Sheer poetry in musical notes

Impressive duo

Every audience member at Windmills Craftworks was made a believer in the power of music at the recently-held concert by American singer-songwriter and cellist Ben Sollee, who was accompanied by percussionist Jordan Ellis on his second visit to Bangalore in the last one year.

A self-made musician from Kentucky, Ben presented a unique genre-bending set of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R‘n’B tunes. Nearly each song was opened with a vivid story narrating the circumstances that inspired it – from describing how he felt watching his six-year-old son Oliver’s first bicycle ride, which inspired ‘Slow Down’, to sharing how each album is a collection of self-portraits, there was sheer poetry in his words, be it in the lyrics or anecdotes.

Ben’s cello, which he fondly calls Kay, was an object of wonder for the crowd, who applauded after each solo. His versatility not only came through in his singing but also the styles in which he played the unique instrument. Jordan did not fail to impress either, moving swiftly from his drum kit to the cajon to creating beats on the cello itself. There was a sense of familiarity between the musicians, who showed impeccable style and timing.

 “It was one of the most sublime and beautiful portrayals of earnest music. Ben has an incredible talent for storytelling, which is rarely found in artistes these days. The cello was beautiful but his voice, which was raw and pure, overpowered everything else. The chemistry between the two musicians was so natural that it felt like they were cut out from the same cloth,” said Mehul, who attended the concert.

The honest expression came through clear and strong in songs like ‘It’s Not Impossible’, ‘Electrified’, ‘Prettiest Tree on the Mountain’, ‘DIY’ and ‘Captivity’ among others. A few covers like Harry Belfonte’s ‘Dolly Dawn’ and Paul Simon’s ‘Obvious Child’ worked well with the audience as did the groovy basslines of Rudolph David, the creative head at Windmills, who joined them for a few songs.

Ben donned a big smile after the performance. “There were a couple of spots where I was still adjusting to being here. But I love telling stories and sometimes, they take a twist when you’re telling them in a foreign country, which is fun. I didn’t have expectations on how I wanted my music to be interpreted. But I think that people got the vibe of what we were trying to communicate in the songs, whether it was joy or overcoming challenges,” said the cellist.

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