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Anybody's Guess

Anybody’s Guess Cover

Released November, 2013

Elixir is excited to announce the release of Anybody’s Guess, their third full length studio album. In their eighth year of playing together, you can hear the group digging into their combined sound with new explorations in timbre and fresh arrangement ideas. Elixir is rooted in a love of american fiddle music and inspired by horn section sounds of early jazz, classical music, and funk. Their new album features all this, as well as musical leaps into the unexpected. In other words, it is Anybody’s Guess.

  1. Suzannah’s (©Ethan Hazzard-Watkins) / Swingin' on a Gate: Ethan wrote the first tune during a clogging class taught by Suzannah Park. The second tune is an old favorite.
  2. Who’s That Blue Eyed Lady / Back Door Slam (both ©Dave Wiesler, BMI): Brilliant pianist and composer Dave Wiesler arranged this set for us incorporating two of his original tunes. Hold on to your hat!
  3. Lulu’s Back in Town (©Al Dubin & Harry Warren): Anna first heard this song in an early Sesame Street sketch. You should look that up. We’ll even give you the link: bit.ly/d8viHk
  4. La Tâche (©Owen Morrison, Oak Union Music, BMI): Named to commemorate a magical trip to Burgundy; the title, which translates to "The Task," is also the name of one of the world’s most glorious wines.
  5. Waiting for Earl (©Ethan Hazzard-Watkins & Emily Troll): Ethan and Emily co-wrote this tune on a dramatic, gusty evening at Pinewoods while waiting for Hurricane Earl.
  6. Reel des Accordéonistes (©Marcel Messervier) / Mother’s / Le Champs de Bleuet / Reel Ti Mé (©Marcel Messervier): An epic set of French Canadian tunes.
  7. Meredith (©Owen Morrison, Oak Union Music, BMI): Owen wrote this waltz for his wife for the occasion of their first dance as a married couple.
  8. Tarbolton Lodge: Owen’s version of this tune comes from Cape Breton fiddler Kimberley Fraser. Elixir’s rendering of it is a glimpse into our collective subconscious.
  9. Höpkers vals (©Lars Höpkers): A peppy waltz from Sweden. David Kaynor popularized this tune in the states after learning it from Bertil Ferneborg. Ethan’s horn parts infuse a bit of Latin flavor.
  10. Shall We Dance (©George & Ira Gershwin) / André à Toto: Anna arranged this mashup of an old Gershwin song and a tune learned from the playing of fiddler André Brunet.
  11. Divine Reel (©Keith Murphy, Black Isle Music, BMI) / Langstaff Library (©Ethan Hazzard-Watkins): This first tune is a sensation on YouTube. Ethan wrote the second with his fiddle, in the Library, at David and Cindy Langstaff’s lovely home.
  12. Ringstead (©Adam Broome, Lunar Canoe Productions): A lovely, contemplative waltz by our good friend Adam.
  13. Charlie Mulvihil’s / Gigue du Salon (©Pascal Gemme): Some pretty jigs to send you on your way.

A few of the folks who helped make the album possible:

  • Produced by Elixir and Matt Labarge.
  • Recorded & Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire in Amherst, MA.
  • Mastered by Lane Gibson in Charlotte, VT.
  • Graphic Design by Ethan Hazzard-Watkins.
  • Photos by Lauren Lamont.
  • Tunes by Owen are ©Oak Union Music (BMI).


Released in 2010

Elixir’s second recording Rampant features 12 tracks of daring acoustic music as the band stretches out to develop its unique sound and tackle some bold repertoire. From blazing French Canadian reels to beautiful waltzes, from spicy originals to classic songs, Rampant is a wild ride of musical goodness.

