Ok, first of all I have to say that this is one of a small handful of bands I’ve dealt with that took the time to put together a press kit this detailed and helpful. I mean it had everything. It was organized and informative, included a CD in its own sealed pouch, high-gloss photo, genuine press clippings, typed lyrics and all the pertinent information of an FBI document without the funny jokes, guffaws or goofball super hero references about each member. This is the absolute industry standard that bands need to look at and apply immediately to their own branding because writers love this kind of stuff. It allows us to concentrate on the music and not have to go track down facts and hearsay from a dozen sites (it’s exhausting). But that’s the stuff this band is made of. From top to bottom Tara Elliott And The Red Velvets leave nothing to chance in their presentation to their fans.
Tara Elliott is often described in print as the “bastard child of Janis Joplin and The Stooges,” and while she can match Pearl note for guttural note while going head to head with the late Ronnie Ashton, I rate her much closer to Johnette Napolitano and James Andrew Mankey with her full-toned vocals and her snarling guitar style. Elliott sends chills when she hits those full bore mids and junkyard lows like no other mother. Her ability to hold the attention of hipsters, rockers and blues maniacs means mastery over the common social denominator button and most importantly, possible attention from the ever jaded music industry looking for something that’s not phony bullshit.
Elliott handles the guitar as well as any male counterpart in the game. Utilizing a cool 1969 Framus Caravelle (Damn! I want one), Tara pumps simple, intelligent phrasing, and toned “money shots” all over The RV’s self-titled EP with gusto. Along with bassist Jeff Phillips and drum kingpin Werner Wilding, the Red Velvets crush the rumour that being a blues-based band or a punker means being unschooled on your instrument. It doesn’t and they don’t. Elliott may downplay the background of her schloarship to Berklee College Of Music, but I dont.
Compositionally speaking, the band’s straight-ahead method couldn’t work better. They understand how to play hot potato with a dynamic bridge or choruses that center you under the bead before Elliott’s lead guitar picks you off like a 10 pin at the Asbury Lanes. And that’s the beautiful cause and effect point of what they do.
Tara Elliott And The Red Velvets five-song self-titled disc was a focused representation of what they’re all about and I took some time to tour the sounds. “Just Wanna Be Me” jumps right into your face with a good old fashioned “2,3,4” Ramones count off and dirty razored guitar all taken from behind ala Philips and Wilding. The lyrical content brings forth images of broken whiskey bottles, backstabbing bitches (could it be the Asbury version of Amadeus and the Antonio Salieri connection?) galore.
Dirty double entendres like in “Ride,” where Elliott confesses her addiction for down home-driven fun with her full throttle screams as she sings, “Baby you got yours / honey I have mine / baby, let’s go for a ride.” Social D guitars grind it out underneath hypnotic back beats and lead bass—yep, you heard right—lead bass lines rule. The Chris Isaak vibe of “Take The Time” turns the action on its head, melding pitch perfect vocals with shimmering tube fueled six strings, bass and drum anchorage before kicking into this power ballad territory. I’ve said it many times before, the ballad is not easy to pull off but The Red Velvets do a damn fine job of keeping me from wandering into the kitchen for a hot pocket while the tune plays out.
Standout work from a passionate band that embraces their punk and blues roots with enthusiasm while adding smart new ideas along the road to Sodom and Gomorrah. I can’t wait to see what they do in with a full-length platter. Tara Elliott And The Red Velvets will be appearing live at The Wonder Bar in marvelous downtown Asbury Park on Feb. 20 where she’ll be opening for The New York Dolls’ Steve Conti. This is a show not to miss! For further info go to myspace.com/taraelliottblues or hit up thewonderbar.com.
New Jersey Artists Take Over The Millennium Music Festival In PA
New Jersey invades Pennsylvania for The Annual Millennium Music Conference that runs Feb. 18-20 at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center with over 30 showcase venues in and around Harrisburg. Nearly 300 bands from as close as Camp Hill and as far as Australia are booked to showcase. The best part of this is the number of New Jersey acts involved has been increased much more than years gone by which is a significant development made possible by Kathy Falcey of Tunes2ya, a New Jersey booking and management firm located in our fair weathered state. Kathy has worked hard to give the conference its proper Jersey representation and the groups involved for this years Millennium Music Conference are a pleasant cross section of hand-picked Jersey talent that covers everything from folk, country, blues and good ole’ rock and roll.
The conference, now in its 14th year, features two afternoons of music business panels, clinics, workshops, mentoring sessions and one-of-a-kind industry trade show. Music industry professionals will attend and participate as speakers, mentors, exhibitors and talent scouts. Got a question about this crazy business of music? Well, Legal Representation For The Up-And-Coming Artist, Creating A Creative Career, Publishing In The Digital Age, Artist Development, Online Music Marketing And Cyber PR, a Songwriting Workshop and panels on Urban Music, Artist Management and Studio Recording & Production are also featured during the daytime events. So sharpen your pencils and raise those hands for answers by the best in the biz. But of course for me, the best part is the music. Performers such as The Chuck Schaffer Trio and his 7:45 p.m. Friday slot over at Midtown Scholar Café and Bookstore, as well as Christopher Morse’s 8:45 p.m. slot at Mercado Pizza, along with 9:30 p.m. Shaun Ruymen and 10:15 p.m. Kelly Carvin.
Williamsboy and his 9 p.m. Double K Tavern spot and other hot New Jersey players such as Christian Beach at Carley’s Ristorante & Piano Bar at 10:15 p.m. and Eryn Shewell’s 11 p.m. slot at Malone’s on Saturday, as well as Lisa Bianco at Conkley’s Irish Pub at 11 p.m. also—man, decisions—jazz and bop king Tjay and others will also be involved throughout the conference grounds. While the festival kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 18, New Jersey takes over on Friday so come out and support if you can make it over the border. Head over to the website to check full schedules for performances and other fun stuff at musicconference.net and tunes2ya.com for info on other musical opportunities.