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Ordinary Elephant brings new music to Ripton

RIPTON — On Saturday, May 4, The Ripton Community Coffee House will host International Folk Music Award-Winner’s Ordinary Elephant at the Ripton Community House. This will also be the evening that RCCH celebrates its 24th anniversary.
Ordinary Elephant captivates audiences with their emotionally powerful and vulnerable songs, letting the listener know that they are not alone in this world. The collaboration of husband and wife Pete and Crystal Damore, their connection, and their influences (such as Gillian Welch, Guy Clark and Anaïs Mitchell) all meet on stage.
Their new album, “Honest,” was recorded in Nashville with producer Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Sam Baker). Nashville studio staples Will Kimbrough (guitar) and Michael Rinne (bass) tastefully contribute only what is needed, letting the songs speak for themselves.
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 with Pete continuing to work full-time in tech.
“I had a safe job and was on a safe life trajectory, financially,” Crystal said, “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.”
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.”
Come open your eyes and celebrate 24 glorious years of The Ripton Community Coffee House, next Saturday. An open mic will kick off the evening at 7:30 p.m. followed by the featured performers. Tickets: $10 general admission, $15 generous admission, $3 kids under 12. Doors open at 7:00. To sign up for the open mic call (802) 388-9782 or email rcchfolks@gmail.com.

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