Amber Lee and the Anomalies
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Amber Lee and the Anomalies

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Best Use of Dangerous Instruments"

It's common knowledge: use an accordion, go to jail. Use an accordion and a banjo in the commission of a Depeche Mode cover, and you're going away for a long time, sweetheart. So far, Amber Lee and the Anomalies have evaded justice. The outlaw band is still hitting area pubs and cafes, sometimes crossing state lines. Authorities have identified Amber Lee Baker, a redheaded Caucasian female, as the button-woman and self-styled songstress. "Anomalies" was believed to be something of a red herring, that there was just one anomaly, a svelte banjo-plucking brunette swaying as if in a narcotic trance; recently, the gang added a wisecracking fiddle player with a penchant for violins.
Sometime-accomplices include a drummer and bassist, but there's no telling what's in the black instrument case. A composite sketch of their set list reveals a pattern of keening ballads about lonely whalers' wives, monsters and graveyards resembling slowed-down Decemberists songs were they wheezed from an accordion by a camp counselor gone cheerfully goth. Might be depressing, were it not for Amber Lee's bright, tune-carrying voice and singular wholesomeness. An employee at one of the affected venues claims that they drove her out of her mind; others report that the perps easily charmed them and then stole their hearts. When they break out an amusingly dirgey rendition of "Waiting for the Night to Fall" from Depeche Mode's Violater , few can resist handing over cash tips. Citizens, be vigilant.
Amber Lee and the Anomalies' CD release party is May 10 at the Toad in the Hole Pub, 116 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 707.544.8623.—J.K.
- The North Bay Bohemian

"Amber Lee and the Anomalies"

... Amber Lee & The Anomalies has what she terms “neo-folkloric accordion charm,” and I am not about to disagree! Her debut album, Estuaries, is indeed full of such charm. Songs like Not As The Crow Flies and It’s Me stretches the limit of upbeat accordion music. That does not mean it’s always happy music, of course; the music on Only The Girls reminds me of the darker moments of The Tiger Lillies’ album The Sea, and well, you just can’t expect songs called Whaler’s Wife or Beautiful Decay to be too cheerful. Her vocals keep anything from getting too dark, though. Listen to her song Time Master below, it’s the opening track of her album and one of my favorites.
- :either/or music blog

"Amber's Accordion - Singer-songwriter re-invents herself with the squeezebox"

Five years ago, Amber Lee Baker picked up an accordion and decided to write songs with it, which makes about as much sense as finding some bamboo and twine and deciding to catch fish. I mean really - it's one of the bulkiest, clunkiest instruments in the world, not to mention all those hundreds of confusing buttons. Just looking at it is a task. But Baker has caught the proverbial fish, catching one after another, seeing her songwriting flourish since she switched from the piano. In a move to reinvente herself after a weekly residency of performing solo in an upscale restaurant, Baker rangled up a modest but tasteful backing band - Muir Houghton on upright bass and Karen Frindell on banjo - and wrote, wrote, wrote.

Canvasing Eastern-European folk music, sea-chanteys, and gypsy styles, Baker's songs seem to be inspired, at least in part, by a fantasy of her own design: midnight moons howl and gloat; vampires and hounds take to chasing wreckless souls; rodeo clowns haunt roadside bars. But at her best, Baker splashes in a reality of empty glasses and broken hearts. A newer song "Into Thin Air," captures the conflicting emotions of leaving a discontent lover with simple precision: "I went away to find my head," she sings, "When I came, back your eyes were dead." If she keeps at it for another five years, the girl is going to be a force to be reakoned with.

Amber Lee and the Anomalies perform this Friday, March 9th, at North Light Books and Cafe. 550 East Cotati Ave, Cotati. 7pm. Free. 707.792.4300.

- North Bay Bohemian

"Amber Lee and the Anomalies comes to Arcata"

