Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Ben Sollee

mtflatley-6040While they call it the music industry, there are few artists that enter into it out of a desire to succeed financially. More often, they indulge their creative impulses until it becomes a realistic way to pay the bills. But after a while, what started as an artistic exercise becomes a daily routine reminiscent of most folks’ 9-5s.

mtflatley-6040

Ben Sollee (Courtesy Photo)

 

While they call it the music industry, there are few artists that enter into it out of a desire to succeed financially. More often, they indulge their creative impulses until it becomes a realistic way to pay the bills. But after a while, what started as an artistic exercise becomes a daily routine reminiscent of most folks’ 9-5s.

In the case of cellist Ben Sollee, a Kentucky-based, alt-folk composer, when the business side started dominating his career, he knew it was time for something different.

“I spent a ton of time on planes, trains and automobiles blazing from one distant town to the next. I felt like I was missing something, it was too much business and not enough community,” Sollee says. So, Sollee decided to slow things down, starting with his method of transportation.

Sollee is currently in the middle of a 27-show, six-state (and one District) tour, using a modified bicycle as his primary means of transportation. In addition to keeping overhead costs down, the unusual mode of travel is increasing his interactivity with the areas he and his travel/band mates (Jordon Ellis, Katie Benson and Marty Benson) visit. Of course the experience isn’t quite as intense as the tag line that currently tops Sollee’s website makes it out to be. “Hi… I’m Ben Sollee,” the quote reads. “And I will come to your town, stay in your house, AND eat your food. AND put on a community oriented, sustainable event… that’s cool.”

“My manager, Jeffrey Smith, is really in to that quote,” Sollee explains. “But for the Ditch the Van tour we’re very fortunate to be hosted by some very hospitable folks. As for food, we carry some groceries and try to cook whenever possible. Otherwise, we seek out the local eateries and try out the fare.”

In addition to mingling with the locals, Sollee provides them with his music, which mingles genres into an entertaining mix you won’t find anywhere outside of his cool compositional caravan (“Panning for Gold” earns the Press Pass endorsement).

After pedaling into the D.C. area Sept. 23 for a gig in Frederick, Md., Sollee will take the stage for two more shows at The Mansion at Strathmore and Edmund Burke School … after a shower. Er, at least when there’s time.

“Sometimes unexpected delays like flat tires or less than safe routing slows us down and we run out of time,” Sollee concedes. As for recovering from the road, “That’s what the show is for. Sitting down and playing some music at the end of a long ride is tremendously satisfying.”

• For more on Ben Sollee visit bensollee.com.

 

Off Track

Brindley Returns with ‘Hidden’

Local songwriter Luke Brindley is back, with new release A Hidden Wholeness. After dabbling with a lyric-less EP (Solo Guitar), Brindley’s new full-length album once again sport his well-crafted words in addition to some first-class composition.

Listeners can snag the album’s first two songs for free, but will want to download the rest to get “You Are Not Alone,” a Boss-like pop ballad that feels mere minutes from being placed on a cinema or small-screen soundtrack.

You can sample the goods at LukeBrindley.com, or check out a local live show. After a release party at Jammin’ Java Sept. 17, more dates should be coming soon.