Hi, Jennifer here.
It is with heavy sorrow that I share the news of the passing of my beloved friend, Hal Willner. Many of you already know about this, and I know you're hurting too.
I want to share how much Hal has meant to us and how grateful I am to him for his love, generosity and support over the years.
We met in the early '90s, and before long he was inviting Elysian Fields to participate in some of his concerts. The first one was Edgar Allan Poe at St Ann's, but there would be many more that he invited us to be a part of over the years. He didn't have to keep including us, but he did. Hal was an artist's artist, a musician's musician, a human's human. Hal was down to earth and humble. A lover of beauty. A lover of so MUCH! He was loving, and funny and irreverant as hell. He gave a great hug.
A great celebrator of important art, of music, poetry, of artists themselves! He was a champion of so much that was lost or forgotten, underground, and obscure — including my band, which he continued to champion over the years. There were probably very few Elysian Fields concerts in NY where Hal wasn't in attendance over the past 30 years, even if it meant coming to deepest Brooklyn.
He had us into his home, let us stay at his place in California. We shared so many laughs, and an appreciation of the many things that we were excited about in music and film, radio, television, and all the things that we wanted to do. He could always pull a new rabbit out of a hat and turn me on to something of which I had little knowledge.
I have many memories of working together, and grateful for all of them. From Poe, to Randy Newman, to Disney, Arch Oboler, Allan Sherman, Nino Rota, I'm sure I'm forgetting some... oh, and he put one of our songs in a Robert Wilson play. And there's the Marc Bolan compilation record which is jam packed with stars that somehow we got on, that is slated to be released some time soon...
A warm night last summer, having bbq in the backyard of The Owl, Spanish Fly played a killer show, and then Hal read some amazing Lenny Bruce letters. He was such a good reader! It was as if the mumbling Hal had disappeared when he could inhabit someone he loved. I had seen him do that before, acting Arch Oboler. And he could act! Anyway we were reminiscing about the Randy Newman show later that night and Hal was still laughing and tickled at Randy's outrage over the hodgepodge ensemble Hal had put together to pay tribute to Randy. Vic Chestnutt, EF, Van Dyke Parks, Rip Torn... hardly glossy big names. Hal said, "And Randy says to me: You put together the March of Dimes to pay me tribute?"
But Hal didn't give a fuck. He knew what was great. And he didn't need it to be a big name, even though he did have an impressive Rolodex. It wasn't just about the big names. It was just as much about the small names. He loved all the musicians, all the players. He heard what was going on.
And personally, I can say he was a tender and very very sweet person who was not afraid to express his love. He was a beautiful friend, and his family was so important to him. We would talk about the friends we've lost over the years, about being arty jews, about his father, about the dream music shows to come. He would talk about how much he loved his son and how amazing Arlo was and how he just blew his mind all the time, what a complete and special person he is. He loved his family, and I'm sending his incredible wife Sheila my loving prayers, and Arlo too, and his father down in Florida.
There's a giant hole in all of our hearts. There's a giant hole in New York — what is left in New York. He would sometimes say, 'We're all that's left', and I can't even...
I feel so deeply for his family and I feel for all of you who knew and loved him. He was truly one of a kind, and I just can't imagine a world without him.
And here we are.
Hal had recently told me that he loved our new song "Transience of Life" and that he wanted to make a video for it. Well, last week exchanging texts, he told me the video was ready. It left me speechless. I don't know that I'm ready to share that video. I'm imagining it was probably one of the last things he made because he sent it to me on the 30th of March. And it's sheer and utter Hal.
I'm gonna think about it. I'll probably have more on that later. But in the meantime, I wanted to say that I love you forever Hal. I hope you're hanging out with all the greats, and they're hanging out with you — spinning yarns, sharing poetry, maybe listening to Mingus.
Because we spoke so recently, I can't even wrap my brain around the reality that this was a COVID-19 death. And that's really painful. There was so much more to do, to create, to produce, to listen to. Doing it without Hal seems unimaginable.
