Atlanta Friends: We need your help!

Friends and fans in Atlanta, your old Uncle Ben needs your help! We’re shooting a music video this week on the 16th and 17th for a song on the new record, Inclusions. We have a really powerful vision for the visuals but we need people to pull it off. If you have any availability or interest please contact Mary Puchalski at the below address. Thanks so much for your consideration and support!

Let’s use your riding footage in the upcoming music video!

In preparing for exciting things in the coming year, we’re filming a new music video and, with your help, would love to include your favorite bike ride in the video.  We’re calling for footage that shows “where you’ve been” on your most picturesque rides. Here’s how to help:

Maybe you have footage from an amazing bicycle excursion ready to go.  But if not, strap your camera to the back of your bike or helmet and point it backwards. Start rolling. Then start riding. Try to ride in the middle of the road or path that you are on (BUT BE CAREFUL). And try to make each take as long as you can. 2-3 minutes each is optimal. And most of all, we challenge you to surprise us with the most awesome, idiosyncratic, and dramatic ride-by scenery known to humankind.

Ideas / Thought-starters:
- Lush country road
- Shanti town
- Chinatown
- Concrete jungle
- Dusty desert road
- Small airport runway
- Abandoned city street
- Someplace that reads as Turkish / eastern Mediterranean
- Treelined street
- Road through rolling hills

HOW TO SUBMIT: Quicktime .MOVs are preferred if you can swing it. Send your footage to, and include your name, address, and Twitter account or other online URL if you have one so we can give you props! 

You can attach smaller files to your email, but if you have a larger file, consider  posting it to Vimeo and sending us a link (marking the option to allow downloads of the video). Or you can use a file sharing service like YouSendIt to send the file to

Submissions are open now through February 9th!  And we’ll make sure to keep you up-to-date on the video progress through Facebook and Twitter and will drop you a line when the video is released.

LEGAL MUMBO JUMBO: By submitting your video, you give permission to use the footage in a music video, recognize that that video may be distributed or broadcast internationally, and release Ben Sollee and School of Humans, LTD, from all claims and demands arising out of or in connection with the use of your footage in the video.

This all star team of cello sledding athletes including Ben Sollee, Billy Bragg, Daniel Martin Moore and friends have assembled at Arthur’s Round Table, a neolithic monument in Cumbria, to further the development of this emerging new sport.

Not every backstage has an amazing, vintage bumper car on hand!

Not every backstage has an amazing, vintage bumper car on hand!

Give a tree with Oxfam America

In conversation with Oxfam America’s Anna Kramer we discussed the role of a song in social change. Check out the new video featuring Prettiest Tree on the Mountain encouraging people to get involved and give a tree with Oxfam Unwrapped.

Hello Scotland! We miss you…

Yesterday was some kind collage, dream-like, terror. Which is to say, it was very memorable.

On our way out of Penrith following a magical day of music, sites, and a new found love for bowling, Billy took us by a neolithic henge at Mayburgh. It was a massive circular bank of earth and rocks balanced on a single remaining rock it the direct center of the arena-like gathering space. Evidently there had been other stones that had been removed over the millenia, but it’s not by chance this one remained. As Billy, who has mind for historical detail, related to us, the people of the time choose stones in their natural state for these sites based on their masculine or feminine quality. This stone was most certain a femine stone inspired by the shape of the pregnant lady.

Even though a major highway (the M6) was close by there was a tender silence in the center of the henge. The scale and form of the stone, and the effort it obviously took to get it there was humbling. The craftmanship of nature, the critical eye of humans, and the desire to connect to something greater was still very tangeable.

As we exited the henge we noticed another formation in a neighboring field; the sign said King Arthur’s Table. And it certainly was a large, round plater of land surrounded by a moat-like ditch.  As, we walked around it I admired the shape of the land, exaggerted by the fresh layer of snow and it occured to me that I must sled this hill. 

I ran back the van a fetched my cello case, having had some experience in the past. The case is constructed of stiff carbon fiber and has a glossy, slick finish that makes it an incredibly smooth ride. So, I ran back to the field, past the sheep, over King Arthur’s Table, and laid the cello case against the neaolithic monument and slid. Immediately, everyone wanted to try.

First up was Grant Showbiz, our soundman, who was immediately transported 25 years back in time and giggled over and over as he slid down the hill. Next up was Billy, who considered it a challenge to try unique seating positions. Then Simon, the merch man, and Daniel Martin Moore. Everyone was in and as Grant says, “Oh, how we laughed.”

Back at the van our tour manager, Henry Cross, was getting word that further up the road, the winter weather was causing trouble in Scotland. So, when we all piled in we knew we might be in for a long journey. Fortunately, we took some time to prepare.

It was smooth sailing for 85% of the trip, it was the last 15% of the 2 hour drive that swelled in to 11 hours on the highway. Semi-trucks, or lollies as the gang calls them, were getting stuck. Traffic would be idle for 45 minutes sometimes only to figget a few hundred feet. We were hearing on the radio that people had been in their cars for hours waiting. All we could do was wait, but the gig in Glasgow, was certainly not looking likely.

The thing is, the weather was not that bad. It was no longer snowing, and there was only 6-8 inches on the ground. It’s just that it was really cold and not steps had been taken to winterize the roads. In the 11 hours we were on the highway we saw only two police cars, one emergency vehicle, and one salt truck (not salting our scraping). It was a massive infrastructure failure to an even that had been forecast days ago. People were abandoning their cars on the highway, whole busloads of people were stuck, the service station was out of diesel and any real food. The nearby hotels were loaded and it looked like we were going to be sleeping in the van.

We had to cancel the gig put pushed through the hours and hours of traffic to get to the Glasgow City Center where we had hotel rooms. Henry did all the driving and had a great air of chivalry when he got us there and we did the best thing we could think of to cope, shared some pints.

The story of Ditch the Van continues through the hills of Pennsylvania. Loads of fun riding along all the beautiful land cared for by Amish and Mennonites (who particularly resonated with out industrious bicycles).

We may not be on our bikes physically but virtually, the Ditch the Van tour lives on. In Chapter 10, we ride to the sustainability festival in Kempton, PA. A beautiful piece of riding and some very special new friends.

Train through Appalachia

After performing an early morning set for the folks at Appalachia Rising we hopped an Amtrak back to Kentucky. Katie and I are plotting out the script for the Idea Fest with coffee in hand. Jordon and Marty are resting… Marty has been editing videos like a mad scientist. The mountains are so beautiful, some of them with foggy hats. looking forward to being back in Kentucky.