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Elyse Amsterdam at Blackthorne 51- Elmhurst, NY

Elyse Amsterdam live

Watching movies will help you find actors you like. An actor who plays roles that are diverse shows range and acting skills. If they are the same person in every movie and that character is close to their personality in interviews, maybe they’re not acting at all. If you really want to appreciate actors, study directing. An amazing director can get performances from actors you didn’t realize they could give. Sometimes actors themselves didn’t realize they could give those performances.  Hugh Jackman said he had never cried as hard as he did in The Fountain. The director (Darren Aronofsky also directed Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan, and more) got him to a place he had never been and the result is a stirring, intense, passionate performance. Another good example of this with the same director is Marlon Wayans in Requiem for a Dream. You will see a performance that is leaps and bounds beyond Scary Movie.

This same interaction is true in music but the role of director is replaced with a producer. A skilled producer finds the soul of the song and forms it into something new much like a ceramicist and a lump of clay. I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies Phantom of the Paradise. Swan is a world famous producer and record exec looking for a new sound. He finds it in a song much to the doubt of his bodyguard/drug dealer. “Listen to the music” is all Swan had to say. Throughout the movie, you hear the song played in many styles by many performers including the ridiculously talented Jessica Harper (Rocky Horror fans know her from Shock Treatment, the sequel).

In my time, I’ve seen many acts pre and post producer. It’s difficult to hear what a song can be and I’ll never claim to be a producer. Lady Lamb is an amazing example. Watch some of her early videos on YouTube then listen to the album versions. You will be amazed. Tonight was the stage premier of Elyse Amsterdam. She brought her passionate voice to a metal bar in Queens where she opened the showcase and played a handful of originals before closing with an Any Winehouse cover. Elyse could benefit from a producer. She has the lyrics and the voice. She had an audience tonight and she had a microphone. The elements are there and I don’t suggest a producer would make the songs better, I suggest a producer can extrapolate the lyrics and the voice then craft a powerful delivery. I heard elements of Courtney Love and Linda Perry. I heard pain and love. I heard the voice, the performance is on it’s way.

My first time on stage was to a larger audience than this but I was in a band and I was playing covers, not my own story. I wasn’t bearing my soul through songs I had written and practiced for a decade. Elyse faced and powered through barriers that would stop most. Just like many other elements of life, support goes a long way. She had friends cheering and streaming the show. This is the perfect antidote to first show nerves. A few more gigs and she’ll be blowing the house down.

So why was she in a metal bar? No idea. I didn’t even know this place existed. It’s called blackthorn 51 and luckily on my way out, I noticed that on 4/7 John 5 is playing. Wow! I am very excited. Although it’s the night before my party, I may have to go see this unique performer. John 5 has a style that screams John 5. Owning your voice (or in this case, guitar style) is a gift. His technique is flawless, his sounds is a distinct combination of shred metal and chicken pickin’. Truly remarkable. I hope Elyse can share her voice in a way that communicates volumes with just her name. I’ll see her again for sure and hopefully soon.

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