303 Magazine

Aural Elixir — “I Like Coffee!”

Listen if you like Sara Bareilles.

If you need caffeine to get you through your day, then you’ll definitely enjoy this little love ballad about coffee from Aural Elixir. The video for “I Like Coffee!” was in NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest for 2018 and highlights singer, Jesse Maclaine’s soft and jazz-folk voice along with unique percussion like cans, glasses and barrels. This video is sure to brighten your day with the upbeat piano, Maclaine’s infectious smile and the fun-going bloopers at the end. Find the band here.

Denver Voice

Last year saw the highest number of homeless deaths ever recorded in the Denver metro area—at least 231 people died while homeless in 2017. That number accounts for the dates of January 1 to November 28, a 35 percent increase from last year, where 171 names were read at the annual “We Will Remember” memorial vigil. 

The actual amount of deaths is higher and unknown. 

“There’s so many silent voices that are not accounted for. This is just a snapshot into what we’re experiencing in the community,” said Meredith Ritchie, communications manager at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Every December 21, the longest night of the year, the Coalition holds a ceremony on the steps of the Denver City and County Building to honor these people by speaking their names. The typically festive building silences its bright holiday lights for the duration of the event. 

Last month, on the 28th remembrance ceremony, about 200 people came out, doubling the previous year despite the light flurries and below freezing temperatures. These friends, community members, and staff from the Coalition uttered “We will remember” after every name listed in the bulletin, plus at least  six more called out by friends at the end.

Despite free hot chocolate and cookies and bundles of socks, hats, and gloves, the gravity of lives lost weighed on the attendees and performers alike. Sirens wailed ironically during the eulogy, and Aural Elixir’s voice, which wove beauty throughout the event, broke as she sang “Somewhere over the rainbow” post-name reading....

Offbeat Magazine

Nearly two decades on, Jesse Maclaine is the sole remaining member of the Colorado-based jazz-folk band Aural Elixir. Their latest release serves as a showcase for the act’s main draw: Maclaine’s powerhouse vocals.

The de facto leader of this trio can’t help but bring to mind standard bearers of the ’90s coffee shop sound—angry and vulnerable mystics like Alanis and Fiona who shouted prayers over their own forceful piano hammering—as she belts in a way that would lift the roof off of any espresso hole that hosted her.

That being said, Maclaine and the rest of Elixir are a little too in love with cheekiness to occupy the same sphere as those latter-day Liliths. A little levity doesn’t hurt, but tracks like “I Like Coffee!” are little more than T-shirt slogans stretched over three and a half minutes. Sandwiched between anthems of escape like “A Way Away” and the affirmational “Perhaps,” it can’t help but have the opposite effect of the band’s favorite brew.

While Maclaine doesn’t possess the same gift for wordplay as the artists she references, the straightforward cuts like the title track and album closer “When Will I See You Again?” show the power of simple statements said with conviction.



Thrive With Hope (blog)

...Jesse hugged me with the biggest bundle of compassion. I can still feel her warm heart squeezing her love into me.

“Thank you for helping us,” I said. She handed me her music CD with her contact information and asked me to call her later so she could check on us. That evening I called to let her know everything was ok and thank her again. 

People are good.

9-1-1 failed us in our immediate need, but the strangers, Jesse and Charles, didn’t.


out of 5 stars! Terrific new CD from Aural Elixir! (Review of Partially Domesticated Amazon: Exposed!)
Aural Elixir - Jesse Maclaine and friends -- always comes up with fresh, insightful, soulful, and eclectic mixes of highly creative tunes. Check out a few from the sample list below, and then get this CD! Fun, heartfelt, energizing energy throughout.

No Depression

"She's so amazing!" Aural Elixir's original song "Ask Your Angels" was featured in the popular podcast Best Radio You've Never Heard - Flight Case Vol. 255, compiled, mixed, and edited by Perry Bax. 

NOLA Defender

Featured in Defender Picks!

Jesse Maclaine, Margie Perez, and Johnny Vidacovich are at Café Istanbul tonight for the Aquarian Birthday/Costume Party. Aural Elixir is Jesse Maclaine’s solo act, but she often plays with other local greats. Maclaine finds a middle ground between strong and spaced out vocals only adding to her eclectic jazz/rock/folk sound.

The Marquee

"Originally formed in New Orleans, the Denver-based Aural Elixir still holds true to the Big Easy’s more sultry jazz traditions."

New Orleans' Offbeat Magazine

Aural Elixir, Partially Domesticated Amazon Exposed, album cover

On their fifth album since the late ’90s, this “rock-folk-jazz fusion” collective, which at one time featured Lynn Drury, has by now pared itself down to a jazz trio format, complete with upright bass and Johnny Vidacovich sitting in on drums. It puts the spotlight solely on remaining original member Jesse Maclaine and her unusual fusion of strong-yet-spacey female singer-songwriters: Joni Mitchell’s sly and perceptive confessional meets Fiona Apple’s confrontational doomed romantic, with little hints of Tori Amos’ gonzo earth mother and Carole King’s practical warmth.

...like Joni, she swoops and dives and repeats rushed phrases,..Her voice is expressive, and her lyrics can be engaging...“You Don’t Need That Pill” is as direct and tough as its title, while the nicely sardonic “All Friends Here” is just hardheaded enough to form a nice contrast with its upbeat stroll... Working some honest-to-goodness New Orleans piano tradition into “We’re All Millionaires” lets some air into her vision: “I can’t wait ’till I’m a millionaire / I’m gonna show the whole world how to care about each other … I’m gonna give it away / Well, most of it, anyway.”

