Kentucky singer-songwriters Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore recently brought their ‘Dear Companion' tour to North Side Tavern on 2/19/10. The collaborative album was produced by fellow Kentuckian Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and released nationally prior to their Cincinnati visit on 2/16/10. The message behind Dear Companion is to raise awareness of Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) and those throughout the Appalachian region impacted by it. What is MTR, you ask? Essentially it is the process of using explosives to "remove" (ok, blast) overburden rock and subsoil to reach underlying coal seams. The act ruins biodiversity in surrounding areas and can potentially cause health problems to surrounding inhabitants due to airborne exposure of dust and toxins.
Shake It Records hosted the tour first on Friday for an in-store album signing. The pair later took the stage at North Side Tavern with two fellow talented musicians, Cheyenne Marie (guitar, violin) and Dan Dorff (percussion). Songs from Dear Companion translated well live, taking the room through a bevy of emotions. The room seemed to stand still and focus on Ben's cello on "Try"; while the closing song and title track "Dear Companion" showed the room a stomp-clapping good time. The additional highlight to the evening was watching Ben Sollee take the drums while Cheyenne Marie showed off her vocal styling. The only down side to the night was trying to spot Ben Sollee from the back while he played seated. It was certainly a humorous sight if you lacked the vantage point to see Ben Solle perform a solo song while the rest of the band stood in silence looking around the room. Even without seeing members of the band at times, the music of Dear Companion filled the room with its imagery.