The Palomino
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The Palomino


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"Elana McMurtry and the Palomino"

Elana McMurtry and The Palomino at The Dakota

Posted by Roger CullmanFiled in MusicApril 21, 2009
If you missed the awesome Neko Case shows a few days ago when she played Trinity St-Paul's Centre, fear not.

There's another beautiful voice in town that belongs to Elana McMurtry. It's kind of hard to pinpoint her sound. Her MySpace page says she sounds like "A wild raw road-trip between John Steinbeck and David Lynch."

I caught her blend of soulful, bluesy song last Tuesday at The Dakota Tavern. While she's not as established as Case, she's got a wealth of talent. And she's local to boot!

The "country jazz cabaret" style of music kind of reminded me of Tom Waits, sung by Mary Margaret O'Hara. Still, McMurtry's got the phrasing and gentle delivery all her own.

The Palomino is her band, featuring James Robertson on guitar, Brian Kobayakawa on double bass and Sly Juhas on drums and percussion.

Elana McMurtry and The Palomino play two sets tonight at The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., at Dundas starting at 9 p.m. PWYL (Pay What You Like).

Photos by Roger Cullman.

DJ on April 21, 2009 at 7:05 PM

They are outstanding. Not to be missed.

Stu on April 21, 2009 at 8:22 PM

Way better than going to Kings of Leon!
- Blog T.O.


Debut release: Fleet of Foot, produced by Dean Drouillard is recorded/mastered and being released early September on the Thorniac label, .



(see performance footage of 'Boozy Moon' on YouTube

Elana McMurtry and The Palomino's debut album, "Fleet of Foot" was produced by Dean Drouillard, and will be released in September on the Thorniac label.

Elana McMurtry fell in love with live music after seeing a Guelph production of the musical "OLIVER!". It's true, it was great. The Beatles, The Who, Meatloaf, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones, and Jimmy Reed were the important albums/artists she chose to spin on the times when the living room was free. At 9 yrs. she made stage debut in the "The Music Man", singin' and dancin' and with a few lines to boot. Older siblings were her early audience for her first songs, recorded on the communal tape recorder.

Heartbroken for the 1st time, Elana was 15, underage at a bar, when she sang again in public, with Gordie Johnson (pre-Big Sugar). Her also underage friend had convinced the band that she was Elana's manager and that her client was interested in singing with them. The band tuned up at the table, and Elana sang the Jimmy Reed songs that she knew with those beautiful players, to unanimous positive reception. And she got invited back.

Flash-forward 8 years. Elana is attending The National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal (acting) with classical guitar in tow. The neck is part split from the body, but it works. Songwriting begins.

While starting professional stage and film career in Toronto, Elana continues to write her songs, and then begins to build the band. Starting with guitar whiz James Robertson who began to help sculpt the more complex musical backing she dreamed of. James brought on board Brian Kobayakawa, a jazz and classically trained bassist, and Brian brought in the last piece of the equation in drummer Sly Juhas, jazz and rock heavyweight.

Within a month, the band snagged a residency at the legendary Cameron House, which gave the opportunity to cut their teeth in front of mesmerized audiences, drawing comparisons to Mary Margaret O'Hara, Portishead, Ricky Lee Jones and curiously enough, David Lynch's film work. And yet, The Palomino beautifully defies categorization. Producer Tim Thorney puts it well: "It's like music from a time that never existed". The truly unique sound and style of The Palomino were soon given the opportunity to grace some of Toronto's most important stages, The Mod Club, The Horseshoe, a residency at The Dakota Tavern, The Danforth Music Hall and The Phoenix, where they sold out of the first home-made demo. Concert promoter Gary Cormier, responsible for the Ramones first Canadian appearance, introduced himself in order to say "You are terrific. You've got IT."

That "'It'" is the chemistry of 4 virtuosic performers, laying it bare on stage to rapt response: "Elana McMurtry sets the stage on fire. A star in the making? Definitely". (Toronto Star)

The Palomino recently was backed by Rogers to make a film with director Kathi Prosser, who was inspired to write the film because of the impact of the music and the riveting stage show of The Palomino.

With their debut album set to press, The Palomino is poised to take their music on the road.

Sometimes haunting, always compelling, The Palomino takes the listener into an wild aural dream-space where pop can mix with an orchestral virtuosity.  Your imagination and expectation gets hooked, while being brought to musical reaches before uncharted.

The Individuals:

Elana McMurtry is a songwriter with a voice distinctive, arresting and utterly her own; drawing comparisons to Mary Margaret O'Hara, Ricky Lee Jones, and Bjork.

A professional actor of stage and screen, Elana McMurtry brings it on as singer/songwriter front-woman.

James Robertson studied jazz at York and is a founding member of Run with the Kittens. James co-produced their debut album, winner of the 2006 Toronto Independent Music award for Best live band. He also leads two bands of his own, Elvis Bossa Nova and Spy vs. Spy vs. Sly, while finding time to be one of Toronto's most in demand guitarists.

Brian Kobayakawa studied jazz at Humber College and studied classical composition at University of Toronto. He is a founding member of The Creaking Tree String Quartet, winners of 3 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and two-time Juno Award nominees. He also performs with Elvis Bossa Nova, Corin Raymond & The Sundowners, Treasa Levasseur, David Baxter, and many others.

Sly Juhas is one of Toronto’s most talented young drummers. Sly is a graduate of Humber College’s jazz studies program and has become a busy freelancer, working with notable musicians such as Rob McConnell, Lorne Lofsky, Pat LaBarbera, Laila Biali and Brandi Disterheft. In 2002 Sly won an international competition with the CROSSINGS Quartet that involved a workshop with the faculty of The Manhattan School of Music and a concert at Carnegie Hall. Sly played on the 2008 Juno Award wi