Behind the Beat: Room Service

Mother Elk

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Culled from a list that reportedly included hundreds of possible names, the moniker of the new Northampton band Mother Elk is more than just a tribute to a maternal mammal.

Said to represent “fertility, pacing and growth,” the name is also fitting for a group whose members have merged a variety of styles into a unique combination.

Featuring Luke Averill (vocals, upright bass, cello, acoustic guitar), Gage Lyons (vocals, acoustic guitar, upright bass), Jesse French (vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar, banjo), Emma Binder (viola, backing vocals) and Calvin Dimitri Parent (electric guitar, backing vocals), Mother Elk started getting together in January, when Averill and Lyons began singing harmonies together and sharing songs in their spare time.

French, who also plays in the Amherst quartet Young Tricksters, joined the duo in April. Binder entered the fold over the summer, adding her background in classical music to the mix. While Parent has only been a member of Mother Elk for about a month, his experience playing the Delta blues keeps the band’s style hard to pin down.

Now a full-blown five-piece with only a handful of shows under its belt, the band has become an exciting new voice on the Valley music scene.

“Mother Elk has only found its sound recently and is still developing, recently experimenting with drums and amplification but settling on almost entirely acoustic instrumentation,” the group says. “It could be described as an amalgamation of folk, classical, and jazz [used] to create dense, lyrical driven soundscapes designed to captivate and inspire the listeners.”

And while the group hasn’t had the opportunity to perform for many audiences, it’s quick to point out that each concert it plays is a new experience.

The band says, “There is nothing typical about a Mother Elk show because we’ve only played four shows. Audiences can expect new things at each show, and not expect routines.”

Speaking of breaking free from routines, the group’s plan for an upcoming tour displays a clear aptitude for outside-the-box thinking. Instead of performing in clubs and bars, Mother Elk hopes to bring the power of its music a bit closer to home.

“Our current project is to do a living room tour of the Pioneer Valley, which is to say, we’re going to play exclusively a line of nearly acoustic house shows,” the band says. “Performing for friends, strangers and acquaintances in the comfort of another’s home is a very intimate experience and is to us the primary avenue for honing our performance and perfecting the sound.”•


For more information on Mother Elk, please visit




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