ELISE - 2014-45

On Valentine’s Day, Elise Testone will perform her third annual showcase at the Charleston Music Hall but she isn’t one for keeping tradition. Rather, the evenings have always reflected her progress as an artist and sought to include those who have led her to that new peak.

If you’ve been following Elise since she stepped off as a finalist on American Idol, then you’re familiar with her memorable cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The first Valentine’s Day show happened shortly after that initial catapult to fame, and welcomed a stage of musicians complete with dreamy chandeliers, white flowers and candles. A year later, her second show aligned with the release of her debut album In This Life and she brought a full band with an accompaniment of a student choir and four-piece string section. Embodying the Americana and soul theme showcased on her debut, there were dream catchers hanging from the rafters and the idea of love on a romantic dinner date transformed into the “peace & love” motto of the 60s.

Approaching the third performance however, Elise knew it was time to head in a completely different direction. Over the past year, her sound has moved away from the Americana aesthetic and towards a more funk, soul, rhythm and blues inspired sound. Hence the evening’s title, “For the Love of Funkin’.” A new single that will be officially released at the show, “Help Me,” captures that new angle and is the first of three that will be put out every month in anticipation of a full-length LP. The change in genre is likely a consequence of the other shifts that have occurred for the singer in the past year, such as relocating to New York City and working in a completely new environment. That decision was driven by the city’s wealth of inspiration that is emphasized when you’re actually there, living in one space with so many amazing musicians. Notably, Elise has been writing with Adam Fallen, whom she actually reconnected with in the city as they had performed together before in the group Slanguage.

The Charleston-based project, Slanguage, originated with Adam, keyboardist Trey Cooper, drummer John Crimminger and bassist Robert Widlowski when they were still in high school and then invited Elise to join. She admits it was some of the best music she’s ever been apart of, which means something considering she spent the past week at the NAMM Conference jamming with current members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. An infusion of funk and rock, Slanguage definitely mirrors the sound that Elise has crafted with Adam recently and thus explains the direction of the Valentine’s Day show. Instead of presenting herself solo, the night directs the attention towards somewhat of a reunion for Slanguage. Somewhat, as only Adam, Elise and Trey will be returning and it’s a one-night only gig, for now at least. They’ll be accompanied by Sydney Driver on drums and Antoine Katz on bass, both of whom have also been working with Elise in New York and bring their own style into the mix.

So if you’re spending Valentine’s Day alone, get some friends together and dance your ass off instead of watching cheap romantic comedies. Elise is riding solo herself, and happily claimed, “Music is first and foremost my love, and always will be.”


Show information can be found here, or just purchase your tickets directly here. 

Written by Jess Marie Spence

Jess Marie Spence is a student at the College of Charleston studying Arts Management with a concentration in the Music Industry. She is the In-House Photographer at the Charleston Music Hall and also contributes to Charleston Grit.

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