A Brief History of Lady Elaine By Mychaela Greg Lucas was born in Seattle with many genetic anomilies. Aside from a heart valve that wouldn't close and a supersized kidney that never split in two, it was the surgery that connected his esphagus to his stomach that left little Lucas with vocal scar tissue. What seemed to be voice weakness throughout early childhood, and reason for his predominant shyness, would later become the secret of his success. 'I realized I could entertain my older brothers by replicating the voices of my dad's unconventional music catalog, for example the deep baritone of Leon Redbone, the rasp of Louis Armstrong, or the smooth melodic croonings of Nat King Cole. They thought it was hilarious that this low, manly voice was coming out of an eight year old boy,' explains Lucas. Greg took up playing the saxophone and drums in his elementary school band and sang harmonies on the piano with his doting mother. He continued playing in the band through high school, and when it was time to go off to college, he enrolled in the Fine Art program at Cornish College, also in Seattle. 'I found myself spending more time in the music department than anywhere else,' says Lucas. He ended up dropping out of Cornish, but soon after started a band with a few of the jazz students he'd met there. They called themselves Honeyboy and performed live on local Seattle radio shows. Lucas spent the next few years skipping around major cities of the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco, and playing with some well known, talented musicians (Bobby McFerrin, Bud Shank, and Jay Clayton to name a few). He studied with pillars of the jazz community Jay Clayton and Jerome Gray, and took a vow to never stop singing. Greg soon found himself attracted to the the sunny skies of Phoenix, namely the audio production program at Mesa Community College, headed by Andy Seagle. He made the trip south and arrived in the dead heat of summer 2003, moving into student housing at the desolate Williams Field Air Force Base. Come fall of 2003, Lucas settled into MCC and made new friends within the program and on campus. It was there at the hot dog stand that he exchanged some old demo tapes with the jazz enthusiast frank peddler, Frank. Frank threw on a tape one day that appealed to the ears of local guitarist and MCC student Ande Schuman. Greg and Ande began talking, and ended up arranging to play together at some nearby Mesa cafes. Covering the likes of Sam Cooke and Elvis Costello, the two eventually decided it was time to add a rhythm section, so Ande called on his Affinitas Call Center Supervisor, Adam Daugherty (he will insist that you pronounce it correctly, as Dock-er-ty) to play bass. Adam was a native Phoenician and had been attracted to music at an early age. His neo-hippie parents were always grinding LPs, and there was a piano nearby he could dink around on. It wasn't until Daugherty joined the ARMY in the late 90s that he picked up his roommate Eddie Boyle's guitar. Eddie told Adam, 'You're no good at the guitar-- why don't you get a bass instead?' So, Adam says, he heeded Eddie's words and 'went straight to the guitar shop. I bought my first stringed instrument, an acoustic bass,' and began to learn Violent Femmes and Smashing Pumpkins bass lines. After his stint in the ARMY ended in 2001, Adam came accross a local band on the internet seeking a new bass player. The band, Blue-X, a Rage Against the Machine/Pantera inspired group, was immediately turned on by the choice of samples he jammed out. Blue-X lead guitar player Ryan Probst was dually impressed by Adam, then 21, for he could get into the bars, unlike any others in the running. Adam and Ryan became roommates shortly after. Adam became 'Doc' to his band and house mate Ryan, and took up the guitar again. This time, successfully. Shortly thereafter, he came up with the riffs that would later become one of Lady Elaine's first original songs, 'No Good Woman'. Having much of his style rooted in the bass clef, Adam developed his own guitar style, which is very bass line oriented with treble accents to flesh it out. Lady Elaine's music is deeply characterized by the distinction between Adam's bass and treble notes, and often one might think they're hearing two instruments being played, where indeed there is only one. Blue-X split up after a short run, and Adam started jamming solo at open mic nights. He joined the Unskilled Workers Union with Ande Schuman. It was this collaboration that introduced Daugherty to Lucas and hence their union yielded the conception of Lady Elaine. As time passed, Ande dropped out of the mix and Adam took over on guitar. Greg and Adam soon realized that their strength together was in writing original