Spotlight: Elias Haslanger

Thursday, March 14, 12:30am, Elephant Room

Spotlight: Elias Haslanger

It's been a good year for native Austinite and tenor saxophonist Elias Haslanger. His self-released album, Church on Monday, has taken his hometown by storm, earning rave reviews across the board locally and garnering national airplay. Best of all, it's given rise to the LP's smokin' quintet, now a steadily working band. With Dr. James Polk on B-3 organ and Jake Langley on guitar, their Monday night residency at the Continental Club Gallery remains a must-see weekly event.

"This project was more a concept than a band," says Haslanger. "It was influenced by Stanley Turrentine's 1964 Blue Note album, Hustlin', and once I had in mind what the particular sound should be, the personnel came together naturally.

"I've worked with Dr. Polk for years and knew he loved to play the organ but rarely had the opportunity. I was less familiar with Jake but knew he'd spent years on the road with Joey DeFrancesco. Once I heard him play, it was obvious he would be ideal."

The band revels in a swingin', soulful, blues-drenched sound that's infectious.

"Now that we're getting national exposure on the radio, especially in cities like Chicago, I'd love to take these guys out on the road," enthuses the South by Southwest veteran.

"This will be my 13th or 14th year. I loved the early years of the Festival, but as it got bigger and bigger, I became jaded. Hearing that some bands were getting paid to play, I wasn't satisfied with just the exposure anymore. As my father told me, 'You can die of exposure,'" chuckles Haslanger.

"But I was immature and shortsighted. Now I think SXSW is great! I get to play for folks who would not hear my music otherwise. And it's been great for Austin, too. I've really come full circle."

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