Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans
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Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans

Bend, Oregon, United States

Bend, Oregon, United States
Band Americana Country

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Aug
26
Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans @ Private Event

Sunriver, Oregon, USA

Sunriver, Oregon, USA

Apr
14
Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans @ McMenamin's St. Francis School

Bend, Oregon, USA

Bend, Oregon, USA

Apr
13
Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans @ Bronco Billy's

Sisters, Oregon, USA

Sisters, Oregon, USA

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Music

Press


By David Knowles
* * * * ½

The third release by one of Southern California’s most loved Americana songbirds, expertly backed as always by some of the finest musicians who make up the Countrypolitans.

Elisabeth Ames has now put her name right out in front of the band, which should have been done a long-time ago. Elisabeth has always been the leader of the group, and the only real constant there, as the rest of the band tended to change about quite a bit. But always they are made up of some of the finest musicians, and this albums line-up is no exception, as it includes Chris Lawrence on electric guitar, Gary Brandin on pedal steel, Dale Daniel from the Hacienda Brothers on drums and semi-regular band member Roger Conley on bass.

This album has Elisabeth finally finding the exact sound that she has been after for a few years now, the music is a lot tighter and alluring and a report in The Oregonian likened her sound to the excellent Kathleen Edwards, stating that the tunes are more mature. This has also been helped by the fact that Elisabeth managed to secure the services of Lloyd Maines as co-producer alongside herself. He also chipped in with some acoustic and slide guitar on the engaging title track Anytime.

As I have stated, the sound on this album is so much tighter than before, which made Elisabeth’s job much easier as it meant she could concentrate more on her vocals than the rest of the sound, which probably is the reason that her vocals are so wonderfully pure and at ease. Plus the fact that she found that she was pregnant about a month before starting on the album, which meant that it took a little longer to actually complete, Elisabeth explained in her own words in an interview with The Oregonian ‘It really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did and I’m kind of embarrassed by that. But when you have a baby, it changes things. I did the vocals while I had morning sickness. I’d throw up and then go into the studio and sing...actually , I kind of liked the way it made my voice sound.’

Last Time is a great country song about leaving, with Ames’ emotionally wounded vocals working perfectly alongside the wonderfully atmospheric guitar solos from Chris Lawrence. The two-stepping Bound has some fantastic guitar and pedal steel over a perfectly constant background beat from drummer Dale.

Tremendously ethereal electric guitar solo coupled with acoustic guitar intro’s the splendid Lonely Receiver which has Elisabeth singing so effortlessly yet superbly. The pedal steel opens the bouncy tune Lucky In Your Tears which would actually make a great single.

My personal stand-out track though has to be the very modest ballad Blue Water, which is just exquisite in its pure simplicity, and Elisabeth’s vocals are heavenly. The last song on the album is called Country Music, which just about sums up this great cd! David Knowles
- Maverick Magazine - Sept. 2006


Friday, March 03, 2006
By SCOTT D. LEWIS
The Oregonian

THERE AND BACK AGAIN -- "I needed sun!" exclaims Elisabeth Ames when asked why she moved from Portland to Palm Springs some four years ago. "I didn't know what I was getting into when I moved here from Northern California."

Besides the rain and gloom, Ames found herself nicely nestled in the thick of Portland's rich alternative country scene with her band, the Countrypolitans. Earning critical accolades for its easy-burning mix of country, pop and rock topped with a healthy dose of twang, the Countrypolitans released a couple of albums, received airplay on both commercial and college stations and even embarked on three tours of Europe. It was while playing a festival in the Netherlands that they caught the attention of musician/producer Lloyd Maines.

"I started talking to him about five years ago," says Ames, a staff writer for The Oregonian for six years. "The first time we were supposed to work with him it didn't work out due to scheduling conflicts. He said he would work with us on our next CD and he went to work with the Dixie Chicks." (Maines is the father of the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines.) "I thought there was no way he was going to work with us after that. I very sheepishly e-mailed him when I was ready to start this CD and he wrote back saying he'd do it. He was a dream to work with -- he was really, really great."

The new album, "Anytime," not only finds the Countrypolitans switching out some of the boozy swagger with a prettier, more mature and graceful sound in line with the likes of Kathleen Edwards, but it also finds Ames' name pasted right up front.

"I think that when you call yourself one name, like the Countrypolitans, people have an expectation that it is always going to be the same band," Ames says. "With me moving and picking up new players, I didn't want people to pick up the CD and go, 'Oh, wait a minute, they are called the Countrypolitans but there are all these different people.' And basically, anyone who has been in the band knows that the Countrypolitans is just the name of my backing band. I've always really wanted to be in a band, but the fact is that I really am a solo artist."

