Kentucky songwriter, composer and storyteller Ben Sollee returns to the Pocahontas County Opera House Friday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m., following the October release of his latest album.
In Sollee’s first full-length studio record in four years, Infowars, the cellist teams up with his longtime collaborator, drummer Jordon Ellis. The two dive deep into heavy cello and drum grooves, adventurous instrumentals, and achingly beautiful songs. It is a record that both broadens and extends the songwriter’s already eclectic sound by incorporating electronics, field recordings, and samples to a create a cinematic quality that defies genre.
Sollee and Ellis were on a quest to capture the energy and dynamics that inhabit their live performances.
“Together, Ben and I have been a part of countless shows and projects over the years, but have never had the chance to sit down in the studio, dig in, and create a new record as just a duo” Ellis said. “This record embodies a unique sonic and musical aesthetic that has been bouncing around in our brains for years, and that we have really wanted to get out and onto a project.”
In the spirit of power duos like The Black Keys and The Benevento/Russo Duo, Solee and Ellis combine their creativity and virtuosity to generate a sound that is much bigger than its individual parts.
“Listening to this record is like looking through a scrapbook or reading a diary,” according to Sollee. “Jordon and I stitched together audio memories from our years on the road to inspire new sounds and ideas.”
Like his contemporaries Chris Thile and Abigail Washburn, Sollee’s music is difficult to pin down. Following a performance at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, the New York Times remarked how Sollee’s “…meticulous, fluent arrangements continually morphed from one thing to another. Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played.” It’s Ben’s quality of narrative and presence on stage that unifies his musical influences. However, always on the move, Sollee’s musical career has expanded beyond the stage.
Tickets to the November 18 concert are $10. Youth 17 years and younger are admitted free of charge. Advance tickets are available at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.
The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Dramas, Fairs and Festivals and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.