Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore.
Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. Guy Mendes
Kentucky boys Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore came together to sing the praises of Appalachia on their new album, Dear Companion. The project began when Sollee and Moore bonded over their mutual love for the mountains in their home state — and, more to the point, shared a desire to end the practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining.
The duo decided to release a set of songs that would call attention to the issue, while also raising money to aid in the preservation of the Appalachian Mountains. In doing so, they found that their good friend (and fellow Kentuckian) Jim James of the band My Morning Jacket was on the same page about the issue, so he signed on as producer.
Live in WFUV's Studio A, Sollee and Moore led a quartet of musicians and brought unexpected lightheartedness to the material. Their voices complement each other, as do their instruments; with Sollee on cello and Moore on guitar and banjo, they've created a unique take on traditional mountain music, with modern soul and pop sensibilities mixed in. Clearly, the two have developed a strong friendship, too: They shared jokes about each other and often finished each other's sentences. It was a pleasure to talk with them and experience their fine musicianship firsthand.