In just about every town, every state and most countries in the world, you’ll find cover bands slogging along, playing regular shows for comparatively very little money, sometimes to very few people. But just because a group isn’t always packing rooms doesn’t necessarily diminish its level of talent. In fact, it’s not rare to stumble upon a set of musicians in a local bar or restaurant that will absolutely floor you, and you’ll find yourself asking, “Why don’t more people know about this band?” One of those hidden treasures is a blues/rock cover band from New Jersey known as The Elevators.
Led by blues harp player Chuck Bravo, The Elevators have been a staple of the NJ/NY bar scene since 2006. Despite several rhythm section line-up changes, Bravo has kept the core alive with an undying passion and love for simply playing music. Not only does Chuck manage and gig regularly with this band, but has performed a number of times with Grammy Nominated blues master Bobby Messano, and can be seen jamming frequently with J. Geils Band alumni Juke Joint Jimmy.
One of Bravo’s many gifts is his ability to recognize talent. And for The Elevators, it all starts with lead vocalist Elaine Tuttle.
Elaine is one of those people that sings because she has to sing. There’s a fire inside of her that is as real as it gets. Whether it’s for one or a thousand, Miss Tuttle brings it every time. For just a little taste, check the video below of The Elevators recently performing the 1966 Sam & Dave hit “Hold On, I’m Coming’.”
The Elevators cover a wide range music, but are heavily influenced by blues/rock artists – from Eric Clapton to The Black Crowes to Led Zeppelin – and Elaine slays it all. She’s one of the few that possess that undefinable quality that is indicative of a true artist, and is what those in the biz call a “lifer” – keeping a steady schedule with other bands – including premiere tri-state area band Alive N’ Kickin, a weekly gig with Jazz-influenced outfit Body & Soul, and several other semi-regular projects.
Some of the best guitar players in the history of rock music have been the ones that could “sing” with their guitar. David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton are a few that come to mind. The Elevators are gifted with a man that can play in that same league with guitarist Dan Gormley.
The Elevators choose songs for their shows that lend themselves well to improvisational jamming, and Dan is among the best there is in actually saying something with his instrument. His perfect intonation, impeccable groove, and respect for space make Dan an integral part of what makes The Elevators shine.
Elaine isn’t the only girl that can carry a tune in this group. Known to perfectly nail the vocals of Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi and more, Donna “Dee” Gebbia provides the melodic foundation for the band with an incredible flair for improvisation as well as killer keyboard tones and a highly skilled knowledge of music. The professionalism and maturity that Dee adds to the band is irreplaceable, and is a huge part of what makes The Elevators tick.
As mentioned above, The Elevators have had a lot of drummers and bass players come and go – but the current rhythm section is just as qualified as any other that have preceded them. Bassist Teri Avella and drummer Debby Maggiulli are both veterans of the live music scene and provide a solid backbone as well as their own improvisational skills to support an already amazing lineup of musicians.
Skill, professionalism, and most of all, passion and love for music are the true key ingredients in what makes up a successful band. The unrelenting drive of The Elevators epitomizes what many musicians strive to achieve. When it’s primarily about the music, about having a good time, and making sure everyone in the room is included in the celebration, you can never go wrong. The Elevators are one to learn from and pay attention to, and they’re not going away anytime soon.