  1. Babe of the Night (Ethan): Ethan wrote this tune in the gypsy jazz style. We have no idea what the title means. Horn parts by Ethan, with a shout chorus by Owen. Track arrangement by Ethan.
  2. Motel Henri / Mama: This peppy Quebecois tune came to us via fiddler Jessie Gagne-Hall, and we developed horn parts during a band workshop at Moondance in SC. We intertwine the reel with an old Dixieland song. For the record, our mothers have always encouraged our screeching, thwacking, tootling, and honking. Horn parts by the band on the first tune, and by Anna, Jesse, and Owen on the song. Track arrangement by Anna.
  3. Daybreak (Owen): Written on his parents’ funky old Steinway, this is Owen’s attempt at a simple, pretty, and infectiously singable waltz. Horn parts and arrangement by Owen.
  4. Peas Breakdown / Gigue du Plateau Mont-Royal (Jean-Claude Bélanger): Ethan and Anna picked up the first tune at a killer Tuesday night session in Montreal. The second comes from Jeremiah McLane’s solo CD Freetown; we leave out the first part. Horn parts and arrangement by Anna.
  5. Rampant Tolerance (Owen): Soon after writing this jig, Owen tuned in to a conservative talk radio show discussing all the things currently wrong with the country. Problem number one, apparently, is the rampant notion of tolerance. Horn parts and arrangement by Owen.
  6. Spark (Ethan) / Derry Reel / Whittier Street (Anna): Ethan wrote Spark after listening to Nightingale’s lovely CD Jolie for the first time. Anna came up with the third tune while driving to visit some fine folks on Whittier Street in Montpelier, VT. The middle tune is a traditional Irish tune. Spark and Derry horn parts and track arrangement by Ethan, Whittier horn parts by Anna and Jesse.
  7. Sprout (Dave Wiesler, ©1998 BMI): Dave Wiesler, a wonderful pianist and skilled composer, wrote this fast spicy waltz for a lovebird named Sprout. Arrangement by Ethan.
  8. Sit Right Down (Fred Ahlert & Joe Young): This is one of those old pop songs that manages to sound upbeat despite an exceedingly sad, pathetic lyric. We learned this from the singing square repertoire of Ralph Sweet, but we sing the original verse and chorus. Horn parts and arrangement by Anna.
  9. Cordonnier / Beeswax Sheepskin: Eric Favreau taught the first reel in a fiddle class at Ashokan, and the second is Irish by way of Quebec. We’re grateful to Nils’ old ska band Johnny Socko for the horn break and to Marko Packard for the Beeswax horn lines. Cordonnier horn parts by Ethan, track arrangement by Nils.
  10. Middle of Night (Peter Barnes, ©2002 BMI): Peter Barnes – pianist, composer, insomniac, and all around swell guy – penned this lovely waltz while awake in the wee hours. Horn parts and arrangement by Anna.
  11. Calle Cespedes (Owen): Calle Cespedes is the street where Owen lived during his five month stay in Sevilla, Spain. The piece alternates between several different parts, all with a slight Andalucian flavor. Arrangement by Owen.
  12. Bransle (T. Susato) / Tom Kruskal’s (Amelia Mason & Emily Troll): We begin with a Rennaisance piece (pronounced brawl) that Jesse brought from the classical brass quintet repertoire. Amelia and Emily wrote the second tune for their friend and morris/sword dance mentor. Susato arranged by Jesse, Tom Kruskal’s horn parts and track arrangement by Nils.

A few of the folks who helped make the album possible:

Rampant Cover

Super Tonic

Super Tonic Cover

Released in 2008

On its first CD Elixir blends the raw energy of a honkin’ horn section with some slick fiddling and absolutely awesome guitar licks to brew a musical tincture they call Super Tonic. You’ll hear some favorite dance tunes, a couple of waltzes, a tango, and a few other surprises. The band is joined by Will Patton on bass and mandolin, and Deb Patton on vocals and shaker.

  1. Dance Around in Your Bones (Walter Donaldson & Edgar Leslie) / Homage a la Belle Gaspesie (Marcel Messervier): A classic Vaudeville-era song that sums up our feelings about dancing, combined with one of our favorite French Canadian tunes. Ethan, Anna, Nils, Jesse, and Deb patton sing on this one. Horn parts by Anna.
  2. Wallace’s Cross / Ring of Kohala (Dave Bartley): The Kerry polka that begins this set comes from the repertoire of Owen’s father Jim. Nils learned a nascent version of the second tune from Dave and taught it to us as he remembered it. Dave’s final version – with four parts and a slightly different melody – is on the fantastic KGB recording In from the Cold. Horn parts by Anna and Nils.
  3. Chicago (Ethan): Ethan wrote this waltz while on tour in the windy city, and later arranged it for Elixir.
  4. Reverend Brothers / Calamity (Ethan): We pair a common Irish jig with a dramatic tune that gives Nils a chance to really honk. Horn parts by Ethan.
  5. Bird in the Bush: We learned this lovely reel from fiddler Mary Lea. Horn parts by Ethan.
  6. Jehovah’s Retreat (Jeremiah McLane, ©2004 Floating Bridge Music) / Humors of Tulla: This is one of our favorite tunes from master tunesmith and monster accordionist Jeremiah McLane, switching into a trad Irish reel. Horn parts by Ethan and Anna.
  7. Dongo (Will Patton, ©2007 Kings Hill Music): An original tango by prolific composer, jazz mandolinist, Brazilian choro enthusiast, and frequent Elixir guest Will Patton. Deb Patton rocks out on shaker. Horn parts by Anna.
  8. I Don’t Know Why (Fred Ahlert & Roy Turk): This popular ballad from 1931 has been recorded by the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and many others. At some point it was reworked into a singing square, which Nils learned from Ralph Sweet. We offer it here with Nils singing the original lyric. Horn parts by Anna and Ethan.
  9. House of Hamill (Ed Reavy) / Abe’s Retreat: Two kickin’ reels. Listen for the super-tonic in this one. Horn parts by Ethan and Nils.
  10. The Rambling Pitchfork: A sweet Irish jig. Horn parts by Ethan
  11. Reel du Montreal / Pointe a Pique: Two classic favorites from Quebec. On the first we borrow an R+B riff from a James Hunter song. Horn parts by Anna.
  12. Hope (Owen): Owen originally composed this passionate waltz as a piano solo, but the dramatic possibilities of Elixir’s horn section were irresistible. Arranged by Owen.
  13. The Red Star Line (Kathy Talvitie) / The Adirondack (Ethan): Kathy wrote this slow and stately air to celebrate the recording process with her band A Joyful Noise, and Philippe Callens choreographed a lovely English Country Dance to fit the tune. We play it here at a faster tempo and with a more driving character than Kathy intended; we are grateful to her for allowing us re-interpret her music. Ethan wrote the second tune standing by a lake in the Adirondacks. Red Star Line horn parts by Jesse, Adirondack horn parts by Ethan.

A few of the folks who helped make the album possible:

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