Sometime this week I'm going to take out the Red Foxx record that he gave me for one of my birthdays. It's gonna be high time for a laugh. A Yuck and a Nyuck-Nyuck.
Hal was a brilliant artist, and in his own way, I think a quiet one. There was something like alchemy where he could make some magic out of so much coal. This lil piece of coal will never forget you, Hal. Thanks for making me feel cherished. Love you forever, Jennifer
There will be a new album in the spring.
EF has released the first 7-inch single of their 20-plus year career, a two-song 45 with cover art by Jennifer Charles. "Song For A Nun" b/w "Ball Drive" was released on Halloween. Order it here! https://elysianfields.bandcamp.com/album/song-for-a-nun-b-w-ball-drive
Meanwhile, the band also has a new video from Pink Air.
"Dispossessed" was directed by Jonathon Rosen in brooding black and white and you can see it here:
This week the band embarks on a monthlong tour of Europe, with stops in France, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland. See the tours page.
EF have a new video out! See the Big Takeover premiere of "Storm Cellar" here
We are thrilled to announce the new Elysian Fields album Pink Air, to be released 21 September (US) and 28 September (EU).
The 11-song album is a post-apocalyptic rock & roll joyride, and will be released by Ojet in the States and by Microcultures Records in France.
Watch this space! Tour dates are being confirmed and singles from the album (with a preorder link) are coming soon.
Meanwhile, Jennifer will be one of the special guests in the New York City premiere of Hal Willner's Amarcord Nino Rota on Friday, July 27 (7:30 pm) at the Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park. Reserve TICKETS!
From the Lincoln Center web site: Legendary music producer Hal Willner brings together an eclectic array of musicians for an imaginative musical tribute to Italian composer Nino Rota, known for his iconic scores to Federico Fellini's films including La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, and Juliet of the Spirits. The night opens with music from two other famous Rota scores—the first two Godfather movies—before digging into the Fellini music with a live performance of the seminal 1981 tribute album that launched Willner's storied career, Amarcord Nino Rota (I Remember Nino Rota).
Jennifer will make a special guest appearance in the Dr. Octagon/Handsome Boy Modeling School show on Thursday, April 5 at Brooklyn Bowl.
Elysian Fields have finished a new album to be released in the second half of 2018. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and Oren (along with drummer Chris Vatalaro) recently contributed a track to the compilation Vanity Of Vanities--A Tribute To Connie Converse, released this month on John Zorn's Tzadik label. They are joined on the compilation by the likes of Karen O, Jeff Tweedy, Big Thief, Mike Patton, and Laurie Anderson, with everyone chipping in a unique take on this lost songwriter's catalog. Elysian Fields work their magic on "Man In The Sky."
From the Tzadik site: Connie Converse was a remarkable composer who worked in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1974, depressed over her lack of recognition and success, she packed up her belongings and drove off never to be heard of again. Little known in her lifetime, she is now viewed as a pioneer of the modern singer/songwriter genre. This exciting compilation collects fifteen of her most unique and soulful songs performed by an all-star group of contemporary singer/songwriters. Featuring an informative essay by musician and Converse scholar David Garland, Vanity of Vanities is a heartfelt tribute to one of the unsung heroes of contemporary songwriting.
La Mar Enfortuna Lead a Haunting Guided Tour of Sephardic Music at the Jewish Museum
By Delarue (New York Music Daily — November 10, 2017)
Elysian Fields contributed a track to English post-punk band The The's Radio Cineola: Trilogy box set, which can be ordered here. The duo recorded "Gravitate To Me" from The The's 1989 album Mind Bomb.
La Mar Enfortuna (Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow) are making a rare appearance this fall at The Jewish Museum in New York City. The sephardic group will perform on Thursday, November 9 (7:30 – 9 pm) at Scheuer Auditorium in a concert presented by Bang On A Can. Get [TICKETS].
Jennifer and Oren spent a fruitful summer finishing up the writing for their next record. Elysian Fields go into the studio the end of August in upstate New York to begin recording for the new album!
