2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of acclaimed Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz ensemble Club d’Elf. Mastermind Mike Rivard & Co. will celebrate with occasion with a pair of 20th anniversary shows and Deluxe Anniversary editions of Electric Moroccoland and So Below.
Rivard called upon a group of his musical friends for the first d’Elf gig on a February night in 1998 at the band’s home venue of The Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. Since that fateful night, an impressive and ever-changing array of performers have surrounded Mike Rivard and drummer Dean Johnston to form lineups for Club d’Elf shows in New England and beyond. Mark Sandman, DJ Logic, Ryan Montbleau, Marco Benevento, Hassan Hakmoun and Reeves Gabrels are just a few of those who have played as part of the ensemble.
The late Mark Sandman of Morphine fame was the first to encourage the group to proceed and gave his blessing to the band’s name. “Mark was busy with Morphine and tired of me bugging him about getting gigs for the Hypnosonics (A band featuring Rivard and Sandman),” Rivard related in a statement. “He said, ‘you need to start your own band’, so I thought ‘why not?’ I had a few names I was kicking around, with ‘Club d’Elf’ being a tribute to psychedelic avatar Terence McKenna who spoke of ‘self-transforming machine elves’, as well as referring to ‘Extreme Low Frequencies’. If you say the name correctly it sounds like ‘clubbed elf’, which I liked because it suggests something more sinister than some merry elves running around. Since Mark liked it I thought it was best to stick with that!”, he laughed. “I pitched the idea to my friend Billy Beard, who books the Lizard, and he gave me a few nights to try it out. He was particularly enthusiastic about the rotating cast with special guests aspect, as that would help keeping people interested and coming back.”
Club d’Elf will play with a lineup featuring keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood fame at The Lizard Lounge on February 9 as well as at The Falcon in Marlboro, New York on February 16. Duke Levine, who like Medeski has appeared the most with the band, will also participate in the Cambridge gig. Guitarist Will Bernard is aboard for the concert at The Falcon. Look for more surprise guests and “core” member DJ Mister Rourke to be part of the February d’Elf lineups as well. The ensemble will play an early and late show at The Lizard Lounge on February 9.
Of the new release and plans for 2018, Rivard said, “We’re excited to go back into the studio and record a new album in the spring, and this will be the first time we’ve reached out to our audience to help us with a crowd-funded project. We have some amazing, creative and just plain crazy folks in our audience, and it’ll be fun to get them involved in the process. I see it as an opportunity to connect with our fans in a way we haven’t before, and the interaction will bring good things to the music. I’m also looking forward to releasing some new tracks as part of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe digital editions of Electric Moroccoland and So Below, which is the fastest turn around for new music that we’ve had up til now. Some of these tracks were literally just finished this week, so they’re hot off the press. These albums give the best overall representation of the band’s sound, with over 25 musicians from the course of the band’s career contributing. Its a good close to this chapter of the band, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.” Club d’Elf is expected to play numerous festivals this spring and summer and will appear with John Medeski in New Orleans during Jazz Fest.
Keep your eyes on Club d’Elf’s Facebook page for news of where listeners can purchase the “new” 20th Anniversay Deluxe digital editions of Electric Moroccoland and So Below.
Listen to “Instar” from a 2011 show featuring John Medeski:
We don’t currently have any upcoming shows for Club d’Elf.
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