El Olio Wolof
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El Olio Wolof

Band Folk Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Bands on the Rise"

Forecast: If we were crowning the most anticipated local album, it would go to El Olio Wolof.

Though it's a stretch to call them "local" to Fresno, this Merced band plays Fresno more than many Fresno bands do.

Playing what band members call "eclectic indie folk rock" (and that's only 'cause they had to label it something) this genre-bending band has caught on with indie-rock fans around the state, but it could go over just as well with older folk crowds.

Atmospheric and melodic, El Olio Wolof's music is just as interesting as its name.

Soon — by June, they hope — all that music will be collected on a CD that the band will be able to shop around while taking on a hefty touring schedule that will include Bay Area festivals in the spring and the East Coast in the summer.

- Mike Osegueda / The Fresno Bee

"Performing at Noise Pop - Saturday, April 1"

In this Merced quintet's own combination of Spanish, English, and Swahili, El Olio Wolof translates to "the shapeless messenger." The eccentric band mixes genres like its members mix languages. Tossing campfire folk, Spanish guitar, medieval two-step, and gypsy stomp together in weird yet memorable ways. Jazz-inflected drums alternately chill things out and add heat -- especially live, when the acoustic guitars crank up and the drummer breaks out a giant pizza pan/gong for the shout-along choruses. The Central Valley is starting to look a little more central. - KJERSTI EGERDAHL - Noise Pop

"Of Friends and Fairy Tales. Cuddling Up to El Olio Wolof"

Compared to their neighbors along the coast, Central California's cities don't see a whole ton of action. Merced is known as the gateway to somewhere else and Fresno is renowned for building the first modern landfill. Nestled in the belly of the San Joaquin Valley, this little agri-politan wonder has little reputation as a musical hotbed, but it's this exact creative dryness that gave birth to El Olio Wolof.

A linguistic combo of Spanish, English, and Swahili, El Olio Wolof stands for "the shapeless messenger," which is sort of the vibe the wonky quintet give with their brooding indie lo-fi. Originally a reading group, this clique of word nerds called themselves "J,K,L,M,N,Okapi" (the okapi is the only relative of the giraffe) and hung out at a Merced coffeehouse sharing poems and fiction. Naturally, they took up playing instruments. What makes this all so cozy is that the songs they wound up playing on their debut EP, El Subconscious Celestine Olio Wolof, are basically fairy tales.

Taking cues from Tom Waits's storage-shed tinkering, Miles Davis's meanderings, Shel Silverstein's gargantuan wit, and the Muppets' playfulness, El Olio Wolof make music that is as moody as it is childlike. Fronted by a bear of a man called Radioactive Cauliflower (his thin warble a tad Oldham-ish), El Olio Wolof sound like bohemians singing their kids to sleep following a late shift at the co-op. "The Tale of Herbert Giant" is a swinging number about a giant who will eat anything: skateboards, car tires, etc. On the fatalistic "The Very Humble Honey Bee," a group of bees comes to the realization that they all "work just to die" before staging a coup, ultimately slaying the queen they live to serve and climaxing in the chilling chorus "We won't work/just to die."

El Olio Wolof's fairy tales are minor-key affairs, but they're not all gloom 'n' doom. "Tree Shakers and Tree Climbers" is rollicking enough to sound like a gypsy caravan sing-along and every song, no matter how dark, is as welcoming as a campfire sing-along.
- Brian J. Barr of The Seattle Stranger


"el subconsious celestine olio wolof"
self release 2004

"Apathetic Apple"
2006 Noise Pop compilation

second ful length record
self released June 2007



From the Central Californian town of Merced comes El Olio Wolof, invoking majestic kingdoms where Shel Silverstein's brand of playful poetics meets the ebb and flow of dusky indie rock. Their acoustic based arrangements are spare: electric bass, jazz influenced drums, accordion, keyboards and bells, but the compositions created with these basic elements seem to breathe and take flight. The soothing voice of leader RC Essig is our bewitching tour guides, escorting and illuminating us through sweeping tales of terror and wonder.