Gavin Elder
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Gavin Elder

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The best kept secret in music


"Rock and/or Roll"

This tour de force CD by local music innovator Gavin Elder is a gem of the most brilliant hue. Gavin is a living breathing performance artist and his clarity and genius shine in this eclectic collection of tunes. Influences range from the Beatles to Elvis Costello to Frank Zappa to old fashioned ragtime. Did ya get all that? Can ya cram all that into your little brain?? Well, sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride...

It is said that most people never have a peak experience in their lives because they are too busy living in the past of waiting for a future event. Remember what John Lennon said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making plans"? Gavin Elder knows peak experiences. He is consistently present and this CD reflects a clear and present artistic vision of the here and now.

This lovely nine tune montage was recorded in Music City in the fall of 2004. Gavin took up his backpack and headed off to record his nine little offspring with producer Ken Coomer and engineer Charlie Brocco. (You may be aware that Ken worked with Wilco, Uncle Tupelo.) While the CD was recorded in only 11 days, the three artists had enormous fun and frolic playing with guitars and keyboards. Gavin took charge of all instrumentation excepting for drums by Ken, and horns and clarinet by Sonic Fedora and Jime Hoke respectively.

As I mentioned, this CD incorporates an incredible number of musical genres as well as infusing each with a fresh modern approach. One of my personal favorites is "Holes", an Elvis Costello-ish piece with a syncopated rhythm and a smooth feel. The real treat of this tune is the intelligent and provocative lyrics with a nice little pun/twist on the hole/whole. The lyrics "...these are parts of a whole / these are windows captured on rolls / of celluloid / it's not so easy, boy / to be full of holes..." create a haunting surrealistic landscapea Dali painting come to life. Just as quickly, the audio landscape slips and strips away...easily just a fading memory.

Several tunes later, it is the Roaring 20's, flappers are dancing in a sleazy sexual frenzy to "The War of Alice Ann." The beat of this little ragtime ditty, complete with clarinet and swing beat, belies the gritty and dark lyrics: "'s the story of Alice Ann / and how she met her grisly end / ashes and dust have taken up residency..." Alice, her hands nicotine-stained and grimy, gyrates to her decadent inner death.

The backdrop rises and fallsnext up, the marijuana-infused Pink Floyd-ish "Dr. Gerald E. Bunker." Acid dropping ghosts in the machine appear in this freakish scenario which is just on the other side of sanity. Madness abounds in this tale of the dark side. "Last night in Calais I met the doctor / with powdered bulbs / for healing wounds / must have been a strong concoction / what once were legs replaced by snakes..." Down the hole, Alice.

Gavin's eclectic schedule includes up-coming Nashville and New Orleans gigs. He also plays in about 50 bands so be sure to place yourself in Gavin's atmosphere and get your brain twisted. See ya there!

-Kat Dickenson - Music Monthly


Rock and/or Roll - unreleased as of 11/05


Feeling a bit camera shy


In October 2004, Gavin Elder went to Nashville with nine songs. With the help of drummer/ producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) and engineer/producer Charlie Brocco, the nine songs were completed in 11 days. During recording at the Hum Depot in Nashville, the three collaborators furiously switched between various brilliant- and horrible-sounding guitars and keyboards to create the perfect soundscape for each tune. All of this madness resulted in Rock and/or Roll, featuring Gavin playing all of the instruments, except for the drums (Ken Coomer), brass section (Sonic Fedora), and clarinet (Jim Hoke).

The record is both thematically and instrumentally varied. The first song, “Hum,” opens with the hypnotic pulse of several syncopated synthesizers, generating a steady groove, followed by the alluring first line “She’s got a circuit in her blood that makes her body hum.” The pounding insistence of “Hum” downshifts into the spare “Holes,” a home movie that’s missing a few frames. Continuing on, the evolutionary pop of “Subject 99” switches to the waking crescendo of “Slow Boat”; the frantic ragtime of “The War of Alice Ann” is replaced by the opiated dynamics of “Dr. Gerald E. Bunker,” which recedes into the psychedelic carousel of “Grean Devil.” The penultimate song, “My Big Head,” thinks its way into the final song, “Next Time Around.” The record ends with the speaker hoping to devolve into a jellyfish, a razor blade, and, finally, a rabbit.