There aren’t very many things that will have Urban Woman up late at night. Whereas I’m getting started somewhere around 10:00 PM, she’s generally been asleep for hours. So what could possibly have her awake and actually out at that time of night? Ben Sollee.
The first time we heard Ben perform was at Tennessee Shines, a couple of iterations ago when it was live from the Bijou. Probably eight years ago or so, we went to quite a few of the shows in the series and they all featured amazing artists giving brief sets. When a nerdy looking fellow took the stage with a cello, I assumed he must know someone or had gained someone’s sympathy, so they gave him a spot on the show. I braced myself to see how the audience would respond to a cellist in an American environment.
Of course, I was ignorant. He began to play a funky rhythm on the cello while sing soulful lines to “Bury Me With My Car,” “It’s Not Impossible,” and one of the greatest live renditions of “A Change is Gonna Come,” I’d ever heard, which, as I think about it, settles in my mind that it was eight years ago because it was during the election.
After that concert we immediately bought his music, learned more about him and have enjoyed him ever since. We’ve seen him on multiple occasions, as well, including a great show at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens at Rhythm n Blooms. He’s never failed to entertain us and impress us with his skills both vocally and on the cello.
And so, when I proposed that we see him in a show at 10:00 PM, she was willing. The show, held at Scruffy City Hall, was a part of the Scruffy City Film and Music Festival. I’d enjoyed a number of the films over the previous two days and looked forward to hearing Ben Sollee. As always, he was spot on.
Clever, funny and talented, he brought all his charm to the show that night. Improvising as he went he made up funny songs playing off the word “scruffy,” getting the audience to sing along as he went. As always, finding a flaw in his performance would be very difficult. And the venue was perfect for the show. It was really hard to believe we were seeing Ben Sollee in such an intimate setting.
So, if you’ve not heard him, check him out. I’m including a video below to give you a sample. As is usually the case with concerts, I have many more photographs and I’ll post those to the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page later this weekend.