Free Show: Ben Sollee at House of Blues Downstairs

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It's not every day you hear a cellist bust out socially aware, Randy Newman-esque pop yarns. Kentuckian Ben Sollee sings plaintive, soulful slices of song like the kind that made Newman famous and so very influential in the '70s. Sollee is only 24 years old, yet he somehow bridges the generation gap with his own Jack Johnson-croon while maintaining an ear to the classicism of older and milder generations.

His "Only A Song" echoes so many young guys feelings of bewilderment in our utterly harrowing and harried times, singing about driving through ghettoes and feeling ashamed of growing up in safe quiet suburbs.

He's a Kentucky man through and through, with almost all of his management team and label based out of Louisville. Solee's debut, Learning To Bend, features his own reworking of Sam Cooke's epic "A Change Is Gonna Come", that seems to fit the current national climate of transformation and trepidation.

8:30 p.m. tonight at House of Blues (restaurant), 1204 Caroline, 800-402-5837 or www.hob.com/houston.


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