In case you missed it, the opera Jennifer starred in last year won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for music. The opera — Du Yun's 'Angel's Bone' — was called "an appallingly good work" by The New York Times. Over the summer, Jennifer, along with the rest of the cast, recorded this original opera, which comes out October 7 on VIA Records.
Jennifer collaborated with her old Lovage running buddy Dan The Automator to make this breezy summer tune, which debuts as an Amazon Music Original today (6/23).
Director Stephan Littger has finished production on a new Elysian Fields video for an older Elysian Fields song:
EF have returned from the West Coast and will return to Brooklyn on June 10th for a night at The Owl [TICKETS]
The Pulitzer prize goes to Du Yun's Angel's Bone. Jennifer starred as the girl angel, in Du Yun's epic opera about two angels that fall to earth (a fable about human trafficking). Jennifer is thrilled for Du Yun, and proud to have originated this unusual role.
Here is Spin Magazine's take: "The Pulitzer Prize Winner for Music Is an Ambitious, Punk-Influenced Opera About Human Trafficking"
EF will take a trip to the West Coast this spring, making their first appearance in San Francisco in 15 years at Hotel Utah on 4/26. Get [TICKETS]
Elysian Fields has a new video! "The Animals Know" is the third video from Ghosts Of No and the second from director/illustrator Steven Mertens (who also created the video for "Channeling" in 2014).
Jennifer guest spots on the debut album by Tredici Bacci, co-writing and singing on "Drowned." Tredici Bacci is the project of musician and composer Simon Hanes that channels his love of '60s/'70s soundtrack music, tipping his hat especially to Italy and the likes of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. The group's new album, Amore Per Tutti, is out via NNA Tapes, and you can hear it here.
EF has premiered a new video with French newspaper Libération. It is for the song "Higher Power" from Ghosts Of No and is directed by Lance Scott Walker. See their story HERE
Elysian Fields will play in Brooklyn this weekend before another trip overseas:
The Owl Music Parlor
[TICKETS] w/ Secret Sibling
Usine à Gaz
[TICKETS] w/ NADJ
w/ Première Partie
[TICKETS] w/ Emilie Zoé
Le Poste à Galène
Le Rocher De Palmer
[TICKETS] w/ Ernst Reijseger, Troy Von Balthazar
[TICKETS] w/ Troy Von Balthazar
EF also made two radio appearances in Paris before getting out on the road:
Sunday 15 May, 8:30PM on France Musique: [LISTEN]
Monday 16 May, 9:00PM on France Inter: [LISTEN]
The new album Ghosts of No is out and available in the EU on LP, CD and digital from French label Vicious Circle: www.viciouscircle.fr and in the US as an LP, compact disc and download from elysianfields.bandcamp.com
Coinciding with the release of Ghosts of No is the video for its closing track "Shadow Of The Living Light," shot by Lance Scott Walker in the Mojave Desert.
Jennifer Charles can be seen onstage in New York in Du Yun and Royce Vavrek's new opera Angel's Bone. You can buy tickets here. See the New York Times review:
Review: In 'Angel's Bone,' Terrified Seraphim at the Mercy of Mortals
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim (New York Times – January 7, 2016)
ELYSIAN FIELDS: October 29 2015 – October 31 2015
Night Life (The New Yorker – October 2015)
Elysian Fields celebrating 20th anniversary by playing their entire discography across 7 NYC shows
(Brooklyn Vegan – October 27, 2015)
New Brooklyn venue The Owl opened by Elysian Fields members in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
(Brooklyn Vegan – October 27, 2015)
Elysian Fields celebrate 20 years with new video + concert series at their new venue The Owl starting Thursday (10/29)
By Zach Weg (The Deli Magazine – October 26, 2015)
Elysian Fields' New Music Video Will Purr You To Dreamland: BUST Premiere
By Kaya Payseno (BUST – October 14, 2015)
Elysian Fields celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band with a retrospective concert series at the new Brooklyn music space The Owl Music Parlor, along with one show at their home base in recent years, Le Poisson Rouge. Each of the concerts will feature an Elysian Fields album played in its entirety, and you can expect many of their longstanding collaborators and cohorts to appear every night. .
