Ben Jennings, right, stands with Dead Sea Pedestrians front man Dan Wood. - Bob Pennell

Dead Sea Pedestrians

Lead guitarist Ben Jennings is back with the Dead Sea Pedestrians after an accident left him hospitalized with burns for five weeks. The Pedestrians and Jennings will play Friday and Saturday, June 20-21, at Habañeros, 142 N. Front St., Medford.

Jennings, who is a plumber by day, has been out of action since the middle of February.

"I was brazing pipes with a faulty gas bottle," he explains. "I was burned from my fingertips to my elbows."

Jennings was hospitalized for five weeks in the Oregon Burn Center in Portland and spent months recovering.

"I'm still not totally recovered," he says. "But I'm good enough to where I'm ready to start playing again."

The down time served as a sort of renewal for Jennings, who says that his injury completely changed his perspective on playing guitar.

"I've always enjoyed playing, but before my accident I really didn't appreciate it as much as I do now. There's something about wanting to play every day and being physically unable to that made me realize how much I truly do love music."

Jennings began his career as a guitarist in the fifth grade, when his older brother, Shannon, received a guitar as a Christmas present.

"My brother was the main reason I started playing. He was also my biggest influence," he says.

It wasn't until his big brother switched to bass, however, that Jennings started to take the guitar seriously.

"I used to play to pass the time, really," he says. "When I got into high school I started to play the blues, and I started practicing more. I learned some things about funk and reggae, and now rock 'n' roll is kind of the new thing for me."

Jennings lists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime among some of his influences.

Playing with the Pedestrians, which for Jennings started in July of last year, has enhanced his already-diverse style of playing, he says.

"We give a little bit of all the things that people want to hear, I think," he says. "We play music that the kids who just turned 21 will like, all the way up to the stuff that people in their 60s and 70s will enjoy. Meeting people and seeing them come around to hear us again and again is the best part."

Having undergone surgery just two weeks ago, Jennings says regaining his confidence as a guitarist will take time.

"As far as playing goes, I'm still not where I'd like to be. But this is great therapy. Music is a lot like riding a bike, and I just fell off for a while. I'm a little rusty, but I'll get there."

In the meantime, Jennings' excitement for getting back to basics, coupled with his band mates' enthusiasm for his return, has him right where he needs to be.

"I really can't wait for this weekend," he says. "It's great to be back."

The shows at Habañeros start at 8:30 p.m. Call 779-9770.

Bobby Seus is a freelance writer living in Medford. Reach him at bobbyseus@gmail.com.

Share This Story