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"Eymarel: It Takes Two"

It takes two.

It takes two to love, two to agree, two to conceive children....on and on, life is full of "two"s. Wonderous music can be made by innumerable amounts of musicians, but, in the case of Eymarel, it only takes two.

First, Mary Frances and Lee Allen loved. Then they agreed to share their music. Then, they began to conceive children, one brilliant song at the time. Like children, each song has its own distinct personality; one might be a bit more unruly and funky than another, while one might be more emotional yet laid back. Nevertheless, each child still has the undeniable traits of its parents and their individual and collective influences.

Eymarel's songs are an eccentric blend of old funk, new groove, hip beats, and pop melodies performed with dynamic old school musicianship coupled with the most modern technology and sampling to complete the newest, freshest, yet warmly familiar sound music lover's of any genre will immediately recognize as something we've been missing.

The sincerity of Eymarel's message of unity and positivity, if ever questioned, is immediately established when Mary Frances begins to sing. She pours her heart into each lyric, every note and melody. In songs like "Fly" her husky voice flows seamlessly from lower range verses at times verging on whispers to the emotionally charged upper register climax that leaves us chilled. In "2:17" we are soothed by her effected falsetto and simultaneously challenged by the message and contrasted upbeat rhythm. As with all Eymarel's songs, we are left stunned that Mary is doing all that at once; heartfelt, virtuoso singing while playing genuine bass lines and compelling rhythm and lead melodies on the keys. Lee Allen's drumming is a chameleon; changing from rock to hip-hop to jazz to folk to funk; sometimes all within one song. His sampling and programming are at times amusing, other times thought provoking, but, always dead-on to the mood and message of each song.

Their song "Stronger" is a thoroughly emotional, mesmerizing instrumental. "Screened In" challenges the listener's dependence on technology to find fulfillment as well their belief that there are only two in this band. "Into You" is an instant new/classic pop song written for today's music scene with an aged flavor. "What's Your Way" is that dark child with the sub-low hip sound that beckons for us to believe.

As for me, I believe in the power and music of two....Mary and Lee....Eymarel.

- Chris Currie

"Eymarel - A Needle in a Haystack"

April 06, 2006
Eymarel - A Needle in a Haystack

With nothing to do on a Tuesday night, and having not heard live music for almost a month (see the Langerado reviews on our home page - those were my last shows!), I did what every other music loving creature would do - go over to our friends at Jambase.com and see who's performing locally. What I found and what was to follow just proves what I've always said - you don't have to be big to be great. And if you don't give something a chance, and don't have an open mind, you'll be stuck in the mud, with tunnellvision, forever, and that's no way to approach music.

Eymarel is Mary Francis (vocals. organ, synthesiszer, bass) and Lee Allen (drums, samples, keys). That's right, just two musicians, with a whole lot of sound. They both have extensive musical backgrounds, with Mary learning under the classical training of Frances Eggleston Scott Carter and then under Dr. Bair Shagdaro while attending college in North Carolina. Lee got into the drums while I was still learning to walk, at the age of 5, as his dad directed a marching band. He continued his musical education at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and then under Dr. Rob Falvo, also in North Carolina. But all the education in the world doesn't mean you can make beautiful music, does it? Eymarel put that hypothetical to rest with the first chords of their show.

Smooth, funky, soulful.... did I say smooth? They find a groove and stick with it, build on it, I should say. A little James Brown thrown in with a little Billie Holiday, as Mary's voice moves from hypnotic to overwhelmingly powerful at any given moment. They can do hard core Zeppelin and still make the music soulful, blusey, adding grooves that never existed in previous renditions. They play as one, but at any given time, if you close your eyes, you think there must be at least 5 people on stage - drums, piano, synthesizer, bass, vocals, and some really great sampling, which can be a detriment if it's not done right - amazing! Oh, and when they rock, they rock hard, as the first track below, Screened In, will attest to. Into You, the next track listed, has it all.

Eymarel is one of those bands we need to to not only keep an eye on, but help spread the word. They play extensively throughout the southeast and are currenty on tour. By word of mouth, and going to their shows with an open mind, they will eventually get what they deserve - recognition. How lucky I was to exprerience such fine musicians just because I had nothing better to do on a Tuesday night.
- Scotty Greene@The 101 Report.com

"Groove Therapy: Eymarel’s funk is irresistable and uncoventional"

Music writers generally have the convenience of referencing genres to categorize a band’s sound or mentality. For instance, Chuck Berry rocks ’n’ rolls, the Buzzcocks deliver punk candy, and James Brown is the undisputed Godfather of Soul. Still, occasionally an act comes along that makes such catchy descriptions a little difficult.

