MILLERSBURG — For Nashville recording artist Ben Gallaher, coming back home to Pennsylvania to perform is sort of like living out a country song.
“Country music has always been about the lyrics and story of a song, and how it relates to everybody’s lives,” he said. “the highs and lows — the journey.”
Returning to his roots in Central Pennsylvania is a way for the Camp Hill native to reconnect with the beginnings of his journey that led to the musical career that he dreamed of since he was just six years old.
It’s that kind of honest look that has guided his songwriting outward, connecting in a real and deep way with his audiences.
Whenever he’s on stage, he said, “My goal has always been to try to have an impact, to relate to somebody through music.”
Gallaher will be performing at 7 p.m. Saturday at the DeSoto Amphitheater at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, 176 Water Company Road, Millersburg.
The concert is only Gallaher’s second live performance since February, due to the pandemic shutdowns. And he can’t think of another place he’d rather be than Pennsylvania, he said, “to kick everything off again.”
Tickets are $35 and are limited to approximately 200, in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions. Masks are required for entry, and sanitation stations will be provided throughout the venue. The event is BYOB, and food will be available for purchase from Max’s Bar and Grill, of Millersburg.
Gallaher was always drawn to music. As a child, he started playing drums. But at six years old, he picked up his first guitar, and it changed his life.
“It just fit me better than anything else,” he said. “From then on, that was it. It wasn’t even like I had a choice. It felt like it was what I was supposed to do.”
He grew up listening to and falling in love with 90s country music, and he set his sights immediately on Nashville.
“I never wanted to do anything else,” he said.
In high school, he began performing live shows and began to build a fan base. After attending college at Penn State for a short time, he transferred to Belmont University in Nashville where he focused his studies on the entertainment industry. Shortly after the move, he formed a band, rented a van, and they began touring the eastern corridor on weekends, performing their songs.
“One of the biggest things that I always wanted to do was get on the road and figure out how to work a crowd, and how things worked on the road, playing show to show and building a fan base,” he said. “There are things you can’t learn in the classroom.”
Since his move to Nashville nine years ago, Gallaher — who is largely self-taught — has played numerous venues from Connecticut to San Diego, and has created relationships in the country music capital with songwriters, musicians and producers that have opened doors for his music career to flourish. Most of each week, he is writing songs for Nashville publishing company Warner/Chappell. On the weekends — at least pre-pandemic, he jokes — he is still hitting the road. He has opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, 3 Doors Down, Lee Brice, and more. For nearly a decade, he has also toured the Pennsylvania State Prisons on his annual “Barbed Tour.”
This Saturday, he’s looking forward to coming home once again, and is especially excited to perform at the Ned Smith Center, whose mission is much in line with Gallaher’s special love for the outdoors.
“A big part of me is still rooted in Pennsylvania,” he said. He often comes back to visit with family and to hunt, fish, and camp.
“There’s nothing like the Pennsylvania landscape,” he said.
Knowing about Gallaher’s love for the outdoors, Ned Smith Center Executive Director John P. Booth said the performance, which will be outdoors too, seems perfect. What makes it even more perfect is that they are able to highlight a Central Pennsylvania native.
“One of the great reasons to come see Ben perform is that he is still the kid from next door,” Booth said. “He is truly grateful for his talent and loves sharing his music without all the hype and Hollywood flair.”
Gallaher said he has been writing every day during the pandemic quarantines, and he plans to share some of his new material, yet to be recorded, at Saturday’s concert. But he also plans to perform many of the songs that his fans have come to know and love.
For more information about the concert, visit nedsmithcenter.org or call 717-692-3699.
More information about Gallaher is available at www.bengallaher.com.