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Up the Funk

The Elena Leona Project (ELP) is sizzle, spice and everything nice. Like the lovechild of Lauren Hill and Etta James, this band is funky.

ELP started in Eugene and has been performing at local venues for a few years. The band has undergone several makeovers (switching out some band members here and there) since the beginning, but Elena Leona (lead vocals) says, “This feels like the right group.” 

Contagiously excitable, Leona’s personality shines through in her amazing vocal control. In the length of one song, she’ll go from rap to velvety vocals, to jazz scat and belting out downright incredible notes. Will Brack keeps the time on drums while John Brewer (guitar) and Zach Rousch (bass) move fluidly between slow blues and fast jazz melodies. 

“Our sound is urban groove,” Leona says, “a sound that is something for everyone.” 

ELP has a strong community focus as well. Leona says they’ve been working on putting together a show for the Boys and Girls Club of Emerald Valley and recently played at a Bags of Love charity event. She points out that the band gets inspiration from this quirky little town, too — “First Cup of Coffee” was inspired by her first cup of morning joe via Dutch Bros. 

The band has plans to buckle down and grind out its first EP this winter, Leona says, and until then it will just up the funk level around town (musically, that is). 

ELP will be performing 6 pm Wednesday, July 13, at WildCraft Cider Works, 390 Lincoln Street; FREE. — Kelsey Anne Rankin