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Saturday, March 19 • 11:00pm - Sunday, March 20 •12:00am
Eliza Doolittle

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In the charming video for her first U.S. single, “Rollerblades,” Eliza Doolittle, a lanky, saucer-eyed brunette in a white tank top and denim short shorts, cycles leisurely around New York’s Lower East Side. A boy from her past appears to tie a bunch of bright blue balloons to the back of her bike, disappears, then reappears with her on a sofa on the sidewalk, then evaporates again before reappearing to buy her an Icee, after which Doolittle leaves him in the dust, jumping into a shopping cart with her girlfriends and riding off into a perfect Manhattan afternoon. “The boy in the video is a bit unreliable the way he keeps popping in and out,” Doolittle explains, “so it’s kind of a metaphor for him not knowing what he wants. In the end I realize that I need to move on from that and get on with my life.” If only we could all live in Eliza Doolittle world. The Cass Bird-directed clip, which also shows Doolittle frolicking joyfully in the cooling spray from a busted hydrant, manages another neat trick. It beautifully captures the idyllic feeling of being young and carefree on a summer’s day — a mood that saturates the 22-year-old London-born singer and songwriter’s self-titled debut album, which was released in the U.K. in July and will be released Stateside in 2011. Doolittle has already created a buzz across the Atlantic with her breezy singles “Skinny Genes” and “Pack Up,” the latter of which climbed to No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and has been a mainstay in the Top 10 for months. The album was certified gold in the U.K. within four weeks of its release. The album’s appeal is rooted in Doolittle’s rich, feel-good vibe of the music, which she co-wrote with a host of top-notch songwriters and producers, including Greg Kurstin (Sia), Steve Chrisanthou (Corinne Bailey Rae), the late Jonny $ (Kylie, Massive Attack), and Craigie Dodds (Amy Winehouse). Vintage sounds from the ’60s and ’70s are merrily mined and wed to buoyant melodies informed by classic pop, old soul, ska, folk, and even good old-fashioned barbershop quartet, creating something with a happy-go-lucky retro feel, but still indisputably youthful and fresh. “’Rollerblades was the first song I wrote, and I knew I had something special with the sound,” Doolittle says. “It’s got something to it that I hadn’t quite heard before, so when it came time to write the whole album, I made sure I put my stamp on it with that sound no matter which producer I was working with.” “Pack Up” boldly raids the chorus of the George Henry Powell marching song “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag” and repurposes it to startling effect, creating a dance-hall ode to the joys of being the eternal optimist. “Money Box” is an orchestrated rant against senseless materialism, with Doolittle touchingly insisting “I don’t need no cash machine…all I need’s right here, right here with you my dear.” “Police Car,” a down-tempo lament swaddled in melancholy woodwind, is about Doolittle getting herself in trouble with her bluntness. “I do regret my mouth sometimes,” she says, “but then I think, ‘Well, that’s what I think, it doesn’t matter.’ But maybe I’m still learning!” Her disarming frankness and tart observations are actually her strong suits. “Skinny Genes” is “a cheeky song about a really annoying boy who has no good qualities, except for one really good one,” she says, while “Nobody” dismisses the cheap lure of fame with a simple question: “What’s wrong with being a nobody?” “Everyone's got a dark side, but mine definitely isn't the first thing you notice about me,” she says. “So it was important to me to be in touch with my personality through the music, and I think this album really shows that.” Raised by a piano-playing dad and singing mom, Doolittle has been writing songs since she was 12. “I told my mum that I wanted to be a singer and she told me to start writing because that’s where the money was,” Doolittle says with a laugh. “I love the writing aspect of what I do. That fulfilling feeling of finishing a song is just incredible. It’s like making babies. I mean, I'm sure when I have a real baby it will be a stronger feeling than this, but creating a song is like giving birth. Though perhaps not quite as painful.” Her precocious songwriting talent soon got her noticed, and Doolittle signed a publishing deal at 16. As she matured, her songs began to flower into the magical blooms they are today. Although she is a diehard fan of classic pop, and cites the Beach Boys, The Kinks, and Stevie Wonder as influences, Doolittle doesn’t see herself fitting in to a cut-and-dried pop mold. “I’d like to be a pop musician in the proper old school vein of pop when there weren’t any different genres like there are now; it was all just pop music,” she says. “I just want to write songs people can sing along to. I can’t think of anything more exciting than traveling the world and playing to audiences and having them sing your words with you.”

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Eliza Doolittle

In the charming video for her first U.S. single, “Rollerblades,” Eliza Doolittle, a lanky, saucer-eyed brunette in a white tank top and denim short shorts, cycles leisurely around New York’s Lower East Side. A boy from her past appears to tie a bunch of bright blue balloons... Read More →

Saturday March 19, 2011 11:00pm - Sunday March 20, 2011 12:00am CDT
Cedar Street Courtyard

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