NOLA Defender

Lynn Drury, Alex McMurray, Johnny Vidacovich, Andrew Wolf, violinist Jane Uitti and Aural Elixir herself, Jesse Maclaine come together for the Maclaine’s fifth album, Partially Domesticated Amazon: Exposed! Celebrate in costume with snacks from Fatoush, and prizes for the best outfits. The party theme is myths and ancient cultures.

Online, www.feedtheband.org

AURAL ELIXIR - a tonic for the heart.

Jesse Maclaine, her piano, and sympathetic musical backing is what makes Aural Elixir a strong offering. "ONE" starts the set and it's a good song. The piano runs, the little twinkling keys. Lyrics that sound great when sung. These aren't typical singer songwriter lyrics but they are affecting poetry and full of imagery - well put together. Her voice dominates " BLURRY " above and beyond her already impressive piano work. A wonderful song, the type of song that's likely to send a chill right up your spine. Over all the music is stripped down, and primitive but within a slightly more accessible song structure."Joint Effort" is a fun song, like the rest of the tunes: repeat playable, certainly. MB 4/2/2007


Offbeat Magazine

"These artistic auteurs paint musical pictures both delightfully impressionistic and happily expressionistic."

Offbeat Music Magazine

"This is music from a big kitchen. Aural Elixir's low-key, jazzy folk recalls the Roches attention to vocal textures, speaking half a line then completing it melodically, then fluttering the next thought. ..like sharing jokes and stories on a Thursday night while making dinner and getting drunk on red wine."

Offbeat Music Magazine

When musicians record music, their hope is that listeners will be awed by their compositions’ melodies and riffs, blown away by the lead guitarist’s deconstruction of Django Reinhardt, left speechless by the surreptitious sampling of the Soft Machine, enraptured by the contrapuntal references to Timi Yuro. And sometimes, the best that musicians can expect is that folks will play their CDs while waxing the floors and obliterating mildew in the shower stall.


Take the case of Aural Elixir (led by vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist/trumpeter Jesse Holt) and its Love & Grappling album, recorded at RCA Studio B in Nashville, the same place where Elvis Presley once cut “Blue Christmas.” “I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about our CD,” explains Ms. Holt. “Everyone seems to like it. The biggest response I get is that the CD is good music for cleaning your house.”


The members of Aural Elixir are from everywhere but here: Jesse Holt, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, arrived in New Orleans in 1995, accompanied by Aural bassist Jim Ankar, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Lynn Drury is from Picayune, Mississippi, and drummer Dylan “Sticks” Hicks is a Chicagoan who came to New Orleans to pursue a degree in Jazz Studies at UNO, under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis.


Music attracted Jesse to New Orleans although not necessarily the music of say, Professor Longhair or “Tuts” Washington: “The first time I came to New Orleans, in ’93, to see Smashing Pumpkins at the State Palace Theatre, I was really into Smashing Pumpkins but when I got here and saw the city, it totally diminished the concert for me because New Orleans was amazing! Growing up in Florida, I had never heard of Mardi Gras. There’s nowhere like New Orleans. I like walking around, just looking at all the old things.


“I don’t think I would write as many songs if I lived anywhere else. New Orleans has the constant stimulation of art and music and culture. It makes me want to write.


“I write songs all the time. I get snippets of ideas while I’m walking through the French Quarter or driving. I do most of my writing while I’m actually sitting at a piano in my house or at someone else’s house. On the song “Wastin’ My Wantin’,” I had this old car—a turbo-diesel Volvo—and this guy ran a stop sign and wrecked my car. I was really attached to the car. The song is a poem I wrote about the car and then I put it to music.”


Precipitation has proved to be another inspirational force: “When I wrote ‘Muse Me,’ it was raining. For some reason, I usually write better in the rain. I had the chord progression in my mind and then I started free-writing—it was just there. It was weird—it’s not often you can just free-write and half an hour later, you’ve got three verses of a song. Sweet! It’s like I was asking for the muse to come because I wanted to write a song. I was sitting in the rain, under a patio, and I was writing this poem, asking the muse for a song. After I was done writing the poem, I thought ‘Wait—my request is a song!’ It was kind of magical.”


About the band’s name, blame it on the original Mother of Invention: “Frank Zappa is one of my ultimate heroes and he made this movie called 200 Motels. There’s a running joke in it about elixirs—how you get this fabulous elixir, good for everything, put it on your car, on your toothbrush, clean your clothes with it. I had that idea and I knew I wanted it to be some type of elixir. I like the concept of having an elixir, which is healing and usually liquid, combined with the word aural, which means for your ears.”


Elixirs, of a Turkish variety, dominate Jesse’s daylight hours. She works as a waitress at the Midnight Express, owned by Fatma and Suleyman Aydin, two of Aural Elixir’s biggest fans and the providers of Turkish treats for the band’s recent CD Release Party at Tipitina’s (where the band will return on July 11).


What’s the coolest Turkish elixir? Jesse suggests Cacik (pronounced Jajik): “It’s like a yogurt-based soup with fresh garlic, dill and cucumbers. In Turkey, it’s really hot over there—they just get cups of ice with Cacik, a little olive oil, and fresh herbs on top, and walk around and drink it. It’s really refreshing and super healthy. I’m learning Turkish word by word. I can say Hello, Goodbye, bread and a couple of other food-related items. Tourists think I’m Turkish.”

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Feb 5, 2020
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New Orleans LA
Feb 19, 2020
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Denver CO
Feb 26, 2020
The Mercury Cafe
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