Elena Skye and Boo Reiners typically release albums under the name Demolition String Band (DSB), the progressive country/bluegrass band based in Hoboken and including other musicians.
But for its new release, I Wait for the Light, they're simply Elena & Boo.
"People have asked us why this is an 'Elena & Boo' album and not another Demolition String Band release," says guitarist/vocalist/bano player Reiners.
"When we came up with the name Demolition String Band, we were an actual string band playing not only traditional country and bluegrass, but also Elena's original songs. But by the time we entered the studio to record our first album [Elena Skye & The Demolition String Band, 1999], we had added an electric guitar and a snare drum, which later on led to more drum kit pieces--and the doghouse bass got replaced by the Fender bass."
That first album reflected the band's varied shows and tours, and vocalist/mandolinist Skye's original songs.
"There have been times over the years when we felt like our band name was misleading to people who weren't familiar with our wayward, chameleon-like habits," continues Reiners. "They'd come to a show expecting a 'string band,' not us taking Ola Belle Reed's 'Undone In Sorrow' and electrifying it live with rock drums and heroic lead guitar, and segueing into Hendrix's 'Foxy Lady.'"
Among Demolition String Band's previous albums is Where the Wild, Wild Flowers Grow: The Songs of Ola Belle Reed, which was a tribute to the late old-time country and bluegrass singer-songwriter.
"We had been wanting to put together a collection of Elena's songs that would let us wander a bit stylistically from what we had been doing with DSB. Originally we thought this might be an Elena Skye solo album produced by me, but because I became so involved in arranging the songs, and Elena became more involved in producing--and there wasn't going to be any actual 'string band' music in the tracks--we realized it really made sense to release it as an 'Elena & Boo' album."
Skye concedes that "it would probably have been a lot easier if we had released this as a DSB album, since so many more people know us that way. But we really wanted to try to break out of that mold and do something a little closer to our rock/pop/singer-songwriter roots."
She adds that the duo has also been severely distracted by the current political climate.
"I still wake up every morning in a bit of shock that we're living through this nightmare," says Skye. "I'm really glad we included 'Jesus Was a Liberal" on the album--it was a last-minute decision: I was having trouble finishing what was to be the last track on the album and Boo had the brilliant idea to finish 'Jesus,' which we'd been kicking around for awhile and had some basic tracks already recorded, and it just came together super fast. It feels good to have a track that makes some kind of political statement."
She recalls Demlolition String Band's contribution to the Grammy-nominated My Name is New York: Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town CD/book project, for which they put music to Guthrie's unpublished song lyrics for "Go Coney Island, Roll on the Sand."
"I'd like to mine the Woody Guthrie vein more, and use music to bring together community and awareness and inspire people to get involved and make their voices heard."
Elena & Boo's newest song is lead track "I Don’t Know, I Can’t Say."
"I had gotten really excited when Elena first showed it to me," says Reiners. "There are moments in that song that give me the same type of chills I get from a Paul Westerberg song."
He and Skye will be playing the new album, which features DSB bandmates Kenny Soule on drums and bassists Winston Roye and Mike Santoro, both at Demolition String Band gigs and acoustic Elena & Boo duo dates.