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Devaney & Friends w. Eli Gardiner, Sarah Morris
Thursday November 16 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Eli Gardiner is a songwriter from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, currently located in Minneapolis Minnesota. Coming of the 2020 release of his album, The Fire and The Medicine, he formed his full band comprised of drummer Greg Schutte (Mickey Hart, Ryan Bingham) lap steel/electric guitarist Dan Schwartz, keyboardist Kevin Gamble and bassist Nick Salisbury (Ryan Bingham, Brian Fallon).
The live album, LIVE IN MINNEAPOLIS was recorded on a cold night in February at The Aster Cafe by Alchemy Audio. A few of the songs are live versions from the latest album, “Boat at Sea”, “Mountain”, “Villain”and “The Right And The Wrong”. This album also has a handful of new songs that have never been released. The groovy “Bad Weed”, “I’m like a bad weed, I’m growing all the time” a song about being stubborn and growing through bad circumstances,“Flatlands” written while Eli was living in an old farmhouse in Iowa, paints a picture of midwest poverty and tornadoes. And “Saints Among Us” the most recently written song, “how do you see the world when it turns to dust…Saints among us” lays out an optimistic view in the face of a crumbling world.
Eli grew up in musical household. His mom played flute and piano and his dad classical guitar. Music was always on, James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Bonnie Raitt would be playing as dinner was made and the dishes were washed. From a young age he pursued his first passion though, hockey, not starting to write songs until he was out of high school. “I remember sitting in my room trying to learn chords on my dad’s old nylon string guitar, he had a song book and I think the first song I learned was House of The Rising Sun.” Shortly after, he recorded the first songs he wrote on a 4 track Tascam tape recorder. “I still have some of those old notebooks I wrote those old songs in” Eli states. Moving to Minneapolis was a turning point for his music career. He started going to open mics and songwriter nights as much as he could and started to regularly attend The Songwriter Showcase that was run by fellow songwriter Nick Hensley. There he met guitarist Dan Schwartz and bassist Nick Salisbury who introduced him to drummer and producer, Greg Schutte. The fruition of meeting these talented musicians was his first full band album that was released in 2020, The Fire and the Medicine. “I remember going into the studio to do one last session for the album, it was the banjo part on Fictional Women. We were sanitizing door knobs and staying 6 feet apart, and then the next day everything shut down, it was crazy, “ Eli remembers. “I think the mixing process really helped me with the first part of the Covid lockdown. I would go on walks every day and listen to mixes and compare them to other music I was listening to, it really was a good thing to focus on.” From that album process Eli started to regularly play shows with his full band comprised of the musicians who were on that album, Dan Schwartz on lap steel and electric guitar, Greg Schutte on drums, Nick Salisbury on bass. As of recently keyboardist Kevin Gamble has joined on shows as well.
Eli’s music is always changing, morphing to the mood and groove. It can be described as Americana or Rock, but the themes are deeply rooted in our lives in present day, what it means to be a human and to be sympathetic to other people. Its also about our connection, how we are all the same and crave that understanding that music can bring at its most transcendental times.
Sarah Morris has a habit of missing the forest. From the day the Minneapolis based singer-songwriter picked up a guitar, armed with the bone-deep memory of her parents’ well-loved record collection and rooted in the storytelling fire of a Mary Chapin Carpenter tune, she’s been too busy crafting love letters to the details of the trees. Sarah’s endearingly honest, expertly penned songs encourage audiences to pull away from the big picture and get caught up in the magic of our everyday minutia, the rainy day ache in her sunlit voice granting us permission to escape into stories at once hauntingly familiar and uniquely her own.
A graduate of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, Sarah spent the first years of her career in Nashville, losing herself in the art of writing timeless Americana melodies. “Sarah Morris [is] a bright, clear, brilliant songwriter,” wrote Jon Hunt of L’Etoile Magazine. “…pure and crisp and perfect.” In the eight years since her 2011 debut album, Lonely or Free, Sarah’s career, like her songs, has been overflowing with delicious details. Her albums Ordinary Things (2015), Hearts in Need of Repair (2017), and All Mine (2020) recorded with band mates Thomas Nordlund, Andrew Foreman, and Lars-Erik Larson with producer Eric Blomquist, earned international airplay and considerable critical acclaim, reaching notable positions on both the Americana Music Association and Euro Americana charts. In 2016, Sarah was a top four finalist in the NewSong Music Contest at Lincoln Center in New York City, 2nd place winner of the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC, and an Americana semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. In 2018, she went on to win the Kerrville New Folk Competition, collecting an honorable mention at the Telluride Troubadour contest along the way. More recently, Sarah was named Midwest Country Music Organization’s Songwriter of the Year for the second time.
“Rootsy singer Sarah Morris offers a Norah Jones-like approach to Americana, smoothing overs its rough edges with a butter-velvety voice and an intimate songwriting style.” Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune.
Inclined toward the intimacy of live performance, Sarah spends a remarkable amount of time on stage. Whether solo, backed by the country kick of her long-time band The Sometimes Guys (Nordlund, Foreman, and Lars-Erik Larson), as half of vintage-harmony heavy duo The Home Fires with Vicky Emerson, or hosting local and traveling musicians live online from her big green bathroom, her playful-hearted presence is both captivating and contagious. Amidst her steady performance schedule she has opened for greats like JD Souther, Suzy Bogguss, and Teddy Thompson – she’s had plenty of beautiful moments to revel in. And with a brand new album to share in 2023, she’s primed to offer us a few beautiful moments of our own.
Deeply committed to the Twin Cities’ life-giving music community, Morris hosts an online interview program called, “Hey, I Miss You,” to amplify the work of her peers, as well as collaborating with musicians for a Youtube series of under-rehearsed cover songs filmed in her laurel green bathroom. Additionally, Morris is head cheerleader for a local songwriting collective.
As a writer, lover, mother, and witness, Morris invites us to join her in missing the forest for the trees, with songs that count and celebrate the glorious details of our messy, magical, everyday lives.