Ordinary Elephant & Alisa Amador

Monday, June 20, 2022
Door 6pm Show 7pm
$10 to $125

This is a seated concert. All general admission tickets are seated on a first come first serve basis. 
Table for 4 does include barstools to sit at with your cocktail table.
NSA Ticket-these are exclusive to our Newberry Sound Association members, see link for more information. https://thenewberrymt.com/sound-association/

“Keep kind all that rises from your chest to your tongue. Don’t ever let your words undo the work you’ve done,” sings Crystal Damore on “Worth the Weight,” a song that beats at the heart of Ordinary Elephant's potent new album, Honest. In the song, it's a two-line enjoinder from an adult to a kid. In life, though, it's a mission statement for ourselves as much as for others. And the work that Crystal, along with her husband Pete, has done on Honest is both filled with kindness and worthy of praise.

Interestingly, if not ironically, in order to accomplish this new work, Crystal and Pete had to set aside the work they'd done previously, as a veterinary cardiologist and a computer programmer, respectively. The two met at an open mic in College Station, Texas, in 2009 and soon moved to Houston together. With her on acoustic guitar/lead vocals and him on clawhammer banjo/harmony vocals, the work of music continued on the side as both had full-time jobs, until they threw all caution to the wind and hit the road in an RV.

Leaving the stability of a day job and the security of a career didn't come easily for Crystal. “It took a lot of time — and help from Pete — for me to get to the point that I was okay with leaving the career I spent my whole life in school working toward, to the degree that I was leaving it,” she admits, adding, “to be okay with the fact that it may not be what other people want, but it was what I needed, and that was the important part.”

Bitten by the creative bug at an early age, Crystal had set most of that aside to focus on school and work: “Living on the road, before doing music full-time, gave my creative side the breathing room it need to come back out.”

And, boy, has it ever come out now that they've both committed fully to Ordinary Elephant. In song after Honest song, the Damores take on what it means to follow your heart and eschew all the expectations, assumptions, and limitations projected upon you by others. They also use their own life experience to point out that the “safe” route can be anything but safe, as they do in “Rust Right Through.”

“I had a safe job and was on a safe life trajectory, financially,” Crystal says, “but those things were like a safety rail you reach for — a habit, a comfortable familiarity... something you’re expected to reach for. I was letting those things hold me up instead of learning to stand on my own. And one day, down the road, I would retire, and that job and those people who I thought I needed to please, would fall away, and I’d be left with me, not having lived the life I truly wanted or felt called to. That is not safe to my well-being.”

Another track that takes aim at playing it safe is the spirited bounce of “Jenny & James.” It's the story of an interracial couple, though, really, it's the story of any non-traditional couple targeted with shunning and shaming for being in love. As Crystal notes, “The 'safe' route of pairing up with someone of your same race and opposite gender is not safe to the well-being of many.”

The choices we make are not always easy or safe, but they are important. The songs on Honest speak, again and again, to being our truest, best selves, no matter who we are or where we come from. Indeed, every of us has a heritage, a legacy, a story, of which we are a part, for better and for worse. Each moment and memory a lesson leading us to who we will be.

The album's spunky opener, “I Come From,” looks back at the things in our upbringing that are worth holding on to. The more sober “Scars We Keep,” on the other hand, tosses out the things that must be cast aside. In it, Crystal sings, “These times are hard, and it’s harder to heal, when where you were born decides what you fear. It’s time to be a brother, not my father’s son. I was born to be a bigot, but that don’t mean that I am one.”

As Pete explains, “Detangling tradition from any particular negative aspect is complicated, and sometimes impossible. But it's necessary to change the tradition for it to live on and, hopefully, preserve its core as our culture tries to correct its failings.”

