BY SANDRA SPEROUNES
Spaghetti westerns, Memphis honky tonks and the open road form the backbone of El Niven & The Alibi’s next record.
The Edmonton duo is currently working on a full-length debut filled with southern twang, tender melodies, and stompin’ rhythms at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver. Helming the production are two of Canada’s finest musical outlaws: Juno winner Clayton Bellamy (The Roadhammers, Clayton Bellamy & The Congregation, Black Mountain Whisky Rebellion) and CCMA winner Mitch Merrett (Aaron Pritchett, Chad Brownlee).
Over the last two years, El Niven & The Alibi have played more than 400 shows across western Canada, the U.S. and South America — including Beaumont Roots n Blues Fest, Come By The Hills Festival, Pigeon Lake Music Festival and K-Days. They also completed a one-week residency in Taganga, Colombia; a one-month residency in Memphis, TN; and an “Amerika Or Busk” summer tour with filmmaker Travis Nesbitt. They covered more than 10,000 kilometres, throwing impromptu street parties in New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles and cities along the way.
“I got into music because I wasn’t the happiest kid growing up,” says singer/guitarist Elliot Niven. “I was a troubled teenage alcoholic who was always kicked out of school and out of my parents’ house. I was constantly in trouble with the law. I was completely disconnected. Music was always what I ended up gravitating to, and at the right times, it made me feel connected.
“After I finally, on some level, sobered up and learned how to play and started writing and performing, I felt like I could connect with others and hopefully give back a piece of the magic that music gave me.”
In 2018, El Niven & The Alibi’s single, Next To Me, was nominated for Country Song of the Year and Adult Contemporary Recording of the Year at the Edmonton Music Awards.
The duo, also starring drummer Jeff Burwash, released their first self-titled EP, produced by Brian Moncarz (Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party, The Rival Sons), in 2017. But Niven and Burwash have performed together for more than 10 years. Their previous project was signed to Cadence Music, winning Indie Week 2014, and toured extensively through the U.S. and UK.