Thursday, December 17, 2009
Americana singer-songwriter Elliot Randall says the vibe of his music stems from a single childhood memory: sitting on a wall in the backyard of his grandparents’ Charleston, South Carolina home, watching the Ashley River go by.
“I’d spend hours chasing fiddler crabs in the marsh and listening to the crickets,” Randall says.
This Friday the shaggy-haired musician brings his Southern sensibility – featuring Danielo Lopez on bass and Kyle Caprista on a stripped-down drum set – to the East Village in Monterey.
Country music was embedded into the young musician’s soul early on. He grew up listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard with his father, an amateur country singer.
“When I started playing music, country would always come out,” Randall says.
After moving to the Bay Area in high school, Randall really began embracing his Americana-country roots. The pay off has been substantial.
In 2007, shortly after Randall released his debut, Take the Fall, he played an effervescent cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to a dancing audience at The Independent in San Francisco.
Take the Fall is a wedge of authentic Americana music, guided by pedal steel and upheld by gentle narratives about the ups and downs of life.
“How to Get Old” features an abounding orchestra of piano and mandolin with an upbeat, country twang.
“Highway dreams they run dry, small town sleepers they give up/ Neon nights turn to fog, I know I’m alone/ Won’t someone tell me how to get old?” Randall sings with a breathy, Lyle Lovett flair.
“I’m always fascinated with those people that never ask questions about life,” Randall explains of the song. “But I’m one of those people that always has a lot of questions.”
“Elephant” is about Randall’s experience dating a girl who lived upstairs from him during his second year in college. His living situation and romantic situation ended on a sour note. On the night Randall moved out, the girl threw a party and rubbed it in his face. The “elephant” (Randall) was no longer in the room.
“Put your dress on, fix yourself up/ Let everyone know, the elephant is gone,” Randall sings.
The vintage drones of a Hohner organ and a slinky slide guitar paint a picture that is beautifully honest.
With the help of Take the Fall’s success, Randall was able to score David Simon Baker – who has produced big names like Jerry Garcia and Jack Johnson – to co-produce his new album, due out in late January.
The recently completed Caffeine and Gasoline is a tribute to the necessities of life on the road, another homage to the music that runs red, white and blue through Randall’s veins.
The 26-year-old talent’s accessible songwriting continues to draw attention within the Bay Area’s local music scene; last January, he played his first headlining show at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, to a sellout crowd.
And this past spring, Randall performed Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate” with the San Francisco Songwriters Coalition, which includes Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead, at San Francisco State.
For the next few months Randall will tour in support of his forthcoming album – and hopefully chase some fiddler crabs on his off days.
ELLIOT RANDALL plays 8pm Friday, Dec. 18, at East Village, 498 Washington St., Monterey. Free. 373-5601.