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The Scarlet & Black

Elephant Micah plays to packed, studious Bob’s

During this tour, Elephant Micah has played everywhere from the office of an internet start-up to a barn on a commune. But rarely does he fit in as well as he did in Bob’s Underground cafe where his smart lyrics perfectly complemented a quiet but crowded concert.
Elephant Micah’s Tuesday night performance came just after Mark Trecka and Elizabeth Remis. This was the first stop for Trecka and Remis, who joined on the sixth week of Elephant Micah’s nine week tour.

“We were quick to take the opening slot because Elephant Micah, he’s a hard act to follow,” Trecka said.
Trecka and Remis’ opening show began by establishing an almost funeral atmosphere. For more than three minutes, Trecka hummed along with his tabletop quasi accordion for an ethereal, enveloping sound that the reporter could not quite shake.

Remis played the violin while Trecka sang and although most of what he was saying got lost, intentionally or otherwise, it sounded good–soulful, heartfelt, as if there was some definite emotion behind the drawn-out syllables.

The duo have played Grinnell before, as part of a three-person band.
“We’re two-thirds of a band called Pillars and Tongues. We’re also two-halves of a band called Mark Trecka and Beth Remis,” Trecka said, nearing the end of the set.

Elephant Micah, a band composed of Joseph O’Connell and his guitar, would definitely have been a hard act to follow. By the end of his first song, 20 or 30 people had filled Bob’s, and most were listening to his folksy, lyrical music. “Paintings are the work of the untrained mind/ so I stare at your still life/ as if it were wild,” sang Elephant Micah’s O’Connell.

He played a revised version of “Ramblin’ Woman,” a song by an old Appalachian singer, Hazel Dickens, which sounded notably different coming out of a deep-vocaled man’s mouth. Elephant Micah had an easy voice though, not trying too hard or singing too loud, just telling us, albeit broodingly, about his perspectives. He fit right in with the gossiping chatter and keyboard typing, lulling listeners without overpowering them.

Elephant Micah draws some of his influence from Joni Mitchell—his website’s tag-line is “one guy’s Joni problem”—but has also covered such classics as Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Grinnell, unfortunately, did not get to enjoy such a heavenly treat on Tuesday night.

Elephant Micah’s original songs can be bought on his website,, where albums recorded with Blue-Sanct Records and Time-lag Records are also available. Interested fans can find the Madonna cover on YouTube, though most songs are not available on iTunes.

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