Elysian Fields Elysian Fields
UPCOMING PERFORMANCE June 09

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Elysian Fields came out of New York’s legendary Knitting Factory, a hotbed of musical exploration and genre mixing and a hub of the vibrant 1990s downtown scene. Drawn together by a mutual love of The Beatles, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Iggy Pop, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Captain Beefheart, Ravi Shankar, Frederic Chopin and Olivier Messaien, founders Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow had traveled parallel paths in Washington, DC and New York until a scholarship to New York University’s drama department drew Jennifer to New York. Both had been to see the Bad Brains and Lounge Lizards (for whom Oren would play bass in the early ’90s), both worshiped Woody Allen and Fellini, both went to alternative high schools and had become independent at an early age.
 
Jennifer introduced Oren to the work of Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death) and Nick Cave, as well as the Cocteau Twins. Oren showed Jennifer The Seven Samurai, failed to interest her in Fairport Convention, scored with Randy Newman, and, significantly, introduced her to the songs of Ed Pastorini, whose band 101 Crustaceans Oren had joined in his late teens on bass and who would become a constant fixture in their work. At the time of meeting Jennifer, Oren was fresh from his only year at music school (at New England Conservatory) and was working with Ed and several smaller downtown bands in the scene that was dominated by post-free jazz composers like Henry Threadgill, David Murray on one side and dissonant guitar shredders like Sonic Youth and Glenn Branca on the other. In the center was the Knitting Factory, where such sounds mingled in the work of Arto Lindsay, John Zorn and other musicians who had been working mostly in lofts and underground venues in the preceding decade. It was here that Jennifer worked as an intern in the busy office where the club’s bookings, package tours and record releases were planned. She ran her own poetry series, waiting tables for paltry tips at sparsely attended Charles Gayle midnight sets with the January wind circling about the empty club. Although New York had great hip-hop in those years, the city was due for an explosion of great bands, and many of them frequented or played there, Cibo Matto, Blonde Redhead, Soul Coughing and Skeleton Key are a few of the notables of the “Class of 1994.” Others like Jeff Buckley and Firewater were particularly close to Elysian Fields, sharing a lot of the same players and many late nights together.
 

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