EL VY

EL VY (10:15 PM)

Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra (9:00 PM)

Sat, November 7, 2015

8:00 pm

$25.00

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EL VY - (Set time: 10:15 PM)
EL VY
For years, Matt Berninger kept a secret folder on his laptop called “The Moon.”

"When I got off stage with the National, or found myself alone in a hotel room somewhere, I'd open it up, along with the minibar, and get to work."

The files in that folder were bits of music from Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls. Berninger and Knopf struck up a friendship nearly a decade ago, when the National and Menomena joined together for a west coast tour of small, half-empty clubs. It would be years before the New York indie rockers were playing on television and packing arenas, earning Grammy nominations and topping critics' lists, but the two felt an immediate musical kinship. It's a testament to their chemistry that Berninger and Knopf continued to feed that folder over the years with ideas.

“We kept throwing little seeds of future songs in there.” explains Berninger “It wasn’t until November of last year that we really dug in to make it a record.”

It's only fitting, then, that their debut album as EL VY (pronounced like ‘hell pie’ or a plural of Elvis) is called Return to the Moon.

Return to the Moon sounds exactly like you'd hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger's darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody offset by Knopf's playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager's sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.

"This record is more autobiographical than anything else I've written," says Berninger, "but the details aren't true. It's written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people—myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about."

Despite the fact that Berninger and Knopf might have been on opposite sides of the world, it was over these last few years on the road that Return to the Moon really took shape. "I would send Matt some sort of demo or a rough sketch of a chord structure or a beat," Knopf explains. "I never worried about sending him something unfinished. He's able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become the core of the track and develop them into something amazing."

Berninger loaded the files onto his laptop and recorded himself singing melodies whenever and wherever he could (on one song, you can hear a hotel employee enter the room). As lyrics bubbled up from his subconscious, subliminal connections between his past and present emerged, and he began to play with the idea that the songs' stories would overlap. The album traces a relationship between two characters, Didi and Michael. Berninger acknowledges that the characters are named after Minutemen's D. Boon and Mike Watt, and that their band and friendship was an inspiration, but says it’s not specifically about them. He thinks of the Didi and Michael of Return to the Moon as semi-fictional characters in “a punk rock Grease set in Cincinnati in the 1980’s.”

Right from the opening minutes of the album's title track, the tone is more playful than anything we've heard from these two before. They turn up the sordid humor on the alternately hilarious and pathetic “I'm the Man to Be,” in which Berninger sings from the perspective of a drugged-up lonely rocker in a Singapore hotel room, with lyrics soaked in hip hop braggadocio.

On tracks like “Need a Friend” and “Paul Is Alive,” Berninger conjures his Midwestern adolescence. "I think ‘Paul Is Alive’ is about finally finding the water that you can breathe in, finding a place or a person that makes you feel like you," he explains. "It's very much my story of what Cincinnati was like, growing up and falling in love with music, discovering these little places where like-minded people could find each other."

Meanwhile, it was the tight-knit Portland musical community that led to one of the album's happiest coincidences, when singer Moorea Masa moved in to a studio just across the hall from Knopf's. Knopf invited her to sing back up on the album, and she brought along a few friends, including the beloved soul singer Ural Thomas.

"One of the most exciting things for me on this record was working with Ural," says Knopf. “He's seventy-four and kind of a legend. He's the closest thing to a Taoist master I've ever met." Thomas lends his rich voice to “Sleepin' Light,” a sleazy, sexy come-on in the vein of Leonard Cohen’s ladies’ man phase.

The relationships on Return to the Moon are complicated, and tracks like “Silent Ivy Hotel” blur the lines between friendship and romance. “Sad Case” and “It's a Game” deal with the ache of loss, while “No Time to Crank the Sun” is about finding love by making an effort. In album closer “Careless,” the narrator tries desperately to hold on to someone who already has one foot out the door. "It's maybe the most unapologetically romantic song on the album," Berninger explains. "I embraced the melodrama of it."

