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Elaine Greer

Submitted by RamonLP4 on March 1, 2008 – 3:01 amOne Comment
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Elaine Greer by John Van

There is a very exciting point in a musician’s career when, after a long time of working on their craft, they realize what they do has a value outside of their own bedroom. If you were at the Proletariat and saw Elaine Greer perform to a packed crowd last month opening for the Fiery Furnaces, you couldn’t help but feel the giddiness of a musician at that stage. Standing on stage behind her Telecaster, you could almost hear her take a deep breath before diving in. Greer’s songs drip with sweet and simple melodies that hum inside your head long after you first hear them. In her home recordings, the songs are intimate and have an understated beauty but that night, with a full band (The Holly Hall), the songs ripped with confidence and endless possibilities. Zahira Gutierrez’s lovely harmonies and Guitarist Nick Cody’s clean and melodic guitar lines played elegantly against Greer’s vocals while JD Tucker and Grant Hickey’s drum and bass added some limber rhythmic muscle to the songs - the crowd ate up every note. The wonderful thing is, be it solo or as a member of The Holly Hall, Greer is still at a point where she has only just touched the needle down onto the record’s groove.

Greer began playing piano at 5. “I was jealous of my sister taking lessons so, when the piano teacher came over to give her a lesson, I ran upstairs, locked myself in the room with the piano, and started banging on it to show them how great I was - it worked!” Eventually, like many kids, she grew to dislike the lessons and quit. “Well,” says Greer sheepishly, “until recital! When recital came up I’d beg my mom to be back in the class just to do the recital. That would drive her crazy.” She also had a fixation with Broadway no doubt inspired by her father’s love of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. “He’d play it all the time and my sister and I would fight over who would be the girl but she’d always get stuck with being the guy.” Then, thinking about it, she laughs with a tinge of guilt, “I’m sure she still has bitter memories of that.” By age fourteen, she started writing songs but was too scared to show them to people. When she did work up the courage at around sixteen or seventeen she would do so only in the relative safety of her room and only while facing the wall.

Greer eventually did put aside her fears and joined The Bluebirds: “The songs were pretty raw and I wasn’t a very good singer yet, but Super Happy Fun Land let us play.” About a year after that first band’s dissolution, Greer teamed up with guitarist Nick Cody as an acoustic duo which lasted until last fall’s Westheimer Block Party. “We decided to add drums and bass just for the occasion. You know,” she says with glee, “It’ll be loud!” A few twists and turns later and that band coalesced into the band heard at the Fiery Furnaces show.

“We all had fun playing together, but from the beginning there was some turmoil within the band,” says Greer, “Nick and the others wanted to do their own things but at that point were still playing only my songs.” The solution was that Elaine Greer, the solo artist, and The Holly Hall, the band, had to become different entities. The Holly Hall would be more of a collaborative effort while Greer would be able to exert full control as a solo artist. In fact, Greer plans to release a solo EP later this year which will feature members of the Papermoons as well as other musicians. “It’s really exciting and I don’t want to sound like a control freak but I know how I want things to sound.”

When I ask her if this means she’s found her ideal voice as an artist she replies, “I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect ‘Elaine Greer’ voice but I think musicians and artists are always looking for their voice or what they are trying to convey…I think it’s something that probably changes throughout life as a person has more experiences and different things become more or less important.”

So how does it feel to have moved from her bedroom to the stage? “It’s a good feeling to get that audience feedback – knowing people are enjoying it. It’s my favorite thing in the world so I like the idea that it makes someone happy. There is a satisfaction in playing alone in a room to myself - it’s extremely enjoyable and that’s how I write everything - but,” she adds with a gracious modesty, “I never expected people to like it.”

Look for the Elaine Greer EP as well a release by the Holly Hall later this year.
Elaine Greer will be performing March 12th at the Westheimer Block Party.

 

The Holly Hall will be performing March 31st at The Mink with Teenage Kicks, Erin Tobey, and The Pink Razorblades.ELAINE GREER ON MYSPACE (link)

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