Acoustic Eidolon plays “acoustic music for the soul.” That slogan was “stolen” from the marquee of a Canadian night club where the Colorado-based duo had been booked.
“We saw that and smiled. So it’s become our catch phrase. Not that we play traditional world music, but we have a global feel,” recalled co-founder Joe Scott, who prior to Acoustic Eidolon, toured with The New Christy Minstrels and spent a decade recording and touring with the international group, Wind Machine.
Acoustic Eidolon comeS to Northwest Indiana for the first time tonight at Chicago Street Theatre as the latest installment of the venue’s ongoing “One Night Jam Series” produced by local music fan Paul Braun.
Tonight’s concert takes place in Edie’s Attic, the smaller of the two theaters housed in the Chicago Street building. Edie's Attic has a very casual, living-room or coffeehouse groove and because of the intimacy of the venue, tickets are extremely limited, so call first to confirm availability.
“My wife and I had heard Acoustic Eidolon a few years ago at a house concert, and were completely hooked. I’ve wanted to bring them to Chicago Street Theater for some time and that time is finally here,” said Braun. “With this series, we like to showcase some of the ‘best kept secrets’ in music and hope to turn people on to talented artists deserving of attention. Acoustic Eidolon is just that. I know people will be hooked the way we were after seeing this show.”
Music has been Colorado-native Joe Scott’s life since he was 14. “There was never a time when I considered doing anything but music as a career,” he said. He plays a number of instruments, but the one that always gets attention and makes jaws drop is a custom design of his own, the double-necked Guitjo. One neck is strung like a regular guitar with an extra bass string, and the other neck is strung like a banjo but with two extra treble strings. He plays both necks, and the effect is beautiful, often harp-like.
Meanwhile in the heartland of Champaign, Ill., Hannah Alkire, who was gifted at birth with the genes of a very musical family, becAme equally passionate about playing the cello in her early teens after attending a classical concert with her parents. “I’d taken piano lessons since I was four, but when after hearing the cello, I fell in love with it,” she recalled. “Once they bought me the cello, I never put it down.”
The passion of music eventually turned to a different kind of passion for the two musicians after a chance encounter at a recording session.
“I got a call from a group in Boulder that needed cello on their CD,” explained Alkire. “I live about 45 minutes from Boulder and when I got the directions to the studio it turned out that it was just down the street from my house. I literally walked my cello over to the studio and said -- ‘Hi, I’m your neighbor!’ -- to the guy who owned the studio, which turned out to be Joe, who was producing the group.” “That was in 1995,” added Joe. “He started calling me to come in for other studio projects after that,” finished Alkire.
“For the first couple of years, we were just musical partners and good friends and then it blossomed into more,” said Joe on how after forming Acoustic Eidolon in 1998, the two tied the knot in 2001. “We were working together and knew there was more than just the music going on, we’d fallen in love,” added Alkire.
That love grew while Alkire battled in 1999 with cancer and it empowered Scott, to relearn to use his playing fingers after he had developed the neurological condition, Focal Dystonia, which nearly ended his career.
The couple (now with two sons Zack and Alex) joke they have a marriage of convenience since they were already recording and touring together, but there is an unspoken communication, a body language and eye contact fans pick up on during performances. It’s there during interviews too, as they often finish each other’s sentences and complete each other’s thoughts. Hannah is clearly the “yin” to Joe’s “yang.”
Scott recalled Acoustic Eidolon started when he was experimenting with his Guitjo creation, and wondered what it might sound like if accompanied by cello. Making a quick call to Hannah, the two created a wholly unique and indelible sound. Acoustic Eidolon was born.
“What struck us most is we realized we had the potential to create a signature sound,” said Alkire. “Just pairing a guitar and cello is kind of unusual, but when you hear that blended sound across all these different influences, it makes the music so unique.”
“It’s very influenced by Celtic and Flamenco,” said Scott of the duo’s music. “Hannah’s recorded a few solo classical pieces and I grew up playing bluegrass, so you might hear some of that in there too. Primarily across our 10 CDs, there is a Celtic and Flamenco sound. We were strictly instrumental at first, but starting with our fifth CD, we began adding vocals to a few songs on each CD and people have really responded very well to those songs. About half the songs have vocals on our latest album, “Ancient Lovers.”
“Live concerts are about 60 percent instrumental and 40 percent vocals now,” continued Scott. “We like to set up some of the songs as well by telling a little story before playing them, like what country we were in when we wrote it, or how it came about,” said. Alkire.
“Mostly we play our originals, but we always throw in one of two instrumental versions of cover songs we like that our demographic will know. We perform them a lot different than people are used to hearing them and we get a lot of favorable comments.” Among covers one might hear are Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.”
Various live videos and be linked to and all of Acoustic Eidolon’s albums can be listened to online at: www.acousticeidolon.com.