Monica Topping For the Times-Standard
Posted: 04/02/2009 01:17:16 AM PDT

The anomaly is that Amber Lee Baker is up on stage by herself, calling herself a band. Once a group of back-up musicians and “sidekicks,” the anomalies are now a conglomeration of percussion instruments, loop pedals and a variety of other inanimate objects that sit behind the lady and her accordion.
Baker never knew she would be an accordion player. She took piano lessons as a young girl, played flute in the middle school band and sang in a 12-piece a capella group while in college at U.C. Berkeley.
”I learned a lot about arrangement and parts and singing harmonies and group dynamics and how to be in a band where everyone had to pull their weight somehow,” says Baker.
Her job was designing the group's show posters. But two years of singing other people's songs also made her want to break out on her own.
”That was kind of what geared me toward thinking 'gosh, I want to do original pieces instead of covers,'” she says, “because I'd been doing covers in that group for two years and got kind of burnt out.”
And so began the search for an instrument to accompany Baker. She started playing piano again, then took some guitar lessons and wasn't entirely impressed.
”And when I picked up an accordion in a music shop about six years ago, it just felt like home,” says Baker. “It was almost this immediate recognition that this is my instrument and it started me on the path of being an accordion player.
”There's a very loyal tribe of people who are accordion players and there's a great community of accordion people that I've been able to connect with,” she continues. “So I took accordion lessons for about a year, just to learn some technique and started writing a bunch of songs. I don't call myself an accordion virtuoso or anything. I'm mostly a singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on the accordion.”
Baker took some time figuring out where to find her songwriting muse and ended up studying a book called “The Artist's Way,” by Julia Cameron. She took the lessons to heart.
”I started...doing a lot of soul-searching and taking my life as an adventure, and then lyrics just started flowing,” says Baker. “I started playing at open mics to get over my fear of singing original music in front of people, little-by-little, step-by-step.”
Baker and her band mates, the original Anomalies, recorded and released an album last year, called “Estuaries.”
”Right after the CD was released, the classic thing happened and my band broke up,” says Baker. “So I continued to use the name because one, I like it, and two, I put together a one woman show which involves my playing the glockenspiel and using a loop pedal which has a couple of backing tracks and a bunch of percussion and some vocal harmonies that I do.
”I thought, 'Well, anomaly still applies,' and I have all these toys on-stage with me that I call my anomalies, now. So it's still Amber Lee and the Anomalies, now, it's just most of my anomalies are inanimate objects, at the moment.”
Amber Lee and the Anomalies will play at Muddy's Hot Cup on Tuesday, April 7, at 5 p.m.
Her music can be found online at or
- The Times Standard


Debut full length album - "Estuaries" 2008



Amber Lee Baker has been on a steady climb, bringing the accordion and her well crafted tuneful songs to the masses. 2008 marked a great year for Baker as she performed at the Cotati Accordion Festival and participated in the 2009 Greater Bay Area Accordion Babe Pin-Up Calendar. She had the distinct honors of performing at the First Annual Great West End & Railroad Square Handcar Regatta and playing accordion in a band for the dance troupe Fou Fou Ha at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. She also had shows with The Alkali Flats, 5 Cent Coffee and the globe-tottering Uni and her Ukelele.

Amber Lee will be hosting a residency at the Orchard Spotlight in March 2009 as well as touring the North Coast from San Francisco to Seattle in April of 2009.

Despite centuries of international acclaim, the accordion has been mostly ignored or, most recently, relegated to the status of an alternative, retro instrument in American music. Unencumbered by this trend, songwriter Amber Lee Baker grabbed her accordion and proceeded to make sweet, sweet music with it so that the world can know its true beauty.

Baker was born in Oakland, CA and raised in Sacramento where she began playing music at age eight. She started off on the piano and flute and moved on to Voice and Theater in her teens. Despite her nigh-limitless talent for music, her practical sensibilities lead her to study architecture at UC Berkeley where she received her degree in 1997. Her musical ambitions, however, remained and she sought to find her creative voice in music. While at UCB, she was accepted into the highly respected Artists in Resonance were she lent her bawdy alto voice to pop covers such as Nina Simone’s “Gimme Some,” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

After graduation, Baker relocated to Santa Rosa where she planned on starting a career as an architect. Music, however, beckoned and she eventually bought a few instruments and performed with musicians around town but nothing came of any of it…until that fateful day at the Cotati Accordion Festival in August of 2002. It was there that she first laid hands on the accordion. She was instantly connected to it, purchased it and, after a year of lessons, focused her career on songwriting. Baker started writing her own songs and began performing at open mic nights around the North Bay Area to get her feet wet.

After a few collaborations, she created Amber Lee and The Anomalies with Karen Frindell on banjo, Muir Houghton on bass, Randy Meza on drums and Brian Carlisle on fiddle and mandolin. The group released their debut, Estuaries, in May of 2008.

Though she no longer plays with her former group, she has kept her full band name because her “current solo performance involves a loop pedal, glockenspiel and odd percussion instruments” thereby keeping The Anomalies alive on stage. “Anomalies can be anything,” she adds.