Jen Elliott moved from Florida to Murray Hill to join the growing cast of independent artists at Lower Manhattans City Canyons Records. She and her songwriting partner, Anne Husick, begin their five-week residency at Gate House on March 10.
Rising musician announces Battery Park residency
By Steven Snyder
Reflecting on the unlikely adventure that has not only brought her notoriety as a rising musician, but has also sent her journeying across the country from Florida to New York City, Jen Elliott said she was originally afraid to chase her dream.
So it chased her instead.
I had always sung, but I never thought of taking it to the level where Im at now, Elliott said, recalling the night when her passion to sing overwhelmed her shy sensibilities. Actually, I really tried hard to not do it.
I remember just after college I told one of my friends, Just dont tell anyone else and come with me, I want to sing at an open mic tonight, and this may be really awful, but I have to do this I cant not do this any more.
And the momentum that began that night, in an impromptu performance on an open mic stage, has never really slowed down.
Moving beyond her background in science she majored in, of all things, geology at the University of Florida Elliott kept writing songs and performing at open mic nights at the Flys Tie Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach, Florida. One night a few years ago, her set at the pub was recorded on CD, and that raw cut soon landed in the hands of Trevor Lloyd, head of Lower Manhattans indie record label City Canyons Records.
At that time, Lloyd was building City Canyons, and he liked what he heard in Elliotts tunes: A unique mix of styles and genres from soul to blues, R & B, and rock and roll sung with a punch and an energy that has garnered favorable comments from publications as diverse as Entertainment Weekly and the Urban Tulsa Weekly.
After relocating to the Murray Hill neighborhood to be closer to the record label, Elliott and her band, Bluestruck, released their first album, The Secrets Out, in 2003. Nearly three years later, an E.P. featuring tracks from her new album, This Damn Song, is set to be released later this year.
And starting March 10, her career takes another twist, as she begins a five-week acoustic residency at Battery Park Citys Gate House with band mate and songwriting collaborator, Anne Husick.
As the two have worked together, developing rock songs for both of Elliotts albums, as well as working together at the New York City Guitar School where both are instructors, they have forged a strong working relationship that has evolved to include a fair bit of acoustic experimentation.
Elliott and Husick said they are both looking forward to their time at the Gate House, which will include four Friday evening performances on March 10, 17, 24 and April 7, leading up to the release of Elliotts second album and a 2006 tour that will include venues throughout the Northeast.
Elliott said it gives both her and Husick the chance to take musical risks they otherwise would not be able to try.
We love to do something like this, Elliott said. With this residency, its the regularity of playing in the same place and getting more into the meat of the songs that allows you to experiment more.
With this acoustic project, its really much more a partnership of the two of us, where well experiment and write something and try different arrangements its a lot of fun.
Husick, an experienced musician who has worked with a long and impressive list of artists during her decades in the business including Keith Richards, Joey Ramone and Wilson Pickett, said she feels as if she has found something special in her partnership with Elliott. She also said she welcomes the new challenges she is facing in preparing for an acoustic residency.
Its pushing me, because Ive always been the rhythm player and now its pushing me into lead stuff, which I like, Husick said.
Working with Jen is great, she added. Were together all the time, its like were married, and our music is our baby, and were buying a public address system for these shows and thats almost like our wedding commitment. Well take that on the road later this year.
The duos residency also seems like a win-win for the record label and the venue sponsoring their four shows. For City Canyons Records, which has added many more independent artists since Elliotts first days with the label, it offers a unique opportunity to highlight one of its featured performers, and promote the bands highly-anticipated upcoming album.
Husick said it is also a win for the area, and points to yet more growth in the revived Battery Park City neighborhood.
Theyve gone through a lot of hardships since 9/11, and its beautiful to be able to play down there, she said. I love Battery Park City and Im glad people are starting to come back and theyre having more cultural events there.
Find more information about Elliot, Husick and their band, Jen Elliott and the Bluestruck, or listen to free clips from their upcoming album, at www.citycanyons.com/jenelliott.