Minnesota musician returns home to perform
By Ashley White
Minnesota native and singer/songwriter John Elliott won't say he's made it big -- yet. But with five albums, an international following and featured spots on Prime Time television shows like "Grey's Anatomy," most people would say he already has.
This Friday, Willmar area residents can catch Elliott perform live at 7 p.m. at Whitney Music on North Business 71 in Willmar. He'll present an acoustic concert with his guitar and a piano, and the audience can even expect a sing-along at some point.
Elliott, a native of Plymouth, said he is "more happy than you can imagine" about returning to his native roots and performing again for the people of Minnesota. He moved out to California in 2001 to pursue a career in music, and nine years later, he's still enjoying the opportunity to make a living from his passion.
"I can't wait to come back to Minnesota," Elliott said. "I miss it and I love it."
His music has been described by others as "tear at your heartstrings," "folksy" and "surreal and trippy," Elliott said. At some point, one of his friends labeled his music "eyebrow rock," and the description seemed to stick, even though Elliott can't explain it.
"I have no idea what that means," he said. "Describing music in words is a strange thing. 'Eyebrow rock' makes as much sense as anything I could come up with."
Elliott also plays with a band, The Hereafter, which has become an "ever-evolving project," he said. Currently, the band consists of Elliott on vocals, Mike Schadel on drums, Mike Wendland on guitar and Colin Warling on bass.
"I hope these guys stick around for a while because it's the best line-up of the band yet," Elliott said. "We all get along so well."
The band has released three albums so far, and Elliott has released two of his own as a solo performer. Over the last few years, The Hereafter has also seen a few of its songs featured on episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and "One Tree Hill." People across the world have now heard his songs played on these popular television shows, Elliott said.
"It's been great for exposure, and I'm very fortunate that way," he said. "People in China know my music. That never ceases to amaze me."
Elliott has already accomplished a lot by anyone's standards, but he's not quitting anytime soon. The Hereafter is in the process of putting the final touches on their next album, which Elliott calls "big and rocking." He's not certain when the new CD will be released, but it should be sometime this year.
"We are in the midst of doing final mixes on the new album, so that's the big project that's coming up," Elliott said.
"Not sure yet how it's going to go, but I love the album and I can't wait for people to hear it."
Bob Whitney, co-owner of Whitney Music, said Elliott's show on Friday will be "original."
"He has kind of a fresh approach to things," Whitney said. "He's a one-man show, but he does different instrumentation. It will be a nice variety."
Elliott has worked hard for his achievements in the music industry, but he still remains humble and attributes his success to luck more than anything.
"All the hard work had to happen first for the luck to turn into anything, I guess," he said. "I haven't made it big, but I have managed to make a living. You don't choose to play music, it seems to choose you. So if that's the case, you really don't have a choice in the matter."
At a glance:
John Elliott, a native of Minnesota, performs Friday at 7 p.m. at Whitney Music in Willmar. The concert alone costs $10, and the Concert, Croissant Combo & Coffee starts at 6 p.m. and costs $15.
You can buy The Hereafter or Elliott's music on iTunes, or by checking out the band's website, http://www.thehearafterishere.com