Which of these things doesn’t belong?
D) ticket money
Let’s explore the list.
The cello is the instrument of choice for musical artist Ben Sollee. Influenced by his classical training, his grandfather’s bluegrass music, his father’s R&B guitar style and today’s pop/folk/alternative/world music, Ben has crafted what feels like an entirely new genre of music that requires the cello to mimic other instruments. His effortless vocal tones and impassioned lyrics are grounded by his bow as his fingers dance on the strings. Beautifully balanced percussion completes the minimalist ensemble sound.
The bicycle is the mode of transportation for Ben Sollee’s “Ditch the Van” tour. Ben— along with percussionist Jordan Ellis, the tour manager and a crew member—created this rather unusual caravan to feel more connected to the people and places where they play. It requires them to slow down and appreciate the communities, to connect to the world in a more personal manner than is possible in the typical van, bus or truck that speeds touring performers along the interstate highways from one venue to the next.
A smile is, by generally accepted definition, “a facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth, indicating pleasure.” You’ll find one on the face of Ben Sollee, a natural response to the pure joy he feels when creating and sharing his music. You’ll also find a smile on the face of each person who has chosen to be present for the concert. It will be seen as an expression of interest, appreciation, encouragement and bliss as the music transports each listener to another realm.
It must be obvious by now that the ticket money is the one thing from our list that doesn’t belong. That’s right—this is a free performance hosted by The Hangout in Gulf Shores. You could pay to experience Ben Sollee’s artistry at any number of other tour stops, but it’s an extra bonus to use that money to feed your earthly body while Ben and company feed your musical soul.
On Wednesday, November 2, at 7 p.m., you’ll fully understand the combination of a cello, a bicycle and a smile. Oh, it won’t require any effort—the moment Ben Sollee takes the stage, you’ll know it was meant to be.
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