Dani Elliot is a Punk Rock Icon

The Paris Monster show at the Basement last night was Muy Fuerte. Eight hours later, my ears are still ringing. Any time members of country, jam, hipster soul and metal bands all congregate under one roof to have the ever-loving christ pounded out of them by two bearded weirdos with a myriad blip-bloop gizmos…well, there’s hope for us yet. Such a cool fucking band.

My dear, angelic-voiced friend Dani Elliot opened the show. I’ve known Dani for several years - for reasons I still don’t understand, she agreed to sing background vocals with the Allen band for multiple tours -  and she’s embracing her artistry in a profound and inspiring way. Dani’s sang with literally the best of the best and was enjoying a lucrative career as a backing vocalist before focusing on her own music full-time. I could dedicate this entire post to how much respect I have for that decision. 

Ok fine, I will dedicate this entire post to how much respect I have for that decision.

The music business is brutal, and carving out a space where you feel confident sharing your art is an accomplishment in and of itself. Making a living in that space requires dumbfounding levels of courage. A reality where there are tour busses, fancy hotels, catering with organic hummus and venues where the word “theater” is misspelled? That’s unicorn rare, and I can tell you first hand, pretty gosh darn nifty.  And Dani’s worked at the level above that even, flying between tax havens in private jets ’n shit. That she’d walk away from all that and set up shop in a decidedly more humble zip code is both a testament to her character and evidence that the pursuit of art - your art, your story, your truth - is THE thing. 

Dani sings and writes with the confidence of someone who’s been given the keys to the castle and said nah, I’d rather build my own. FUCK YES, DANI. She might cringe at my saying this, by she’s one of the most punk rock people I know.

Looking around the Basement, there are musicians of all sorts: friends in country bands on major labels trying to suss out the radio game, virtuoso instrumentalists who see vivd landscapes in the Matrix code, hired guns jealous they're not decimating ears drums in the Paris Monster, and, well, there’s me - just some guy trying to make sense of a thing or two. As I’m standing here, being pummeled by 700db of electric mayhem, I’m thinking we should maybe give ourselves more credit, just a little anyway. As artists, convincing ourselves we're less-than can be like slipping into a warm bath. We’re all here because we had the courage to chase our dreams down the less traveled road, dreams that have blossomed into life-long friendships and miraculous careers. We’re doing it, all of us. Sharing our art. Telling our story. Speaking our truth.

In this moment - grinning ear to ear, well whiskey warming my insides, two-stepping with a pretty girl - I'm thinking maybe there's a place for me in this mean ol' world.