By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

When you’re looking for an evening’s entertainment, don’t forget to check out the schedule at the Cayuga Vault in Santa Cruz.  Originally built as a bank in 1915, the Cayuga Vault offers a chance to see performances in an intimate setting (it seats only 90 people) with surprisingly good acoustics.  The owners of the venue make it their business to support original music and to provide a diverse program of artists.  On Friday evening, the Cayuga Vault will be hosting a concert by Amelia, a four-piece band from Portland, OR.  Amelia plays a mellow, sinuous blend of jazz and blues with a country tinge. 

Amelia grew out of an alt-country band called The Flatirons.  The Flatirons was a five-piece, comprising guitarists Scott Weddle and Jason Okamoto, bassist Jesse Emerson, drummer Richard Cuellar and singer Wendy Pate.  After releasing one album, 1999’s critically acclaimed “Prayer Bones,” the band dissolved amid a series of disagreements between the members. 

Following the breakup of the Flatirons, Weddle went on to play guitar with his friend Warren Pash, who wrote the Hall & Oates hit “Private Eyes.”  In the summer of 2000, singer Teisha Helgerson attended one of their shows and, during a break, started a conversation with Weddle.  Over drinks, they discussed their respective music careers and Weddle gave Helgerson a copy of the Flatirons’ CD.  She was impressed, and eventually the two got together to play music. 

After a couple of low-key gigs as a duo, Weddle and Helgerson began to realize that they were extremely compatible musically.  Weddle had helped to complete some of Helgerson’s songs and they were very pleased with the results.  He called his old band mates Emerson and Cuellar, and they came by to rehearse some of the songs.  Eventually, the four musicians realized that the songs were worth recording, and so Amelia was born.

Weddle had very particular ideas about who he wanted to produce the recording.  He had been a fan of a Portland band called the Old Joe Clarks, and wanted band leader Mike Coykendall at the mixing desk for Amelia’s recording sessions.  The band booked into Coykendall’s Blue Room Studio, and the result was 2002’s “Somewhere Left to Fall.”  The album received enthusiastic reviews from Portland’s newspapers, and was followed up in 2003 by “After All,” again produced by Coykendall.

Amelia is currently on tour to promote its latest album “Por Avion.”  The album contains live versions of songs from the band’s first two recordings.  Amelia has performed at venues as prestigious as West Virginia’s Mountain Stage, and the current tour sees the band visiting Los Angeles and Seattle as well as several venues around Oregon.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, May 26, 2005

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