Local act Eymarel (pronounced Eye-ma-rel) is one of these refreshing groups that are a tad tougher to pin down, but far more exciting to hear. Effortlessly nodding to jazz, funk, rock, hip-hop, jam and others in a single seam, Eymarel is one of the most universally appealing live bands, whether they’re here in their hometown or playing out-of-town gigs. On Saturday, November 18, they’ll be delighting their established fan base at home, filling Hell’s Kitchen with sounds just as unidentifiable as their name.

Such an eclectic draw of influences must mean Eymarel has a large crew, right? Well, that’s another twist with this band: just two members, Mary Frances (keys and vocals) and Lee Allen (drums and electronics), comprise their sum.

I caught up with the Eymarel (EY) duo to discuss their back-story, concept and touring. They’re just as well-spoken as their smooth music suggests.

e: How did the two of you get together and form Eymarel?

EY: We began our relationship while studying Music Therapy at Appalachian State University. There was definitely talk of playing music together from the start, but there was also a lot of fear. I think creating music with your partner requires a level of comfort, security, and trust that is built with time. Once we built the bridge, the music seemed to cross naturally. We started the music project as a quartet, which became a trio and eventually progressed into the duo lineup. We moved from Boone to the coast of NC, near Wilmington, for Mary to undergo her Music Therapy internship, and that’s when Eymarel officially began to take off.

e: Every band has a name, but yours is unusual. Expain its origin.

EY: Eymeral is actually made up of the letters of our names. We feel it represents exactly who we are and the music we create, without classifying us into a certain genre or category. We’re influenced by everything in life—[and that] shapes who we are, which is the music we create; an extension of ourselves. How can that fit into a box like “category” or “genre”? Eymarel has no box; it has no boundaries, which is ideally how we want to live as people.

e: It seems you are always performing. You have a tour coming up in March. Where are you going, and are you most looking forward to one date?

EY: We’re always excited to be on the road. We love it. It feels so natural, and we’ve met so many great people. We cover the whole East Coast, from Burlington, VT, down to Miami, FL ,and over to Austin, TX. We’re planning a West Coast tour next summer, and I’m mostly looking forward to the places we haven’t been before. There’s an exciting energy about going to a brand new city, to a new venue and meeting new people.

e: What are some highlighted moments from Eymarel’s past?

EY: Our most exciting moment to date is celebrating our first year as full-time touring musicians. One of our favorite shows was playing with “The Jazz Mandolin Project” at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. We have also recently been invited to join Leeway’s Home Grown Music Network, which is a network of independent bands, representatives, venues, stores, fans and people working together to improve our world through great music...I think Wilmington needs constant support from the artistic community. [It’s] one of our favorite cities on the East Coast, and it has the potential to emerge as one of the premier music cities in the region. There are some incredible venues here that provide a great atmosphere for the artists and the listeners alike that may be taken for granted. We’ve been all across the country, visited many different kinds of “scenes” and experienced progressive places with a strong sense of community. It’s really refreshing to experience these communities from an outsider’s viewpoint. These are the places we find strength and purpose; [we] have a voice that helps shape an area into something beautiful. We feel Wilmington can become one of these areas with continued support and attendance at shows.

e: As a musician myself, I know being in a serious band is tough. How do you balance out your personal lives against the band business, and how much of it overlaps?

EY: Our whole life is our band. We don’t really feel a separation between personal or business lives. Our business is personal. I don’t think there’s been a day in the past two years we haven’t done something or thought about something we can do to improve the band. Yeah, there are days we take off, but generally, those are the days we actually have more business to take care of than days we’re on. Honestly, being on tour, playing shows is like a vacation to us.

e: Tell us about your CD, Groovin’ a Little Each Day.

EY: [It’s] our first studio release. We recorded in Laurinburg, NC, at Sound on Sound Studios. It’s a great studio owned and operated by veteran engineer/producer, and great friend, Greg Miller. We recorded in 2005 and released the project over the summer. We’re currently planning our follow up CD, to be released in late 2007.

e: Who are some of your influences we might hear poking out of your recording?

EY: Music runs deep in both of our families, and we’ve been playing music nineteen and twenty years. There has been a natural progression of musical influences that have been constantly changing with every chapter of our lives. At any given moment you may hear old soul, classical, jazz, rock, funk, bluegrass, heavy metal, electronic, world, anything across the board we might be feeling at that time. That’s how open we want Eymarel and our listeners to be.

