5 Archive #09 – Songwriter Ben Rector

5 Archive #09 – Songwriter Ben Rector

Music Valley Archive makes clothing & collectibles to help you rep Nashville's old school soul. Here on 5 Archive, Music City-based artists, creators and small business owners share their 5 current obsessions. 


Ben Rector is a singer-songwriter from Tulsa, OK who has lived in Nashville since 2009. He's made recordings and played shows since 2002 and strives to make accessible, excellent art. When he's home, he's a dad to a daughter and twin 3 year old boys (thoughts and prayers accepted) and a husband to his brilliant and kind wife, Hillary. When he's not playing a show or writing a song, you can likely find him playing a round of golf with friends, going for a walk, or enjoying some delicious local food in Nashville. 


I'm hooked. It's the perfect amount of a game and a sport. There's a low barrier to entry but it's hard to be really good (I am not really good), so it feels like a pretty ideal setup for getting together with friends and wasting an hour (or 3-4 hours like I usually do into the late night on Wednesdays). Solid exercise with movements that are hard to mimic outside of playing an actual sport (I don't see a lot of adults doing a shuttle run or big awkward lurches or ten foot sprints in the gym).

Overnight oats

Oats Overnight (Dark Chocolate Sea Salt)
Options can be overwhelming for me because I feel like I need to make the perfect choice, so falling into a routine is something I really like. Enter Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Oats Overnight. Every morning. It's delicious and and nutritious. I look forward to it and it keeps me full for a pretty decent amount of time because there's protein powder in it. The only thing is that they call for 8oz of milk to make it drinkable which kind of weirds me out so I do like 5oz and eat it with a spoon.

Sketching on my iPad
Sketching on my iPad

I bought an iPad because I'm flying a bunch this fall and I wanted to not watch movies on my phone. On a whim I started to noodle around on the sketch app and then pulled in a picture of my kids and decided to trace the edges and make a line art drawing. That's now most of what I do on the iPad, and it feels good to have a creative outlet that has no end goal or pressure, where I'm just tinkering and figuring something new out, and it's okay if it's bad or I'm no good at it.

Making ditties for social media

Being honest, the changes in the social media landscape have been a little soul crushing in the last couple years. Trying to learn a new medium and also how to incorporate what you actually do into that medium in a way that's immediate, shareable and also beats the algorithm has been a tough curveball for everyone I know. I wanted to be like "I DON'T DO THIS STUFF" but decided I needed to find a way to participate that didn't make me want to throw my phone in a lake (I still want to do that though). Starting songs has always been my favorite part of music, so I started making short observations and dressing them up in fun musical outfits. It's been great for me to relearn things about writing and creativity.

Ben performing live
The Old Friends Acoustic Tour

This is not a plug, I think it will be over by the time this comes out (editor's note: four dates left!). This year for the first time I decided to scale back and play smaller venues, just me and a couple guys onstage, two crew members, no bus or truck or production. The experience has been such a gift, and it feels like I'm back in college again. Instead of catering and a large rider, we get Uber eats for dinner and bananas and peanut butter for the dressing rooms. The show feels more like improv and music making than a play, and it reminds me about what I loved about music when I started making it.


We invite every guest to add 5 songs to the WMVA 61.5AM Sunday Mornings Playlist, a collection of music for mellow Sunday mornings. Here are Ben's picks:

  • Jacob Collier & Brandi Carlisle, "Little Blue"
  • Trousdale, "If I'm Honest"
  • Jordan Shellhart, "Who Are You Mad At"
  • Thad Cockrell, "Rosalyn"
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Fishin' in the Dark"



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