Pete grew up in Austin, Texas, in a big Italian family who gathered for big Italian meals, and he's quick to admit that we all live in bubbles of our own making or choosing. “I can only imagine growing up in a toxic environment,” he offers. “Without the perspective gained from travel and experiencing other cultures, it's nearly impossible to realize how toxic your world actually is. I can't fault anybody not overcoming. I'm not in their shoes. I know I can't change them by telling them they're wrong, but I do know that people can change when they see new things.”

People can also change when they hear new things, as a fan did when Ordinary Elephant played “Scars We Keep” on the main stage at Kerrville Folk Festival in 2018. Around 2 am, a man walked up to them in the campground, tears in his eyes, and said, “I want to thank you for that song you did tonight ... You changed my point of view.” Their response: “That is why we do this. Songs speak, and they can heal.”

Songs can also draw our attention to people and problems that we might not otherwise notice, as in “The War,” which takes on both the travesty of what war does to service members and the tragedy of what society does to returning veterans. It also connects the dots between different kinds of trauma and loss. For the song's protagonist, the war never ended.

“It caused him to lose his significant other, his home, his ability to maintain a job, and drove him to become an alcoholic,” Crystal says of the character. “The narrator represents the majority of the population, in that he does not know, first-hand, the experience of war, but the story shows him having compassion for this veteran and understanding that some choices are made for you and this can lead to an inability to make good choices for yourself down the line.”

Much like Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch, taking on the male perspective as a female singer/songwriter is something that Crystal does with ease and equanimity, though the reverse is not something that happens very often. Pete theorizes that, “In a historically male-dominated world, there's not been a lot of practice on the male side of idolizing women, or even being encouraged to empathize with their situations. Also, the expectation for men to be masculine is tightly woven through our culture and the everyday lives of men. A hesitation, conscious or not, would certainly present itself before performing a song on a big stage that's overtly from a female perspective, especially for a man who's not very secure.”

For Crystal, though, it's just about telling the story in the truest, kindest way. “I think part of it could also have to do with empathy,” she says, adding, “and empathy can take the form of telling someone else’s story in song, no matter what gender that person is.”

Which brings us back to “Worth the Weight” and its stunning chorus: “You will wonder if it’s worth the weight, the worry that wears you down. Half your life spent figuring out how to make the other half count.” Honest is worth so much more than its weight, and Ordinary Elephant makes every kind word count as it rises from their chests to their tongues.


Alisa Amador is a connector. Her upcoming EP, Narratives, is a six-song snapshot in time. It’s a deep look at a person stumbling through life in two languages — English and Spanish — and in many states of mind about it all. Alisa’s crystal-clear vocals are so effortless throughout Narratives that it’s almost easy to forget how technically talented she is, until she moves from almost-spoken-word territory to a powerful chorus without hesitation or illustrates a repetitive refrain that’s so affecting it feels like you might want to live inside it for a little while.

“The word ‘narratives’ encompasses not only the existing cultural messages that hurt people individually and collectively,” she says, “but also the revolutionary power of writing ourselves new narratives; rejecting a culture of fear; and catalyzing a culture of honesty, bravery and self-love in the process.”

Alisa has been learning these lessons since she began performing as a backup singer for her parents’ bilingual Latin folk band Sol y Canto at age five. This is where her ease with performing comes from; she and her twin brother grew up touring extensively with their parents’ band. Through their high school years, Alisa and her twin were often crammed into a minivan or backstage, loading in and out, and passing time by making styrofoam puppets out of coffee cups and stirrers.

Alisa began playing classical guitar at age 10, inspired by her father, and eventually found the electric guitar a decade later. The new instrument was versatile enough to honor her many influences and styles. “I was 19, and playing it felt like coming home.” When listening to Alisa’s music, her time spent immersed in Latin folk and jazz is undoubtedly present in her own songs, written in both English and Spanish. But there is also pop, funk, soul, and something uniquely her own. Alisa’s specialty is sparking connection, across both listeners and musical styles.