Check out Eymarel at www.eymarel.com.

- The Encore in Wilmington NC Article by Ben Brown

"Gotta love the 'twofer'"

Gotta love the 'twofer'


It's hard to find something sweet to eat if you work in a chocolate shop.

Such is the "problem" with being a live music fan in a city like Gainesville. In trying to find something interesting to talk about this week, I found myself faced with a long list of quality shows. Trouble is, they've either already been discussed or simply don't need any help from me to gather a crowd.

Just to be fair, I decided to take a look at the one band I'd never heard of before, Eymarel. It's the only band on Side Bar's bill tonight, so there has to be a reason.

Actually, there are two reasons: Mary Frances and Lee Allen.

This duo isn't really a duo at all. They're an entire ensemble that's been very tightly crammed into a pair of regular-sized human suits.

No matter what generalized label you want to affix to their sound, some aspect will be left out. One song to the next - sometimes one minute to the next - the range of composition wavers from fairly-authentic '60s psychedelic jamming to melodic electronic funk to ambient jazz piano.

What lends real quality to Eymarel is the fact that the presentation of multiple styles doesn't undercut the band's consistency. Providing much of that steadiness are the vocals of Mary Frances.

Mary, in addition to playing the bass and keyboards in the band, possesses a voice that far exceeds her own physical size. The depth and soulfulness of it is the type that can clearly be distinguished from anything else you'll hear outside of an old-school blues club. Doesn't hurt that she's a classically-trained pianist as well.

Drummer Lee Allen has done his share in the musical education department via the Berklee music school. And, just like his counterpart, his contribution isn't limited to just one instrument.

Attached to his drums are a set of electronic pads, splitting his duty between keeping the beat and inserting those programmed effects throughout the set.

In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When you combine two professionally trained musicians on a stage, you're bound to get good results.

If you can find two like these, who share similar vision, taste and diversity of ability, you'll get great results.

But you also have to get them the right tools for the job.

Eymarel might only have two members - and an occasional guitar player at live shows - but they're outfitted for many more. I can't honestly say I've seen the vehicle they tour in, but I can guess it isn't a compact.

This band makes no mistakes about the difficulty of making a full sound with only two people, and brings along enough specialized gear for six.

Beware, sound man. It's not going to be as easy a night as you'd hoped.

As I said before, I know there are plenty of shows to see this weekend.

But for those who want to try a little something different for the night and experience something that Gainesville rarely beholds, that Highlander guy was right: there can be only one.
- The Gainesville Sun

"VISITING ACT | Funky For Real - NC fusion duo Eymarel find their way"

Eymarel: drummer Lee Allen and keyboardist Mary Frances conjure more than enough sound to fill a room and move a crowd

For N.C. funk/fusion act Eymarel, their unique delivery of groove-heavy music is as unusual as their band name.

"We were thinking of putting a phonetic name that came from what we were doing and who we were," explains drummer Lee Allen, speaking last week from the band van in Knoxville, Tenn. "We didn't want a name that categorized us from the start and we didn't want to be limited by any genre. We jotted our names down, mixed them up and came up with the anagram 'Eymarel.' It's pronounced 'emma-rehl.' We want to demonstrate that we are two people acting as one unit."

Eymarel is comprised of only two players. Mary Frances, 25, handles the lead vocals and plays a teetering variety of keyboards (synths, organs, electric pianos, etc.). Allen, 25, plays a conventional drum kit along with electronic pads, samplers, and additional keyboards.

"People freak out when we show up for the first time," laughs Allen. "They have preconceived notions about us — like, 'Yeah, man they're just a duo.' Sound engineers think they're in for an easy night, but when we load in, they're like, 'Damn, you guys have more gear than a six-piece band!' Our philosophy on that is, in order for us to make it sound like a six-piece band and make it happen as two people, we need to stack the gear up. This is our life right now; we're not afraid of the big load-in or load-out."

Allen contributes ideas on rhythmic patterns, song arrangements, and lyrics, while Frances writes most of the song lyrics, melodies, and chord structures.

"We are together so much, all day, every day, that the collaboration comes naturally," says Allen. "Now, the songs shape us as much as we shape the songs."

