DLMC is proud to present Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native Saturday, December 9th at the City of Davis Veterans Memorial Theatre. Doors will open at 7pm with music by supporting artists The Riverside and Emily Scott Robinson starting at 7:30pm. The show is open to all ages, seating is general admission. Tickets are available online or at Armadillo Music in Davis.
Sollee returns to the stage at Veterans Memorial Theatre five years after impressing a local crowd with the depth and breadth of his catalog, performance, and style. Several albums and a new, expanded band later, Sollee will stop in Davis while touring on his new album Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native. Ben describes the album as a bluegrass record, fully aware that his is not the traditional view.
“Bluegrass music is immigrant music,” he says, offering his expansive definition across the kitchen table. “It’s the music of Irish and Scottish musicians bringing their fiddle tunes; it is gospel music; it is African music; it is gypsy jazz; it is rock ‘n’ roll. It is all these things. What makes it unique and of Kentucky is that it was distilled by the people who lived here in Kentucky, and turned into something else.”
Ben possesses the insatiable curiosity of an inveterate wanderer, of a close observer. Take the new song, “Mechanical Advantage,” built from simply watching a young woman cross the street. Only the song itself is rather more complex. “It’s just super-duper fun to sing because it’s in this Mexican huapango groove,” Sollee says, singing a bit by way of explanation, “this music of Central Mexico that I love so much. It’s very different, groove-wise, than anything that we play in America, even though it feels very fiddly, and very Appalachian to me. And it should. It’s kind of mountain string music.”
And then he talks about Lauryn Hill, Paul Simon, and Nina Simone, “this continual path to try to get to where some of my favorite artists are.”
Which is why Ben Sollee is serious about his interpretation of bluegrass. “What does bluegrass music sound like today if we continue to include cultures that live here? I’m trying to continue the actual act of what bluegrass music was and is, rather than maintaining a tradition. Adding a node to the tradition.”