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Ben Sollee and the Jesse Lees // Live @ Headliners // 6.13.21

Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright


I suppose we all make the mistake of presupposing that we know what expect when we go to see a cello concert. We would be wrong. Ben Sollee and The Jesse Lees layed out a set that wound through soul, hip-hop, and smokin’ high energy rock that matched the heat of the black asphalt parking lot that hosted the show on this 93 degree Sunday afternoon.

Sollee, deciding in elementary school to play some kind of instrument, chose the cello because he was drawn to its particular sound and, no one else was interested. How he would apply himself to the unusual choice was no doubt quite a surprise to his teachers. Sollee would compose blues, soul, jazz, bluegrass and Americana inspired compositions that would see him recording with blues and jazz player Otis Taylor, touring with Bela Fleck and his wife, banjo picker Abigail Washburn, and playing one-offs with My Morning Jacket.

Sollee’s collaboration with Louisville natives, The Jesse Lees, was, and will be for the forseeable future his most unique pairing and certainly the most genre busting performance of his shows planned through November. The Jesse Lees opened the show with their own “64 East,” a nod to the interstate that runs through Louisville to St. Louis.

Sollee joined them on and off throughout the seventeen song set, taking leads now and then. It was difficult to describe them as “solos,” as such, but he always stood out, plucking, strumming, bowing, and even slapping his cello strings like a funky bass. He showed himself to be an accomplished composer and singer on is own original material.

Sollee continues to score movies and television, including actor Robin Wright’s directorial debut, “Land,” released last February. Sollee has performances booked into November, solo, in duos, and with his band, Kentucky Native. Check




Michael W. Bright
Michael W. Bright enjoyed a 30 year career in rock radio, both on the air and in management, most notably as Program Director at seminal Alternative Rock icon WFNX in Boston. He currently lives on a small farm outside of Louisville, Kentucky with his huge family.