On the Eve of Greatness

Posted on January 19, 2012

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Eve and Tom

I don’t write about music, mostly because I don’t know anything about music. I can’t sing, don’t play an instrument, and couldn’t explain the difference between melody and harmony, even on an open-book test. I’m lucky if I can figure out how to turn on the radio. Once in a while I find myself reading music reviews, but my comprehension tends to be low because they use words and phrases like retro, electro-pop, cross-cutting riffs, and jazz-inflected rhythms. I never have the slightest idea what they’re talking about.

As with food and wine, I’m unable to break music down into its basic components and analyze them in any in-depth, comparative way. I don’t know the language and have trouble tuning into the nuances. But I know what I like. It’s either something I want to listen to, or it isn’t.

Recently, I discovered the music of Eve Selis and her band. Eve is married to my nephew, Tom — my oldest brother’s oldest son. I love Tom with all my heart, and so just before meeting Eve, I promised myself I would love her, too, if for no other reason than because of her husband. As it turned out, those private promises proved unnecessary. Eve is every bit as lovable, and would be so, even without her immense talent as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

The Eve Selis Band

The Eve Selis Band has won about two dozen prestigious awards and has appeared onstage all over the world. Originally called Kings Road, the band has grown and evolved over the past twenty years. Several members have gone on to separate careers, and one passed away. Along with Eve and guitarist Marc Intravaia, the band now includes Jim Soldi, Sharon Whyte, Rick Nash, and Larry Grano. Their appeal, if I may venture into my own personal land of the uninformed, is partly a combination of sound, songwriting skill, and some kind of chemical reaction that seems to happen when they perform together. For me, it isn’t just how they sing, but what they sing about.

They sing about life. Not the perfect life as described by all those sugary, sappy songs that make you want to damage your own eardrums. And not the miserable life bemoaned by so many singers who seem intent on compelling you to fill up the bathtub and drown yourself. These are songs about real life — the annoying struggles and the pleasant little surprises, the devastating heartache and the uplifting joy. They’re about what hurts us and what makes us feel happy, and how sometimes they’re the same things.

"Family Tree" (Click image to order.)

The group’s latest CD — their tenth — is Family Tree, and you need only read the titles of the songs to know that these musicians have felt the sting of life’s sharp edges: “Don’t You Feel Lonesome,” “I Don’t Want To Cry,” “When Is Everything Enough.” But other songs reflect the band-members’ ability to take the knocks and bounce back, singing: “Bump in the Road,” “Water Off A Duck’s Back,” “All Roads Lead To Here,” “Crazy That I Love,” and “Hallelujah”.

And that may explain the popularity of these six talented people, not just locally in the San Diego area, but all across North America, Europe, and everywhere they travel. When I listen to their music, I hear the familiar themes of that real life: loss, betrayal, trust, devotion, dreams, gratitude, courage, fear, struggle, self-delusion, determination. The willingness to endure, but the refusal to be destroyed. Having hope without being irrational, and being realistic without becoming grim. Feeling the pain, but remaining strong. Their lyrics remind us that sometimes all we can do is cry, and sometimes we just have to laugh. These people have learned life’s lessons the hard way, which is the only way to learn them. And their music inspires me to at least try to do just what they’ve done themselves: turn those hard lessons into something beautiful.

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Eve sings in at least six major charity fundraisers every year, and is active in the fight against breast cancer. Her music can be heard in four independent films, and she’s performed live on CNBC, ESPN, and CBC Radio. Visit her website and Facebook page for a lot more information about the group, and to hear some of their amazing music. I don’t know if you’ll find any retro, electro-pop, cross-cutting riffs, or jazz-inflected rhythms. But you’re going to love Eve, and her band. That much I know.

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From http://www.essortment.com:
“Melody is a musical and successive line of single tones or pitches perceived as a unity. Its characteristics include range, shape, and movement. Harmony is the relation of notes to notes and chords to chords as they are played simultaneously. Harmonic ‘patterns’ are established from notes and chords in successive order. Melodic intervals are those that are linear and occur in sequence, while harmonic intervals are sounded at the same time.”

(See what I mean?)

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Posted in: Family