Eric Underwood ditches the band, comes down from the treehouse
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., February 5, 2002) – Eric Underwood worked his way up on the regional music scene headlining a band that bore his own name and, with a violin in the group and lots of minor-key folk-rock anthems in the repertoire, one seemingly patterned along the lines of the Dave Matthews Band.
But with Underwood’s brand new CD, Down from the Treehouse, the follow-up to the Eric Underwood Band’s The Light Behind You, the singer-songwriter has done a 180-degree turn.
While the minor-key melodies are still prevalent, the band is gone and in its place are just Underwood’s voice and acoustic guitar accompanied by the versatile, haunting cello stylings of Underwood’s new duet partner, Eladia, who also lends occasional vocal harmonies.
Eric Underwood and Eladia, as they bill themselves, celebrate the release of their new CD on Wednesday, February 13, at Club Helsinki, at 8:30 (528-3394). Don DiLego, who produced Down from the Treehouse, which was recorded at Underwood’s home studio, will warm up the crowd for the duo.
Down from the Treehouse is a dark, intimate album, colored heavily by Eladia’s gorgeous cello, which lends a timeless, mournful quality to the already timeless, mournful ballads composed by Underwood, an Adams native who was himself something of a childhood prodigy on violin, performing with the Berkshire Symphony at age 12.
Something of the texture of violin and classical music informs Underwood’s songs on Down from the Treehouse, which with few exceptions – most notably “Jericho,” which works up a sensual froth – are constructed of delicate latticework of Underwood’s whispery vocals, his rhythmic guitar strumming, and Eladia’s moody counterpoint.
Here and there one hears traces of the Beatles – another folk group that once put cello to good use – and other late-1960s/early-‘70s English folk groups, as well as hints of some of the more angst-laden grunge-rock of the early-‘90s, albeit unplugged-style. But for the most part, on Down from the Treehouse, Eric Underwood and Eladia have invented an original sonic blend. For more info visit www.ericunderwood.com.
Tonight Club Helsinki presents folk-rocker Mark Erelli, with opener Stephen Kellogg, and tomorrow night the venue features the Lost Trailers.
There will be two musicians and composers on stage at the Kellogg Music Center at Simon’s Rock College at 8 tomorrow night, but not a musicial instrument in sight when Bob Gluck and Joe Reinsel join forces for a concert of solo and duet electronic music.
Computers will be generating most of the sounds, as will Gluck’s battery of home-built electronic instruments including the eShofar, an electronically processed ram’s horn, and the eSaz, an electronically processed Turkish-classical stringed instrument. Reinsel, who teaches electronic music at Simon’s Rock and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., performs his “structured improvisations” on
a laptop computer.
Reinsel’s field of study is the visualization of sound. He has worked with film composers in Los Angeles on the manipulation of sound and image in time-based media, and he has built an interactive performance system called “Electric Kumungo” with Alex Noyes. Reinsel is currently collaborating with violinist Leroy Jenkins and video artist Mary Griffin to build a video performance system called “Jenkin 2.”
Gluck, formerly spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Great Barrington, works primarily with interactive sound installations and electroacoustic soundscape composition. His recording, Stories Heard and Retold, is a series of sonic collages drawing upon sound objects from Jewish ritual life – a kind of electronic midrash, or commentary. Gluck teaches electronic music at the State University of New York at Albany, and is the associate director of the Electronic Music Foundation in Troy.
For more information about the concert, which is free, call the Simon’s Rock music department at 528-0771.
Tomorrow night, the Teri Roiger Trio from Woodstock, N.Y., performs at the Castle Street Café. As heard on her CD, Misterioso, Roiger is a sophisticated jazz vocalist who favors compositions by Thelonious Monk and and Charles Mingus, sometimes offering original lyrics inspired by the tunes. She also performs original songs by her trio partner and arrranger, bassist John Menegon. When they’re not performing, the two teach at Williams College and at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Tomorrow night, Red in Pittsfield presents Eastern Massachusetts singer-songwriter Lori McKenna. With her reedy twang and tales of domestic woe and bliss on her recent album, Pieces of Me, the Stoughton native, mother of three and self-described “laundry diva” comes on like New England’s answer to Stacey Earle. The Berkshires’ own Meg Hutchinson, touting her great new live album, Any Given Day, will warm up the crowd for McKenna.
[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on February 8, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]
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