Acclaimed cellist, composer, songwriter and activist Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native will perform at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, CO on August 18th–20th. He is touring in support of his highly anticipated album Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native (Soundly Music), which is set for release on August 11th. Tracing the origins of a traditional American genre back to early immigrants, Sollee takes a nontraditional approach, blending the influences of early Irish and Scottish musicians with the rhythms of Mexico, Africa and India. Take a listen to the huapango inspired groove in "Mechanical Advantage" HERE. Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native is his most personally revealing work and a reflection of his native Kentucky, a place like many other communities that helped refine the ever-changing Bluegrass genre.
Sollee penned songs about the vulnerabilities of living in the world, keeping up with the pace of life and looking towards the future. “Pieces Of You” is powerful and connected to his real-life friendship with conceptual artist Louis Zoellar Bickett II and his artwork “The Archive.” The piece, which shows no distinction between personal mementos and trash, reminds Sollee of everyday artifacts in his life. Objects like a U.S. Postal name badge given to him by his grandfather and the marked-up sheet music from his first cello teacher could be considered worthless, but to Sollee each has a story. In “Presence” which is perhaps the most poetic and personal, he shares a personal affinity for lying on his back in the deep end of a pool finding solace in the peacefulness of the water, before the need to come back to the surface. Just like that, he is thrown back into the frenetic pace of the real world and existence.
Raised amid the musical traditions and culture of the Appalachia, Sollee’s admiration for the evolving genre of Bluegrass and its early practices is reflected throughout the album. Sollee continues his craft with purpose and resolve to make the world around him a better place. The album is culturally rich, rhythmic and moving and is personally reflective of the southern-bred artist, who is among the best working contemporary performers of today.
Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native was produced by Alex Krispin and recorded at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, KY. Each song was captured live as an ensemble with a mobile, analogue studio with just a few overdubs. Musicians on the album include Jordon Ellis (Percussion), Bennett Sullivan (Banjo), Julian Pinelli (Fiddle), Jonathan Estes (Bass), Josh Hari (Bass) and Jonah Smith (Background Vocals). Sollee wrote all but two songs on the album (“Emily’s Song” and “Carrie Bell”). For more information, visit www.bensollee.com.
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