Pop music fans in the Triangle know how to welcome a veteran player back to town. Ben Folds’ Thursday night, Jan. 27 appearance at Duke’s Page Auditorium sold out in less time than it takes him to slam out a chord on the old Steinway. After all, it’s been a few years since he’s had a live gig here. Haunting the street corners isn’t enough–getting up on stage for a home crowd is required occasionally. And well, he’s been a busy guy.

Folds teamed up with the ubiquitous William Shatner (who has publicly referred to the former Five leader as genius) to co-write, produce and play on Shatner’s new album Has Been. They had previously collaborated on Folds’ 1998 solo outing, Fear of Pop. Has Been includes a myriad of stars like Henry Rollins, Aimee Mann and Joe Jackson. Bill Clinton considered the project at one point.

Not that Folds hasn’t been busy with his own songs. He just finished the third in a series of five song EPs, Super D. He’s on a tour of Eastern universities, with support from the “other” Bens–Ben Kweller and Ben Lee (Lee opens the Duke gig). The three namesakes recently did a record together as The Bens.

This tour could be viewed as a marketing device by the suits to get Folds’ music on the radar with all the young I-Podding students, but this stop in Durham should be a welcome, familiar scene for him and an exuberant hometown audience.