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avatar for Elizabeth McQueen/EMQ

Elizabeth McQueen/EMQ

It's retro future experimental; that may be the best way to describe the new trio called EMQ. Comprised of Elizabeth McQueen (the Grammy nominated former female singer for Asleep at the Wheel), Lauren Gurgiolo (guitarist for Okkervil River and leader of he experimental noise rock band the Dialtones) and Lindsay Greene (former bass player for Paula Nelson and Seth Walker), this new group is exploring what might happen when they mix and meld of all of their influences-- at once.

At the center of the sound are Elizabeth's crystalline vocals. Her singing has been compared to “Loretta Lynn spliced in honey.” Or maybe Peggy Lee copping Ella Fitzgerald licks. It's a sound that comes straight out of the mid-twentieth century, and when coupled with her arch top guitar rhythm playing, it is a thing of post-was beauty. But rather than surround that voice with appropriate instrumentation -- say live drums, upright bass and jazz guitar-- it's surrounded instead by Moog bass lines and Micro Korg riffs, distorted guitar loops and sampled drum beats.

The style came out of McQueen's collaborations with St. Louis folk-freak out band Brothers Lazaroff. In early 2014 they released a The Laziest Remix, a six song collection where the band took selections from McQueen’s 2010 release The Laziest Girl In Town and remixed the tracks, adding elements of hip-hop, noise rock and R&B. OVRLD said of the EP “It charts a path for a reinvigoration of vocal jazz/swing numbers by infusing them with so many different genre codes (hip-hop, electronica, reggae, etc, etc) that it sounds like nothing and everything all at once.”

When it came time to enlist an Austin based band to take this style and push it even further, McQueen knew exactly who she wanted to have with her on the journey. She's known Gurgiolo and Greene since her first early days in Austin, and both have now been her collaborators and dear friends for over a decade.

Lauren Gurgiolo is simply one of the most inventive guitar players in town and she commands the stage as the lead guitar player for Okkervil River. But Gurgiolo has long had a love of experimental sounds and her own project, The Dialtones, has allowed her to explore this love of audio-experimentation. In 2013 this passion culminated in a City-funded mixed media Art Installation called “Calculated Carelessness.” Inspired by Soren Kierkigaard’s “The Seducer’s Diary” the sold-out installation explored the ways in which people connect and disconnect through technology.

Lindsay Greene has made a name for himself in the roots and Americana world as a solid yet imaginative bass player, playing with McQueen, Paula Nelson, Seth Walker, Victrola, Jo’s House Band and the Robert Kraft Trio. But he too enjoys the avant grade. He’s been a member of the Dialtones since their early days as well as playing with Chad Raines' (Amanda Palmer) experimental dance rock outfit, The Guilty Pleasures. He was so interested in making the sounds he was searching for that he designed and built his own analog noise-creator — The Deuce, which is included in the EMQ instrumentation line up. In EMQ, Greene translates his bass skills to the Moog, while also providing other synth sounds.

All of this may not be what you would expect from a singer who just spent the past eight and half years traveling over a million miles with the legendary western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, but McQueen, a 13 year resident of one of the country’s most creative cities, feels confident that people will accept this new route. “Austin is the most accepting cities that I’ve ever seen. I never felt like my past in the country and swing world had to determine my future musical path. The way I see it, I’m taking the best of what I learned in my time with the Wheel — the vocal technique, the song structure, the guitar style and how to connect with an audience — and blending it with all the other kinds of music that I love. And I’m playing with some of my best friends on the planet. It’s all so interesting and exciting for me. And I know it will interesting and exciting for other people as well.”


My Bands Sessions

Saturday, March 21
 

9:00pm