Granville Automatic is Vanessa Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins. The duo write songs pulled from a shared love of history, horses and war. Granville Automatic is named after a 19th-century typewriter: Vanessa is a collector. With sonic references like Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, Granville Automatic has created a quiet and lyrical sound devoted to telling stories from the past. After writing together first in the spring of 2009, the pair now has more than 80 songs – almost all of which tell stories from history.
The band has been hard at work in Los Angeles and Nashville on its debut record. Recorded mostly at Station House Studio in Los Angeles with producer Ted Russell Kamp, the record features 11 songs including “Comanche” (about the horse who survived the Battle of Little Big Horn), “Hazel Creek” (about a town flooded when the TVA built Fontana Dam), “Blood and Gold” (the story of the mustang), “The Groundskeeper” (about a Civil War ghost seen at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee), “Flying Mercury” (about the 19th-century Pepin & Breschard Circus), "Carolina Amen" (about a solider lost in the Civil War battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse), “Copenhill” (about Sherman’s burning of Atlanta) and “Shores of Maryland” – as well as live favorites “Never On A Sunday”, “Tacoma Coal Line” and “Don’t Come to Tennessee”. The studio band included Kamp on bass, drummer Jim Doyle, guitarist/pedal steel player John Schreffler, Jr. and Bethany Dick-Olds on fiddle and vocals. Legendary harmonica player Mickey Raphael also joined in.
The album is set for release in spring 2012.
The girls are also already working on their second album. Chosen as the 2012 Composers in Residence at Seaside, Fla.’s prestigious Escape to Create program, the pair is writing an album of Civil War songs. Each song will tell a story from a Civil War landscape currently threatened by or lost to land development. Working in conjunction with the Civil War Trust , the girls will record the album on location at the battlefields – in the field recording style of John and Alan Lomax. A concert tour of the sites will coincide with the album’s release in 2013.
But Granville Automatic’s very first release will be a live EP. The band is featured on the third season of PBS’ Sun Studio Sessions (airdate early 2012). The eight-song set, recorded at Memphis’ historic Sun Studio, will be released as the iTunes exclusive, Live from Sun Studio.
Over the last year, Granville Automatic has played more than 250 tour dates, including shows at Hotel Café in Los Angeles, the Tin Angel and World Café Live in Philadelphia, The Bitter End and The Living Room in New York City, Momo’s in Austin, Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta and the Bluebird Café in Nashville (where their debut round sold out!). They have also played BMI’s Acoustic Lounge in Los Angeles and appeared on Nashville’s 103 WKDF radio, Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Thacker Mountain Radio and NBC Atlanta’s Morning Show.
In 2011, the group performed at SXSW, the CMA Music Festival, the 30A Songwriters Festival and the Key West Songwriters Festival.
Acoustic demos from the band led to a third prize win in Spin Magazine’s Next Great American Road Song contest, a top 10 finalist placement in the Maurice Small Town Sounds competition, a finalist nod in USAA’s GarageBand Playoff and a Top 50 finish in the Wildflower Performing Songwriter Competition.
Both girls have a history in the music business: Vocalist/songwriter Olivarez wrote and recorded a Top 10 single in Canada, has three cuts on Sugarland records, including a song on their multi-platinum Enjoy the Ride album, and received a Dora nomination for her work in the Toronto production of Hairspray. She was also a finalist on the second season of American Idol. Guitarist/songwriter Elkins is a Grand Prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest who has showcased at the Billboard/BMI Acoustic Brunch at SXSW, at BMI showcases in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville, and at CMJ. Elkins’ songs have appeared on television programs from “Smallville” to “Rescue Me”, “Jersey Shore” to CNN and in the film “Mean Girls 2”.
Balancing lives between Atlanta and Nashville, the two co-write frequently across the States for other artists – including collaborations with Nashville’s top country and pop writers and some of the best pop and urban writers in Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles. A pop song they co-wrote was recently heard on ABC’s “The Lying Game.”
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