songs. Now both working at Affinitas, they were able to take musical lunch breaks together and work on new material every day. Among some of the first penned were slower tempoed numbers like 'No Good Woman,' a tribute to folk blues ballads about passion and regret; 'Swayin'', a melodic ode to getting lost in admiration from afar; and 'Sometimes,' a reggae vibe nostalgic remembrance of a friend who died too soon. When it came to branding their music with a band name, the boys looked to an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood they'd flipped to on one of their 'lunch breaks.' The episode depicts Lady Elaine Fairechilde's accquisition of the Boomerang Zoomerang Toomerang, which she uses to turn Friday's kingdom literally upside-down. Furthermore, her reputation of questioning authority and being the voice of reason appealed to Greg and Adam. Juxtapose her with Lady Elaine of Arthurian lore - the Lilly Maiden that dies of a broken heart - and you underscore the dark side of love that is ever so apparent in Lady Elaine's music. Now with a name and a growing collection of new tunes, Lady Elaine was booking cafe and campus gigs weekly. Beginning a new semester at MCC, Greg was intrigued by drummer and saxophonist David Libman's classroom introduction. After class, Lucas claims he 'chased David down and gave him a CD and an invitation to jam.' David listened to the CD and says, 'I heard Greg's voice and thought, I gotta play with these guys.' Having revealed in class his background rich in music and a lifetime of band training, Greg thought David to be a perfect candidate to drum for Lady Elaine. His Grandfather, Aurthur Libman, was a tenor sax professional who played with a number of jazz greats, including the likes of Bobby Sherwood. When Aurthur past away he left David his horn and an inheritance, which David chose to use in his Grandad's memory. Libman invested in a custom drum kit, crafted just to his specifications, in a beautiful rich cherry red. Needless to say he eagerly became the third member of Lady Elaine, and has since established himself as one of the valley's most desired drummers. At just 23 years old, he is the drummer of choice for numerous local acts including Chocolate Fountain, Daimeon Mosely, Stylis, and Meredith Moore, among others. On many nights, David plays back to back sets with as many as four or five bands in a row! Now with a stronger rhythmic backbone, Lady Elaine's songwriting found a more rock-driven edge. The new songs included Counter Culture, an intensely building and climactic commentary about America's addiction to popular media; Survive This, an endurance mantra written for a Mount Everest climb benefit; and Takes Me Back, a totally fun tune about summer seaside nostalgia. And not to mention F*** F*** F***, a punk-rock, all-out wretching about a marvelous one; a tune that allows the band at the end of each show to play as hard as they can, like four volcanoes errupting just before bedtime. In late 2005 the band landed a gig at the famed Whisky-A-Go-Go in Hollywood. Having decided they needed a bass player to complete their sound, Adam called on Blue-X guitarist and former room mate Ryan Probst. Ryan, also a Phoenix native, had been playing guitar since he was old enough to hold one. His main influence was his 'Grandpappy,' who played blues guitar professionally in the 1950s and 60s. Probst also cites Slash and 'Dimebag' Darrell as significant guitar influences, and his bass playing has been described as 'supportive and groovy.' Ryan started Blue-X with cohort Nick Dial, but when they split up after two years, Ryan decided to take a break from his music career and focused on college and work. It was Adam's call about the Whisky gig in Los Angeles that landed Ryan back in the game; and ever since, he has completed the sound that is Lady Elaine. May 2007 finds the band currently unsigned and wrapping up their very first CD production. Recordings tracked at the Gray Room in Glendale, the Salt Mine in Mesa, and inside Warren Ross' home studio in Phoenix showcase the band performing at the highest calliber. Multiple tracks allowed the musicians to display skills on a motley of instruments within one song: Libman shows off his saxophone skills, Lucas gets to play the harmonium and bad-ass tamborine [the same way he gives it live], and Adam plays bass on a couple numbers, too. And with the expertise of Ross mixing and mastering, and help from friends Benny, Mark Kopenits, and Terry Garvin, what has been an long, on-going project is finally days from done and sure to be a stellar debut. The CD release party is set for July 6th at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, AZ.
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