Those new players are an impressive bunch. Guitarist Chris Lawrence has played with Mike Ness; pedal steel player Gary Brandin is best known as a member of the Blue Hawaiians; and drummer Dale Daniel is on loan from the Hacienda Brothers. Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans will play two shows at Duff's Garage in Portland this weekend.

Besides enormous talent, Ames' band needed patience when she discovered she was pregnant about a month before starting work on "Anytime."

"It really shouldn't have taken as long as it did and I'm kind of embarrassed by that," she says, "but when you have a baby, it changes things. I did the vocals while I had morning sickness. I'd throw up and then go into the studio and sing -- actually, I kind of liked the way it made my voice sound," she admits with a laugh.

Last December, Ames and her family relocated to Bend, a move she's happy with but realizes will further complicate her musical life.

"I'm really happy with the CD and I'd like people to hear it. Hopefully we will find ways to do that," she says.


Scott D. Lewis is a Portland freelance writer.
- The Oregonian Newspaper


By ROBERT KINSLER

One of Southern California's best-known Americana artists is relocating to Oregon, but not before playing a marathon-length farewell in San Juan Capistrano.

Elisabeth Ames & the Countrypolitans, whose members come from across Southern California, will perform tonight in celebration of the release of "Anytime." The release, produced by Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hot Club of Cowtown) and Ames at Mad Dog Studios in Burbank, will be available for the first time tonight; in addition, the performance will be videotaped for possible release on DVD or for a performance video.

Ames said she is moving from Riverside County to Bend because she believes it will be a better place to raise her daughter, 17-month-old Ava. But she plans to continue to play with the Countrypolitans in the Pacific Northwest and in Southern California, including at the Swallows Inn.

"When we come down, we will play Swallows," Ames said. "We've been playing at Swallows for the last four years and love it there."

Blending country, rock, pop and folk, Ames & the Countrypolitans have released several other CDs - most recently "Face of My Hometown" in 2002 - but Ames stressed that this lineup has performed countless shows over the past 31/2 years and has developed into something special.

"It's great to have a record of us with these guys," Ames said of the release of the new CD, and of the professional videotaping of tonight's performance. "These are some of the best honky-tonkers on the West Coast."

In addition to Ames' duties as lead singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist, the Countrypolitans features Newport Beach native Gary Brandin (Blue Hawaiians) on pedal steel, guitarist Chris Lawrence (featured on Mike Ness' "Cheating at Solitaire"), drummer Dale Daniel and bassist Rob King (the Western Continentals).

The ensemble's previous albums, 1999's "Tired of Drowning" and the aforementioned "Face of My Hometown," won the band airplay at commercial and college stations around the world, and led to a trio of European tours. It was while performing in the Netherlands that Ames met legendary producer and multi-instrumentalist Maines.

"We got lucky, going on as he was getting off. He stayed there and watched us," Ames recalled.

Initially, Ames hoped to see if Maines could produce "Face of My Hometown," but the timing and logistics of working together at that time proved impossible.

"When the time came to make this CD - it was after (the Dixie Chicks') 'Home' came out - I sent him an e-mail. He ended up coming out from Texas to L.A. to make it."

The collection's great sound, strong assembly of original songs and nuance-rich performances seem like the perfect gift for the holidays.

"The CD will come out" officially next year, Ames said. "We want our Orange County fans to hear it, and get it out to them before we leave."

Elisabeth Ames & the Countrypolitans' show is at 8:30 tonight. The Swallows Inn is at 31786 Camino Capistrano. For show information, go online at www.swallowsinn.com.

For more information on Elisabeth Ames & the Countrypolitans, visit www.countrypolitans.com.





- Orange County Register


June 15 -- The Countrypolitans, a country/pop band that has gained much attention in Europe and the US, will perform tonight at The Press.

The band was formed in 1998 and released its first album, "Tired of Drowning", a year later. They soon made it onto more than 100 Americana stations worldwide and onto the top 10 list on some college stations in this country.

Their newest album, "Face of My Hometown", features music written by the songwriting team of singer Elisabeth Ames and guitar player Roger Conley. The record takes the listener on a journey through youth, love, loss and friendship.

Having already toured Europe 3 times, this is their first tour in California.

"We have been to Belgium, Luxemburg, and have played in honkey tonks, bars and beer halls all over The Netherlands," Ms. Ames said.

The band also has a history in this country. "In one summer," Ms. Ames said, "We played for 3 of my heroes. Johhny Cash held his wine glass up to us while we played at his son's wedding, we opened for Willie Nelson, and we've played for Merle Haggard.

