Elizabeth Cook / Caleb Travers @ Off Broadway, St. Louis

Pictures and words by Duane Clawson
Alright kids I’m going to veer a bit off track with this review.  On this night at Off Broadway were two performers geared more toward the singer-songwriter and country side of music.  Up first was a standout in the St. Louis music scene.  Caleb Travers has been recognized for his efforts as a musician and a songwriter through St. Louis area music polls.  It should also be noted that on this night at Off Broadway, Caleb gets my vote for all around solo entertainer.  Caleb and I chatted briefly after his set where he explained why he was currently without a band, but in my opinion, there is really no need for a band.  If I were to label Caleb’s voice and sound, he would be the St. Louis version of Rob Thomas.  Caleb got the evening rolling by covering the Everly Brothers before he launched into the majority of music from his upcoming seven-song EP, Ain't No Jukebox.  In between songs, Caleb is a fountain of stories and information on how a song came to be.  Be it a ballad or an acoustic rocker, Caleb displays a massive amount of emotion and passion throughout every song.  Do yourself a favor, if you see this gentleman is performing at your favorite venue, get there early and check him out.  More on Caleb can be found at www.calebtravers.com .   

Sometimes on this musical journey we forget about the roots of music.  We forget how innocently music used to be delivered to the masses.   I have been to a bluegrass music festival and stood in awe of the sounds and tones produced with minimal amplification.  Tonight, three musicians Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll, and Bones Hillman reaffirmed the message music does not have to be complicated.  The stage was simple: an acoustic guitar, upright bass, and a Gretsch guitar through a small Vox amp were the tools of the trade.  One of the most important instruments in this mix is Elizabeth’s voice.  Elizabeth’s voice is comprised of pieces of Dolly Parton, Jeannie Kendall, and Loretta Lynn.   Elizabeth has had a long musical career and she made mention of performing over 300 times on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.  Elizabeth’s husband, Tim Carroll, guitar provides flourishes of rock and roll over the country rhythms and is a talented musician and songwriter, in his own right.  Completing this unlikely trio is Bones Hillman, of Midnight Oil fame, on the upright bass and providing complementary harmonies.  Elizabeth covered a fair balance of material from her 2007 album Balls and her latest effort Welder while dropping in a couple of country classics.

I’m going to dig a little deeper into a couple of Elizabeth’s songs.  First off is the song “Mama’s Funeral”, a combination of thoughts and observations from Elizabeth’s mother’s funeral.   You could have heard a piece of bread hit the floor as Elizabeth played this gut-wrenching song for the large Off Broadway audience.  “El Camino” with its groovy rhythm is a song about a Joe Dirt kind of guy that drives an El Camino.  In the song, Elizabeth appears to be wrestling with her emotions.  ‘Is it the car or the man that she is strangely attracted to?’  I would also like to mention Elizabeth’s awesome cover of “Cash on the Barrelhead”, a fitting tribute to a country music pioneer, Charlie Louvin, that passed away at the beginning of the year.  I know Music Tasters Choice is not totally geared toward country music, but it is geared toward live music, and tonight live music was king and queen.  In the studio phrasing and emotion are not always transferred to the hard media that’s being utilized.  A true fan of music can only get the previously mentioned qualities from a live performance.  Elizabeth Cook is at her best when served live.  You can find more on Elizabeth Cook at www.elizabeth-cook.com and her music can be found on iTunes.  I would like to thank Off Broadway, Elizabeth Cook, and Traci from Thirty Tigers for their hospitality.  Pictures of the show are below:

Caleb Travers
Elizabeth Cook
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Elizabeth Cook / Caleb Travers @ Off Broadway, St. Louis Elizabeth Cook / Caleb Travers @ Off Broadway, St. Louis Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on August 10, 2011 Rating: 5
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