Alisa has been learning these lessons since she began performing as a backup singer for her parents’ bilingual Latin folk band Sol y Canto at age five. This is where her ease with performing comes from; she and her twin brother grew up touring extensively with their parents’ band. Through their high school years, Alisa and her twin were often crammed into a minivan or backstage, loading in and out, and passing time by making styrofoam puppets out of coffee cups and stirrers.

Alisa began playing classical guitar at age 10, inspired by her father, and eventually found the electric guitar a decade later. The new instrument was versatile enough to honor her many influences and styles. “I was 19, and playing it felt like coming home.” When listening to Alisa’s music, her time spent immersed in Latin folk and jazz is undoubtedly present in her own songs, written in both English and Spanish. But there is also pop, funk, soul, and something uniquely her own. Alisa’s specialty is sparking connection, across both listeners and musical styles.

“Some musicians really love recording music, even more than performing,” she says. “I feel most at home, and most purposeful, when I am performing live.” Working with producer Daniel Radin (The Novel Ideas, Future Teens), Narratives concentrates on the journey of Alisa’s live set, taking listeners through songs that may elicit a laugh, bring introspection, offer a cathartic cry or encourage a sing-along. The genre-bending EP is as empowering as it is heart-wrenching. These songs might break your heart open, but by the end, it will be mended, uplifted and stronger.

Album opener “Timing” is a familiar tale of romantic uncertainty, accompanied by an irresistible horn section recorded remotely with all ambient sounds left in the mix. “Slow Down” was a healing exercise, meant to give a name to the chaos of what was happening around Alisa: navigating strained work relationships, an endless to-do list and wishing there were a few more hours in the day to figure it all out.

Intentionally sparse in its arrangement, “Burnt and Broken” examines myriad systems of oppression. “Violence stems from fear, and fear grows from a lack of understanding,” Alisa says. “An absence of a conversation around these violences causes such pain.” Fellow singer-songwriters Hayley Sabella and Kaiti Jones sing harmonies on the song. “It was as if we were standing among the wreckage, singing with broken hearts and hot anger pulsing through us.”

“Alone” is a three-and-a-half-minute dissertation on the importance of committing to self-love with abandon. “After witnessing so many friends deem their worth from their perceived ‘desirability’ by a predominantly male gaze, and realizing I was thinking that way too, I wrote the thesis statement chorus: ‘Alone isn’t all that lonesome when you’ve got some love in store, alone, you’ll never be lost if you’re the one you’re looking for.’”

“Nada que ver” is entirely in Spanish, a love song written when Alisa was tired of writing love songs. “I was tired of having feelings for someone, tired of all the confusion, and very wary of opening myself up to somebody new,” she says. “Spanish is the language closest to my heart, and the language of some of my most vulnerable writing. This song is me bargaining with love. Stating clearly what I want and naming my qualms.” The minor 2nd at the end of each verse is intentionally at odds with the lyrics, illustrating the tension of wanting to be open but being too jaded to trust.

“Together” wraps up the EP with a salve for the heart, acknowledging the pain and celebrating the revolutionary power of friendship amidst any and all odds. “Perhaps the world will always be breaking,” Alisa says. “And, it is our purpose on earth to be putting it back together again, together. If it weren’t for the moments of connection in my life, I don’t know how I would survive.”

Narratives finds Alisa looking at life and this moment in time, searching through lessons for a more just and loving future. She crosses throughout all the genres her work encompasses, with an intention to create a common shared space between herself and those listening, acknowledging the way each of our specific stories fit into something bigger. “If human connection is a prism, this album is lifting it up to the light, and looking at it from many angles.”

“These songs are a reflection of the world I am moving through, with all of its joy, its sorrow, its confusion and its rage. Each song is a processing of personal experience, framed within my larger cultural backdrop of New Englander, Latinx, cis-gendered woman, young adult, twin, daughter and so on. I’m just trying to create a space for myself and all my conflicting identities to fit in, and it seems like I’m helping listeners feel the same way in the process.”