"We are different from other country/pop bands because we love country music and that's our background, not rock," Ms. Ames continued. "My boys live it and breathe it, and that makes our music unique."

Ms. Ames said that the band's intention is to make country/pop music without being trite and distasteful. "We don't really like what's on the radio, and we don't want to make music that is schlocky," she said.

Though The Countrypolitans have gained attention in Europe and the US, it has not come without sacrifice. Ms. Ames had to quit her day job as a news reporter for the Oregonion about a year ago to be able to tour.

"I quit because I knew I wasn't going to get this opportunity again. I have had no regrets and continue to do some freelance for the paper," she said.

Ms. Ames's visit to California will not be her last. In the fall she and her husband are moving to the Palm Desert area. "I had to come back," she said." I miss the sunshine."

--Cynthia Lujan
- Claremont Courier


Countrypolitans' singer-songwriter Elisabeth Ames comes by her storytelling gifts honestly.

"I used to write for The Associated Press in San Francisco," she relates matter-of-factly about her former life as a reporter, going on to discuss her move to the wire service's Seattle bureau before marriage took her to Portland, where she wrote for The Oregonian for a few years under the name Elisabeth Dunham.

"I also free-lanced for USA Today, and covered Tonya Harding for a while. I used to follow her to the skating rink, and (tried) to avoid her backing over me with her truck," she adds with a laugh. "It was pretty unseemly to do that for a living, but I got used to it."

These days, it appears that Ames has found her true calling. She co-founded the Countrypolitans with multi-instrumentalist Roger Conley, releasing a debut CD, "Tired of Drowning" (Ultrapolitan), in 1999 and quickly establishing a following. The group's reputation for a rocking, authentic country show plus Ames' development as a songwriter garnered critical raves and appearances at Austin's SXSW, Seattle's Bumbershoot, the Blue Highways festival in Holland, even a headline slot at London's infamous Borderline .

With the release of the sophomore full-length CD, "Face of My Hometown" (Sideburn), the Countrypolitans appear poised to break out to a broader audience. "It's a much richer-sounding recording than the debut," Ames says of the band's work with local producer Gregg Williams (Sheryl Crow, Dandy Warhols). And she's right -- there is a spacious depth to the disc's 11 songs that wasn't evident before, one that allows for the pedal steel flourishes of Peter Burak to sit comfortably alongside the 12-string Rickenbacker work of Justin DeFreece.

But perhaps the biggest leap forward is in the songwriting. "Face" is marked by a more personal strand of lyricism, setting Ames' Chrissy Hynde-like croon against the kind of gritty somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs that Nashville seems content to avoid in its pursuit of commercial riches.

The title track serves as an example of this new soul-baring confidence: "I wanted to save that one for myself," says Ames of the clearly personal cut, "but it just seemed to fit in with the rest of the songs on the record." Conley goes on to describe the record as one marked by him and Ames bringing "raw ideas" to the studio as opposed to finished songs. "We had no idea of where a song might take us," he says, "we just wanted to let it develop by itself."

For a group that describes its output as the result of "city kids playing country music" (Ames' hometown turns out to be a suburb of Rochester, N.Y., while Conley hails from suburban Los Angeles), there appears to be a kind of conflicted acceptance about being branded with the alt-country label.

"We're not really fans of alt-country -- it just sounds like rock 'n' roll with a few banjos or mandolins thrown in," Ames insists. "But we do have more of a country sound live, though; whenever we play for straight-up country audiences, it's like coming home again."
- The Oregonian


The Countrypolitans are serving notice there is great music re-emerging in Pacific Northwest and
oh, by the way, Countrypolitans are in the forefront of that movement.

Their new CD Face Of My Hometown provides the foursome space toflex some muscle. Elisabeth Ames is on point with her soul searing yet doe-eyed vocals (listen to the CD, you'll get it) with the able assistance ofRoger Conley; Bass, Peter Burak; Pedal Steel Guitar and Justin DeFreece; Electric and Acoustic Guitars.

Face Of My Hometown is easily the most comfortable CD that I listened to this year, that's a good thing.
Eleven original songswritten/co-written by Ames & Conley. Countrypolitans, Face Of My Hometown; a great CD from a great local (Northwest) label, Sideburn/Burnside.
- Alternative Country.com


Hearing the Countrypolitans vocalist Elisabeth Ames sing in her endearing voice such hurting lyrics as "My heart was broken/when he walked out that door/like this empty bottle/as it hits the cold hard floor" would leave the toughest of barflies crying in his beer.

