Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, July 14, 2011

97 grad launches two CDs, one with tunes from Madison days

colorized image of Ben Paulos with an acoustic guitar

Ben Paulos' band Bentham has released two albums, "Miss Wisconsin" and "Pacific." La Follette School alumni may recognize a few scenarios from "Miss Wisconsin," whose songs Paulos wrote and performed in Madison while working on his master's degree Both discs are available via

album cover of Miss Wisconsin by Bentham album cover of Pacific by Bentham

Ben Paulos, class of 1997, is proud to announce the much-belated release of two CDs of music by his band, Bentham.

The first, called "Miss Wisconsin," taps Paulos' experiences in Madison while earning a master's degree in public affairs and policy analysis. He launched Bentham in Boston then continued it in Madison.

Asked if any of the 12 "Miss Wisconsin" tunes are about La Follette people, Paulos replied, "There are a couple, but I'm not really at liberty to disclose more details. So my classmates will have to be so vain and think this song is about them. … But all the songs on the record are about Madison people, or things that happened when I was there. 'Let It Go' is about a fight I had with a landlord. 'Miss Wisconsin' is about hanging out in bars — Crystal Corner, Mister Roberts, Mickey's, the Essen Haus and of course the Terrace. Blonde hair, beer and brats. That kind of sums up Madison youth culture for me."

Paulos and his Madison band Area Man — the name drawn from many a headline in The Onion — played gigs in Madison and Chicago. "We did a little recording but didn't finish before I moved to San Francisco," Paulos says.

With a full-time job and a family, life got in the way of recording, but not songwriting. The second album, "Pacific," is a compilation of songs he wrote in San Francisco. "I had a full-time career in energy policy, and it was hard to fit in a second career," says Paulos, whose daytime gig is director of the renewable power program at the Energy Foundation, which promotes clean energy policy in the United States and China. "Then my son arrived, my wife got cancer and died, I got remarried and had another kid."

He attributes the two albums' release to his wife, Jess, who encouraged him to get the recording done during the last couple of years.

"It's not like the world is clamoring for an artist to produce art," Paulos says. "It's something I had to do but struggled to find time. My wife really gave me the time to get it done. So here the albums are."

This article appears in the fall 2011 La Follette Notes newsletter for alumni and friends.