Uniquely placed in a burgeoning indie atmosphere of non-traditional artists, cellist Ben Sollee transcends genres jumping from classical to indie pop to soul to traditional Americana blue grass. On Wednesday evening, Ben hit the stage of the Music Hall of Williamsburg, with violinist Phoebe Hunt and percussionist extraordinaire Jordan Ellis, to the delight of his fans.
Ben played tracks from his latest album Inclusions, including “Close To You”, “Captivity”, “Electrified” and “Bible Belt”. For the latter, Ben strapped on the electric guitar and provided an introduction to the aptly titled tune where this Kentucky boy grew up. He described the signs that pepper his home, but couldn’t bring himself to recount what the signs exactly said. The audience had no problem imagining what they proclaimed. You can listen to these tracks and all of Inclusions in its entirety at bandcamp.
Though Ben didn’t pull out his “Change Is Gonna Come” cover, he enamored this Sam Cooke fan by interweaving “Good Times” into his rendtion of “It’s Not Impossible”. Other tracks he played from his Learning To Bend album were “How To Watch A Sunrise”, “Bury Me With My Car” and “Built For This”. For BFT, what seemed to be a drunken fan request turned out to be one of the most enduring moments of the night. A gentleman exclaimed we were married to that song. How could Ben deny that? He obliged with a caveat - only if they danced. Of course they did, along with several couples in the center of the floor after some coaxing from Ben.
As the evening neared its closing, Ben became thoughtful placing his de-fogged spectacles back on. He spoke of his contribution, “The Wires” to Patagonia Music and how the proceeds of the track’s purchase went to a cause close to his heart, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. The organization rallies local communities to battle mountaintop coal removal in the Appalachian region. It was fitting that Ben encored with “Only A Song” as the crowd sang along “But it’s only a song, it can’t change the world”. Lesson of the night – be the change that you want to see in the world. Amen! To top it all off, Ben covered Cat Stevens “Wild World” a thrilling end of all ends to send us off in the night.