The group's latest release, "Tired Of Drowning," is definitely a tearjerker, but it also has a wicked honky-tonk punch. With Ames singing, Roger Conley on bass, Marty Henninger on drums, and Geoff Clarkson and Peter Burak ripping it up on electric and pedal steel guitars, respectively, the Countrypolitans successfully blend '50s-style country with a '90s-pop sound.

"Tears'll Be Pouring," with Rosie Flores on backing vocals, romps with an Old West barroom boogie, and the slow country-blues number "That Train" smolders with the warm, genuine voice of Ames and some serious popping twang by Clarkson. The group, however, discards the honky-tonk reputation for a solid rock/pop sound on two songs: "Will You Welcome Me Home" and "Come Rolling In."

Due in part to the vision of producer Tim Ellis, "Tired of Drowning" is a cohesive album, as it moves seamlessly from song to song, yet the Countrypolitans definitely mix it up. With the strains of pedal steel guitar, "Instant Love" swings in a Southern fashion, and soulful guitar and mandolin solos - in addition to some great accordion work- gives "I Took The Blame" a tinge of Mexico.

A couple of real gems on the album include an appearance by Texan .Dale Watson, who lends his deep, Cash-like voice to a duet with Ames on "Basic Information," and the bonus track "Daybreak In Vegas," on which Clarkson and Burak go head-to-head, trading high-speed chops. Taking more from the styles of Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard than Clint Black or LeAnn Rimes, the Countrypolitans get back to the roots of country music, and they do it without being completely retro.
- Portland CitySearch.com


By Jay N. Miller

"FACE OF MY HOMETOWN,'' The Countrypolitans (Sideburn Records) Oregon wouldn't immediately spring to mind as a hotbed of country music. But The Countrypolitans achieve one of the most stunning blends of modern country and rock found anywhere. The major force in the quartet is vocalist Elisabeth Ames, whose smooth-as-ice vocals carry a tangible emotional wallop, yet also come with the superb tone and clarity of a Joan Baez. Ames and bassist Roger Conley write most of the band's music, and their finely detailed, gritty, cinematic imagery evokes the best of Steve Earle or Mary-Chapin Carpenter's lyrics. With Ames' incredible voice singing those potent words over a well-produced 1960's-like country rock tableau, the Countrypolitans are both hip in a contemporary sense, and respectful of tradition - in short, a band with enormous crossover pop potential. "I Can't Stop You'' is a bold and forceful song of empowerment, a rocking declaration that the wronged woman is walking out. The more ambiguous tone of "Falling at Your Feet'' is framed in an understated Latin beat, almost a reggae lilt. The languid, world-weary soul of Ames' vocal on the title cut, "Face of My Hometown,'' invests it with volumes of emotion. "Kind of Funny'' is an expertly woven tune of the dark and light of a relationship, with instantly memorable lyrics, and Peter Burak's pedal steel shimmering in and out of the arrangement like some Greek Chorus.

Another one of those problematical, good/bad relationships is at the root of "Designated Driver,'' as hard-edged a honky tonk rocker as you'd ever want. That recurring theme of female empowerment is also delivered with wit and passion on "I Wanna Score,'' a tune with undeniable rock'n'roll kick, but also a kind of vulnerable hitch in Ames' voice.

The concluding ballad "Faith'' is as cool as they come, with a vaguely calliope-like background dominating raw down-home sound, and perhaps Ames' most arresting Baez-like vocal.

Fans who miss The Mavericks might do well to acquaint themselves with this band, which also makes marvelous pop and rock out of traditional country elements, with a vocalist every bit as remarkable as the Mavs' Raul Malo.
- Patriot Ledger


As Elisabeth Ames' sultry, steely voice floats in bluesy intervals over the lyric of "Behind the Night" -- like silver clouds drifting across the moon -- you wonder where you've heard it before.

The answer is you haven't, unless the Countrypolitans played it at a recent gig, because Ames wrote the song. She and stand-up bassist Roger Conley plus guitarist Geoff Clarkson wrote or co-wrote the dozen songs on "Tired of Drowning," the band's first full-length CD, and they're all keepers, a rare enough feat for a first album. Better yet, several possess that happy facility of a really good pop song, which is to trigger references and allusions to all manner of other tunes.

In fact, the best pop tunes manufacture their own sort of dj vu; they're so good, so right, that in the microsecond required to travel your auditory nerve, they've already imprinted on your brain so that when you actually become aware of the song a fraction of a second later, you're wondering where you've heard it before. Mind you, we're talking about a very good pop song -- something such as "Paperback Writer" or the like.

But some of the songs on "Tired of Drowning" come close to possessing that instant recognizability. "Will You Welcome Me Home?" for one, whose majestic chords and tantalizingly familiar chorus snippet lead into a melody perfect in its poppish inevitability.

