Emily Strand & the Town
Emily Strand is a songwriter/guitarist/vocalist 'who specializes in smart, confident and organic Pop songs.' (Cincinnati CityBeat) Strand, a Cincinnati native, plays regionally out of Dayton, OH, where she founded and hosts Girl/Solo/Live, a local and regional songwriter showcase for women in music. Strand's dynamic and roots-rocking band, The Town -- made up of Cincinnati veterans Shawn Elsbernd, Scott Hacker, Ashley Shepherd and Whitney Barricklow -- won the top prize of 'Tri-State's Best Unsigned Band' in modern rock radio station's 97X (now WOXY.com) '97Xposure' competition in 2003. Strand and The Town were also named as one of the Top Ten acts of 2004 in a year end critics' poll in CityBeat. In January 2005 Strand's song 'Lou' took the prestigious Grand Prize in the Folk category in the 2004 John Lennon International Songwriting Competition. Strand's song was chosen out of thousands of entries from all around the world by an Executive Committee of judges featuring such noted performers as Elton John, Judy Collins, Foo Fighters and Björk among many others. A new version of 'Lou' is featured on this release, which was produced by Ashley Shepherd (Blessid Union of Souls, Brian Lovely, Noctaluca). The EP features the tight, fusion-influenced talent of Strand's backing band, The Town. Rick Bird of the Cincinnati Post says: 'Cincinnati native Emily Strand, now based in Dayton, has always been known as an emotive solo singer-songwriter, but not so much a rocker fronting a band. That changes a bit with the release of 'Emily Strand & the Town,' a richly produced, five-cut EP that features the excellent four-piece band Strand has been playing live gigs with since '03. Band members include Shawn Elsbernd (drums), Scott Hacker (guitar) and Ashley Shepherd (bass, keyboards), who produced the elegant recording. On backing vocals is Whitney Barricklow, who fronts her own area band. Emily and Whitney have been singing together since they were kids, and the lush and intricate vocal arrangements are one of the project's signature sounds. 'Whitney's vocals really add to the feel. It's not just me doing what I can, singing with myself,' Strand said. 'She and I have sung together since we were 8, so we just fall in and out with each other.' The release includes two new Strand songs and three from previous CDs including 'Lou,' her relationship song that was the grand prizewinner in the folk category in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for 2004. Some of the $5,000 in prize money was used to press the CD. 'I had been doing recordings with the band for a while, but we finally had a deadline because some of the coupons were going to expire from the Lennon contest,' Strand said. Strand said she wanted to get a CD out with the Town members since none of the musicians had worked on her previous studio CDs. 'I like to call it a celebration of the band and what we've been doing in our live shows,' she said.