Zach Brock, Harry Pickens And Ben Sollee At The Kentucky Center

By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

These superb artists, Kentucky natives Zach Brock and Ben Sollee (violin and cello, respectively), and now Louisvillian Harry Pickens (piano) enthralled the audience at the Kentucky Center's Bomhard Theater on August 18 for the 25th Anniversary of the Governor's School for the Arts. Brock is a 1991 alumnus, and Pickens and Sollee teach there. Both Pickens and Sollee addressed the audience during their musical segments, speaking of the life-changing experience of the students at GSA, and how they, in turn, were inspired by their students. The evening reflected the diversity of the program, with recent alumni presenting spoken word pieces interspersed throughout the musical offerings, and opening with an Alumni Choir performing hymns.

Brock's first piece was a gorgeous, unaccompanied version of the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic "Blue in Green," after which he was joined by up-and-coming violinist and singer/songwriter Maggie Lander and Pickens for Landers' lovely "Miss Me Moon." Pickens performed John Lennon's classic "Imagine," stretching out with his regular bassist Chris Fitzgerald, plus Terry O'Mahoney on drums. Pickens remained onstage for a solo spotlight, after which Sollee performed a lengthy solo resolving into his "Teach Me." Sollee stayed onstage, joined by Brock and Fitzgerald, for "Electrified" and "Built for This." The cross-genre artistry of the musicians seemed especially appropriate for the setting. They closed, with Landers joining in, with Brock's "Almost Never Was," one of the mainstays of his original repertoire, and, "Summertime." The ovation was well-deserved; if there was any downside to the program, it was only the lack of an encore. Regardless, this was a night of generation-spanning musicianship and all the participants gave their utmost. For further information on the Governor's School for the Arts, go to