Warm as a summer evening, with melodies as light as dandelion fuzz and delicate instrumentation that gives off a hazy glow, the music of Los Angeles singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell is a thrift store of nostalgic wanderings.
Taking '40s-style jazz and wrapping it in a blanket of soft, traditional country charm in the vein of Patsy Cline or Tammy Wynette, Mandell's songwriting is most often compared to Tom Waits — without the junkyard percussion, carny fantasies and whiskey-soaked vocals. 2004's Afternoon was an easy-going delight and the follow-up, Miracle Of Five, has arrived.
The scuttlebutt is she's gone in more of a blues direction, but that the vintage atmosphere of the proceedings is supposed to be true to Mandell past sepia-toned efforts. Blessed with a gorgeously weathered, but winsome voice, Mandell's Americana is full of heart and wry observations on love, loneliness, death and regret.
If you get the chance, go out and see Mandell on her May/June North American tour. In June, she'll be heading out with the Great Lake Swimmers. Dates are listed below:
Friday, May 4 - Malibu, Calif., Malibu Performing Arts Center*
Wednesday, May 9, Toronto, Ont., The Mod Club
Thursday, May 31, Kansas City, Mo., Davey's Uptown
Friday, June 1, Minneapolis, Minn., 7th Street Entry
Sunday, June 3, Chicago, Ill., Schubas
* With Erin McKeown and Melissa Ferrick
With Great Lake Swimmers:
Tuesday, June 5, Boston, Mass., Middle East Upstairs
Wednesday, June 6, New York, N.Y., Joe's Pub (Eleni and GLS play separate shows)
Thursday, June 7, Arlington, Va., Iota
Friday, June 8, Philadelphia, Pa., Tin Angel
Saturday, June 9, Pittsburgh, Pa., Garfield Artworks
Sunday, June 10, Chapel Hill, N.C., Local 506
Monday, June 11, Charleston, S.C., The Map Room
Tuesday, June 12, Atlanta, Ga., The 5 Spot
Wednesday, June 13, Birmingham, Ala., Bottletree Cafe
Friday, June 15, Houston, Texas, Walter's on Washington
Saturday, June 16, Austin, Texas, Emo's Lounge (inside)
Sunday, June 17, Dallas, Texas, Bend Studio
Wednesday, June 20, Los Angeles, Calif., Hotel Cafe
Thursday, June 21, San Francisco, Calif., Cafe Du Nord
Saturday, June 23, Seattle, Wash., Tractor Tavern
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday ... Record sale, record sale, record sale ... and monster trucks.
Ah, if only that were true. Actually, it's records and records only at the self-proclaimed Mother Of All Rock 'N' Swaps on Sunday, May 13, at the University of San Francisco.
Being the mother of all record swaps, it has a lot of hyperbole to live up to, but KUSF, the studio radio station responsible for putting this on, emphatically says it has vinyl galore, CDs, cassette tapes, photos and tons of rock art.
The event takes place at 2130 Fulton, at MacLaren Hall. The early bird with lots to spend can shell out $20 to get in first at 6 a.m. Want to sleep in a bit and get there later? That's cool. It's $3 to get in at 10 a.m. Moms, evidently, get in free, so if you're female and a little short on cash, give some kid a quarter to pretend he or she is your own flesh and blood.
Vendors, this is for you: it's $60 for your first table (admits two people) and $35 for each extra table (admits one each). Tables must be reserved by May 4. Set-up is from 5:30-9 a.m. (staggered times). Confirmations and load-in schedule will be sent out May 4. Organizers ask that you fill out the slip on the back completely and send it back to them.
For more information, call 415-386-KUSF. You might try sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org, too. They didn't include contact information in the notice we received.
Oh, by the way, the station says bootleg material is not allowed. The reason being, it's ILLEGAL.