The Q's Heart Leaps - The Owl Music Parlor
By Clarkson FlatBed (The Q At Parkside – September 3, 2015)
Elysian Fields is working on a new record for 2016, and before that they'll open a club in Brooklyn. This is what it will look like. (DNA.info)
For the first time in a long time, Jennifer and Oren's sephardic side project La Mar Enfortuna will reunite to play Krakow, Poland for the Jewish Culture Festival on June 30, 2015. The next night, Elysian Fields will play their first ever gig in Krakow at Klub Alchemia. Get [TICKETS]
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Elysian Fields. Be on the lookout for special shows in New York in summer/fall 2015.
There are new shirts and colors in the shop!
The new Elysian Fields video by Steven Mertens for "Channeling" premiered on Vice's Noisey blog on Friday, December 5 ("Elysian Fields' New Video Will Quench Your Thirst for Psychedelia and Cats") and was the Vimeo Staff Pick on December 11. See it here:
Oren and Jennifer are hard at work creating music for Parisian dance company Affari Esteri's latest work "Guerrieri e Amorosi," which debuts in early 2015.
Very soon to premiere is the first video created for the new album by Steven Mertens, for the song "Channeling." The band is just beside themselves with excitement to soon share this with the world.
Elysian Fields will appear at Le Poisson Rouge on October 30! Show starts early (6:45 pm) with Charles Gayle on solo piano [TICKETS]
Jennifer and Oren will be special guests in Steve Nieve's upcoming NY City Winery show on October 3rd. So if you ever wanted to hear them cover Elvis Costello, now's your chance! [TICKETS]
EF will make a trip into Massachusetts on August 16th to play MASS MoCA. You can purchase tickets online in advance here.
Elysian Fields will perform live on Irene Trudel's show on WFMU, on Monday, June 2 at noon.
Elysian Fields is in Europe! See the tours page for dates. On Thursday, April 3 at 2:30pm EST and 8:30pm in Paris, the band will do a live broadcast from Radio France's Studio 105, presented by FIP Live. Listen here!
Jennifer and Oren will be special guests on Irwin Chusid's show live on WFMU, playing, talking, spinning. Wednesday, March 12 at 3:15pm (EST)
CONTENT CREATORS COALITION EVENT at Le Poisson Rouge, Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Jennifer will be playing with Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, alongside David Byrne, John McCrea, Mike Mills, Jason Moran, and others. This a free event! Join music makers and music lovers alike in urging Congress to support artists' pay for radio play.
FREE w/ RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Purple Mutha: A Night of the Music of Prince, a fundraiser for Motherlodge Live Arts Exchanges at Le Poisson Rouge, Monday, March 3, 10:30
Both Oren and Jennifer will be performing Prince songs in this benefit for Motherlodge
Elysian Fields will release a new album, For House Cats And Sea Fans, on February 24 in Europe (Vicious Circle) and on March 21 in the US (Diluvian/Ojet). Guests include James Chance, JG Thirlwell, and John Medeski. The cover was painted by John Lurie.
The band will embark on a European tour in late March and will visit France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany. Check out the tours page for dates.
Stream the first single from the album, "Alms For Your Love," here.
Pre-order the album in the EU here.
Elysian Fields will play a concert in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge on September 14, 2013
Supporting is Belgian act Lyenn. The show starts at 7:30pm.
Elysian Fields will perform on Wednesday, August 14 as part of the Socrates Sculpture Park Outdoor Cinema series.
They will perform in front of the screen before a screening of Agnes Varda's The Gleaners And I.
Jennifer and Oren will be accompanied by Hagar Ben Ari (bass) and longtime collaborator Matt Johnson (drums).
The show starts at 7pm and is free of charge. Bring a blanket and sit on the grass!