The making of Return to the Moon, Berninger and Knopf are both quick to emphasize, was itself without any melodrama. It's the product of a long friendship between two restless songwriters working in secret without any pressure or expectations. Crafting the record was certainly hard work, especially considering everything else the duo had on their respective plates, but its making was an escape from the anxieties of being on tour, and, as Berninger puts it, “a lot of guilty pleasures without any guilt.”
Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra
Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra has been a band since 2005, playing around New York (Joe’s Pub, Barbes, Rockwood, Celebrate Brooklyn) and beyond (MASS MoCA, Camden Opera House, Grand Performances). The band includes Ethan Lipton (vocals), Eben Levy (guitar), Ian M. Riggs (standup bass) and Vito Dieterle (sax). Ethan writes the lyrics and melody, and the quartet arranges the songs together.

EL&hO has released five albums (three studio, two live) and been named the city’s “Best Lounge Act” by New York Magazine. In 2012, the band won an Obie Award for “No Place to Go,” a theatrical song cycle written by Ethan about a man who loses his job, which was produced by the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub. The show earned rave reviews and has since been produced theatrically at Two River Theatre in New Jersey, and in concert venues in LA, Connecticut, Virginia, Vermont, and at the ATP music fest in East Sussex, UK. In 2013-14, “No Place to Go” will be performed in over a dozen venues around the US and theatrically at the Gate in London.

The band has been featured on radio shows such as “Weekend Edition,” “The World,” “Word of Mouth,” and “Soundcheck,” and contributed to the Clash cover album “Sandinista.” They also play songs on and appears in the film “The Shift.” Currently, EL&hO is working on material for a sixth album, due out in 2014.

ethan

As a playwright, Ethan Lipton’s work has been seen and heard in NYC, LA, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Edinburgh, and Berne. He is the 2012-13 Playwright’s Realm’s Page One resident playwright, an alumni of the Public Theater’s emerging writers group and a Clubbed Thumb affiliated artist. Ethan has received playwriting grants from NYFA, NYSCA and the NEA, as well as commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb and True Love. He has received an Obie Award and a Drama-Logue Award, been a Kesselring nominee, an O’Neill Conference finalist, a Kleban Award finalist and a resident playwright at New York Stage & Film. His play “Luther” was published in THEATER magazine in April 2013. The script of “No Place to Go” will be published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2014.



As a performer, Ethan has backed up Laurie Anderson on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” originated the role of Klipspringer in the Elevator Repair Service production on “Gatz”, and sung with Matt Berninger of the National and Cynthia Hopkins.

eben

Eben Levy was co-leader of the 90s cult-favorite funk band Chucklehead and was the group’s guitarist, emcee and a principal songwriter. Years and years of Chucklehead live shows are online.

Eben later led the organic/electronic funk band Ejectrode, putting out Accident Theory in ’02.

Eben writes music for film and television. More at www.shackedupsound.com.

Eben grew up in sunny New York City and just moved to frickin’ Jersey with his wife, children and dog. Go frickin’ Jersey!

ianIan Riggs is a bassist, composer, singer and guitarist who performs and records in and out of New York City with a wide range of artists. Among them are Howard Fishman, One Ring Zero, Blarvuster, Hilary Hawke, Likeness to Lily, The Lonesome Trio, Giancarlo Vulcano, and David Eggar.

As a composer he has provided music for Adrian Muys’ films, “Iris” and “Hands of Harvest” as well as for Gabriella Barnstone’s dance/theatre piece, “The Dinner Party.” In 2009 he was accepted as an artist-in-residence at The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

vitoVito Dieterle started playing live around Chicago at the age of 14. He has been a featured soloist at the Burlington and Chicago Jazz Festivals, and in venues around the country.

In New York, he is a frequent player with composer-pianist Joel Forrester’s band People Like Us, and he leads his own trio every Sunday at Little Branch.

Vito studied at the New School with jazz greats such as Arnie Lawrence, Barry Harris, Benny Powell, Lee Konitz, Reggie Workman, Junior Mance and Chico Hamilton.

He’s a maniac for leftovers.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change