The duo met in 2003 while studying for music therapy degrees at Appalachian State Univ. in Boone, N.C. They started dating, became a tight couple, and very gradually started playing together as a duo. After shaping a few compositions and writing a few tunes, they relocated to Wilmington in 2005 and put serious effort into booking regional tours, networking, and recording demos. The word spread quickly and the reactions were wildly positive from audiences of all types.

In the last year, they've shared the stage with such jam circuit bands as Jazz Mandolin Project, Shanti Groove, The Jerry Garcia Band, Mood Cultivation Project, Entropy, and Bellyfull. They've already played in Charleston numerous times, hitting the stages at Johnson's Pub, The Kickin' Chicken, and the Pour House, among other hotspots. Local fans praise the band for their skills, audacity, and off-kilter funk sound.

"We started at ground zero," says Allen. "We were into the same things, but they were so across the board that it was kind of tough focusing on a specific band sound. We knew that the things we were going to write and perform were things in which people could find meaning ... and things with a heavy groove. We enjoy the groove in music more than anything. It evolved into what it is today."

Recent demos (available on the band's website) demonstrate their fluid playing styles and high-tech chops. Allen's delicate brushwork on the slow-rolling instrumental "Stronger" and complexly syncopated footwork on "Fly" complements Frances' organ lines. In contrast, the funky workout on the peppery and soulful "Into You" eases down into a clickety groove. "Screened In" kicks off with a tricky riff (a mix of 7s and 8s, or something close), resembling the wilder sides of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jan Hammer, and Greg Allman.

Most noticeably, the duo somehow creates a full-band sound. It's amazing that Frances can hold down the groove-heavy bass lines with her left hand, jam on the chord progressions and solo on the organ with her right hand — and sing and enunciate with such a powerful voice simultaneously.

Eymarel recently recorded a six-song album titled Groovin' a Little Each Day with engineer Greg Miller at Sound on Sound studio in Laurinburg, N.C. (Allen's home town). The disc will be independently released in late July. Plans are already in the works for a follow-up live album.

"We describe it as an eclectic blend of soul, acid jazz, rock, and funk," says Allen. "Some people think there's a heavy electronic vibe, too. But we came from listening to tons of classic funk and soul records, so that's the foundation." - T. Ballard Lesemann/Charleston City Paper


Eymarel "Groovin' A Little Each Day" (2006)-produced by Eymarel and Greg Miller



The duo EYMAREL (pronounced emma-rehl), is a refreshing blend of head-bobbin grooves, smooth organ-ic improv, and sultry pop melodies. Eymarel combines the talents of Mary Frances, (vocals, keys, and bass), and Lee Allen, (drums and electronics). Once the two discovered each other's passion for both creating and playing music, they quickly decided to combine their journeys to spread their unique sound and positive energy. Eymarel hit the scene hard, cataloging 167 live performances in 2006 promoting their first studio release "Groovin' A Little Each Day." Eymarel has also had the added pleasure of recently becoming part of the Homegrown Music Network family (www.homegrownmusic.net) as well as sharing the stages with some great acts along the way such as, Jazz Mandolin Project, The Jerry Garcia Band feat. Melvin Seals, DJ Le Spam and The Spam Allstars, The Adam Deitch Project, Dubconscious, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, Bellyful, Shanti Groove, Mandorico, and Existor to name a few. Eymarel's live performances explode with an electric connection resulting in a captivating musical experience and on-stage aura, enticing both the eyes and ears of their listeners all across the country!

Mary Frances's musical journey began on the piano under the classical training of Frances Scott Carter as well as the teachings of her fathers rock-n-roll-soul outfit. She continued her education during college at Appalachian State University with piano professor Dr. Bair Shagdaron. Her years of classical training have set the stage for the transposition into the world of playing both bass and keys simultaneously. Mary Frances also adds an additional dynamic twist to the music with her smooth, enchanting voice. Mary's passionate vocals create a perfect compliment to her soulful key and bass groove.

Drummer Lee Allen was first drawn to the skins at the age of five by the influences of his fathers marching band drum-line and old soul records. His passion for beats led him to the teachings of Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA. He continued his education in the mountains of North Carolina under the direction of Dr. Rob Falvo at Appalachian State University. Also influenced by the progressive path of music technology, Allen continues to expand his sonic palette through the creative use of modern electronics.

Mary Frances and Lee Allen have combined their talents to create a soulful-groovin, hop-pop, organ trio sound from two. Their music will get your heads bobbin, toes tappin, and your souls singing along. We would like to welcome you to the unique, infectious sound of EYMAREL.