessened, Fogg has added to his performance. When Fogg was working as a housing director at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, he learned to juggle from a student who was a street performer. Now, when you see a performance of Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem, you’ll see Fogg singing and juggling, occasionally teaching children to juggle as well.

Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem also performs alongside poster-sized illustrations designed to accompany the different songs by the performer himself, and has begun to hand them out as coloring pages at his performances.

Fogg performs throughout New England, primarily in Maine and New Hampshire, working for campgrounds, day care centers, fundraisers and birthday parties.

Fogg lives in Portland with his fiancé and their two dogs and is a science and social studies teacher for Middle School of the Kennebunks.

“I try to incorporate music where I can. I recently wrote a song for a geography lesson, and I’m hoping to work music into our lessons about the periodic table,” Fogg said.

The students, he adds, are particularly big fans of his new song about chicken nuggets.

Fogg has a message to share with his students, “Everyone has a gift for the world. Keep fighting through the stage fright, and keep putting yourself out there, and good things will start to happen.”

Readers can find the music of Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem on iTunes and Soundcloud.

For more information about Ben and the Peanut Butter Problem, visit facebook.com/benandthepeanutbutterproblem or cdbaby.com/artist/benandthepeanutbutterproblem. Contact him at 590-4822 or benfogg3@gmail.com.

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