By Zach Adams–
Activist, entertainer, family man and poet are just a few words that describe Kentucky native Ben Sollee. For those of you who don’t know, Ben Sollee is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, who is a major figurehead in the Louisville music scene. He is an environmentalist who speaks out against mountain top striping, especially in the eastern parts of Kentucky. To raise awareness for the cause Ben Sollee has released an album entitled “Dear Companion” in which he collaborates with another Kentucky musician Daniel Martin Moore. On his tours he “ditches the van” and transports instruments and equipment via bicycles to support more bikeways and to reinvigorate the bike as an assessable mean of transportation. Sollee primarily plays the cello, which he was introduced to in band during junior high.
Coming from a musical family, Sollee taught himself how to use the cello for purposes other than just playing classical music. As a revolutionist to the art, Ben Sollee’s music stems from a blend of r&b, rock, folk, and Bluegrass. 2012 has been a busy year for Mr. Sollee. He has embarked on a nationwide tour and made his presence known at various music fests, such as the legendary Newport Folk Festival and Louisville’s own Forecastle music festival. This past September, Ben Sollee released his third studio album “Half-Made Man”, which was recorded right here in Louisville, Kentucky and can be found on i-tunes.
“This album is all about portraits”, he states, giving the album a personal sense of who he is and who we are. The phenomenal album took only two weeks to record and features native Kentucky musicians.
Over the fall break I had the luxury to catch a Ben Sollee show for two nights here in Louisville at Headliners Music Hall. Before the show Ben could be seen walking around the venue chasing his young son who was dressed as a ninja turtle, obviously quite ecstatic for the upcoming Halloween season. As he chased his young one around, Ben took the time to talk to fans and thank them for coming to the show; something that you don’t see much in today’s music business. Persons of all ages and races were in attendance to witness such an event and as the crowd began to form; I saw that there was a wide demographic coming to see Ben Sollee. This was my first Ben Sollee show and I can say that I was not disappointed. Sollee connects with the crowd and never allows a dull moment.
“This is an independent business, there is no big record label behind this, it’s just you and us”, Sollee states on stage Friday night. With a connection like this to a fan base, it creates something special and keeps the music sincere. Ben Sollee’s electric performances deem him a must see in concert.
“Although I live in Lexington, I call Louisville my home”, he confesses at the show.
From your fans Ben, we say, “welcome home.”
To learn more about Ben Sollee, his music and his cause, you can find him on I-tunes and visit his website: www.bensollee.com
Photo: Zach Adams/The Louisville Cardinal