Kind of in and of a Place
That is an accurate description of cellist, composer, and storyteller Ben Sollee’s music — he and his band are playing at the Ashmore Auditorium in Pensacola tonight.
I would say just ‘cellist’ Ben Sollee, but that does not even come close to describing all he is and what he and his band sound like. Tonight, we will be treated to a brilliant singer, songwriter and composer who harnesses old and new sounds for a comforting blend no one else is creating today.
Sollee hails from Lexington, Kentucky. This 30 something is wiser than his age. His band consists of Jordan Ellis, percussion, Julian Pinelli on violin and fiddle, Bennett Sullivan on banjo, Jonathan Estes and Josh Hart bass and Jona Smith backing vocals.
I first interviewed Sollee in 2011 on the heels of one of his many “Ditch the Van” tours where he was on his fourth tour by bike. Yes, he was on a bike touring the country with his equipment in tow, and the band did the same. The point of doing those bike tours was to connect with the spaces, places and faces of the communities he was playing in.
Something he said to me that day continues to resonate with me and is something our country could benefit from more than ever – If each of us focus on improving the life and culture of a two mile radius around where we live everyone would benefit. If each of us do something for others those circles would overlap and as a society we would be lifted.
He has certainly done so with his charitable work with Livestream among other groups. Livestream’s goal is to harness the power of art, science and technology to actively engage individuals, organizations and businesses across Kentucky in the cultivation of the water ways to prevent groundwater contamination.
This sentiment and action on his part is something that comes through in his soulful, haunting vocals, songwriting and instrumentals.
The new album ‘Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native’ has a heavier mountain sound with many layers of bluegrass, fiery cello, purposeful percussion along with more deliberate and mature vocals. Wait until you hear ‘Pieces of You’, it is a beautiful tribute to loss and keeping memories alive.
This is a show not to be missed.
WHAT: BEN SOLLEE
WHEN: Saturday, August 26, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: PSC Ashmore Fine Arts Auditorium, 1000 College Blvd., Bldg. 8