By Mike Sembos
7:15 AM EST, December 12, 2012
w/ Symphonic Bodega & Jesse Newman. Mon., Dec. 17, 7 p.m. The Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St., Building G, Hamden, (203) 288-6400, theouterspace.net. $5.
The New Haven garage folk rock band Elison Jackson began as a solo outlet for songwriter/guitarist Sam Perduta, its namesake a misheard twist on Perduta's grandfather's name. He was a fisherman from New Bedford, Massachusetts who died long before Perduta was born.
"His name was actually Elson, which I didn't find out until about a year ago, which was well into the band's existence," says Perduta.
So he decided to stick with Elison.
The group surfaced on the New Haven scene a couple years back when Sam moved down from Berlin, Connecticut, and was encouraged by local label Taco Hut Productions to play a steady stream of shows, honing its sound at both the Taco Hut Headquarters and bars around town. The aggressive approach seems to have paid off. Perduta's band is a five-piece for live shows these days, augmented by Greg Perault on upright bass, Kevin Marrs on drums, Dan Hollenbeck on organ, and a new addition, Mike Kusek on guitar.
"What turned me to the band was their bluesy and 'old' feel and their work ethic," says Taco Hut founder Jose Oyola. "They keep to their guns, and expand what they are good at instead of jumping ship and following in what other bands are doing."
Elison Jackson's latest release I Do Believe He Flew Out the Drain Pipe was released earlier this year by the Telegraph Recording Company in New London, home of regional artists like Daphne Lee Martin, the Can Kickers and Sidewalk Dave, to name a few. It was recorded by Fuzzy Rainbow Productions at the Submarine in New Haven in January, by Bill Readey and Matt Thomas of M.T. Bearington, who also contributed vocals and instrumentation on the record. The band has been taking full advantage of its local resources and is quickly rising amongst the rank and file of the Connecticut music scene. Monday night it'll be playing at the Outer Space in Hamden alongside Bridgeport's Symphonic Bodega and central CT's Jesse Newman.
Perduta lists Symphonic Bodega along with bassist Gary Velush's other projects Fake Babies and Milksop: Unsung as some of his favorite local acts. M.T. Bearington too.
Perduta's deep, rich, spooky voice conjures ghostly imagery, and his lyrics contain poignant lines like "The cops don't come when you call" (from "New Britain Song") that can induce chills when delivered in such a vulnerable and melancholy manner. His timbre has the ability to deliver a gutteral punch. When he straps on a harmonica holder, it's impossible not to think of Bob Dylan. Though his own music isn't particularly Dylan-esque, he says Blonde on Blonde is his favorite Dylan album. But there's probably more of a Leonard Cohen influence in his songs. And Charlie Patton. And Neutral Milk Hotel. Locals might be reminded of the Butterflies of Love sound — melodic, but dark and moody. Folky Americana, but with a modern indie-rock edge.
"That 'New Britain Song' on the EP is about this house I used to live at that we also thought was haunted," says Perduta. "'Family Vacation' was loosely based on the Cheshire killers. Other than that, it's just kind of songwriting without anything specific in mind."
The band is currently forging ahead with new songs, living in the moment and making music as it comes without looking too far into the future. Perduta doesn't have much to say yet about the lyrical content of the new material, but he does have an interesting take on songwriting in general.
"Every song is kind of like a love song," he says. "Every song in the world."
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