But what's this talk of poppish inevitability in a band that's supposed to be a bunch of neo-honky-tonkers? Well, Teles do twang on the new album and Peter Burak's pedal steel guitar wails and sighs like an abandoned lover. Echoes of Bakersfield, of Buck and Merle and Patsy Cline hover over "Tired of Drowning," but the album is refreshing in its originality as the band assimilates influences ranging from hard country to rock 'n' roll.

Clearly the Countrypolitans know where they're coming from on classic country weepers such as "Tears'll Be Pouring" (with Rosie Flores helping on vocals) and the steady-rollin' gear-jammers' anthem "Truck Drivin' Daddy." And when it came to honky-tonk, they went right to the source and persuaded Dale Watson to hop a plane from Austin, Texas, and lend his marvelous baritone to a relaxed shuffle called "Basic Information," on which he alternates verses with Ames. He also plays some fine twin guitar lines with Clarkson during the break.

But this band needs very little help. While Ames doesn't have what you'd call a classic country voice, she has one that works just fine in this context. She never affects a down-home twang, and her phrasing is distinctly uptown. Her pitch is good enough to allow her to experiment with the pitch center on songs such as "Lights of the Town," and the husky, languid quality of her voice carries almost all of these songs.

As for the band, just listen to the spirited interplay on Clarkson's instrumental called "Daybreak in Vegas" -- and the in-the-pocket grooves everywhere else -- and you'll hear all you need to know. It's a band in the best sense -- the players' contributions are models of economy and ensemble playing.

Plus it's a fine-sounding album; meticulously constructed and arranged but naturalistic. That's due in part to producer Tim Ellis, Ames says.

"He was great -- especially for understanding the sound we wanted and getting that out of the band and makingeverything cohesive yet distinct. On 'Will You Welcome Me Home,' Tim had Geoff play a '60s Sears Silvertone guitar through the tiny amplifier built into the guitar's case, which was miked using a Dictaphone microphone. Then they ran the track through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet and recorded that.

"Dave Friedlander mixed in a way that was sensitive to the roots side but gave us a pop sound as well. With vocals, he used a real '50s plate reverb on some of the vocals and did very '90s vocal mixes on some of the pop tunes."

- The Oregonian


Discography

The Countrypolitans - EP 1998 Self Release

Redneck Riot - Single 1998, Full Tank Compilation by Jackass Records

Tired of Drowning - LP 1999 Ultrapolitan Records & Me and My Records/Rounder Europe

Face of My Hometown - LP 2002 Side Burn Records -Rykodisc

Anytime - LP 2007 To Be Released

Roadhouse - Live LP 2007 To Be Released

Roadhouse - Live DVD 2007 To Be Released

Photos

Bio

The Oregonian newspaper dubbed the group "a band to be reckoned with" and raved that all 12 songs on the debut disc "are all keepers, a rare enough feat for a first album." Elisabeth Ames and the Countrypolitans recently completed a full-length CD with producer Lloyd Maines at Mad Dog Studios in Burbank.

Lead singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist Elisabeth Ames and collaborator/bass player Roger Conley began working together in Oregon before the band relocated to Southern California in 2002. Guitar player Chris Lawrence (Mike Ness “Cheatin’ at Solitaire” and Cisco’s “Wishing You Well from the Pink Motel”), pedal steel player Gary Brandin (Blue Hawaiians) and drummer Dale Daniel (the Hacienda Brothers) complete the lineup.

The band has just put the finishing touches on their upcoming release titled “Anytime” co-produced by Lloyd Maines (Richard Buckner, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dixie Chicks) and Elisabeth Ames. The CD features their own brand of modern Southern California honky tonk and Americana sounds. Set to be released sometime this fall the CD is only available at live shows.

"Face of My Hometown," produced by Gregg Williams, was released in 2002 on Sideburn Records with national distribution by Ryko. The band’s 1999 CD "Tired of Drowning" was released by Ultrapolitan Records in the United States and Holland-based Me and My Records in Europe. Distributed by Burnside Distribution and CRS/Rounder in Europe and Great Britain, the discs have been added to playlists on more than 100 radio stations around the world.

The Countrypolitans played to packed houses on three tours of Europe in 2000 and 2001. They have opened for Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and performed at the wedding of John Carter Cash and Laura Cash. Portland audiences voted them best-unsigned band in a poll by Portland CitySearch.com. "I Can't Behave," written by Ames, is part of the score for the well-received independent film "Tully.” And, her song “LA Turnaround” reached No. 9 on the European Most Popular Independent Chart in Europe and Great Britain.