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Grey Eye Glances at Triumph

This article Richard J. Skelly was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on February 17, 1999. All rights reserved.

= Jennifer Nobel, the lead singer for Grey Eye Glances,

a five-member folk-rock ensemble based in Cherry Hill, says the

group’s

grassroots approach to promotion and marketing is finally starting

to pay dividends. Nobel, a 1990 Rutgers College graduate, believes

in letting things happen organically, naturally. The band got its

start in 1992 at a Borders bookstore in Marlton, where organist Dwayne

Keith worked a day job. Other members include Eric O’Dell on bass

and vocals, Brett Kull on acoustic and electric guitars, and Paul

Ramsey, drums and percussion.

Within two years of their formation — initially as a trio —

the band was playing at Borders all over the northeast. More recently,

since a major label deal with Mercury Records came about in 1996,

the band’s itineraries have included places like Myrtle Beach, S.C.,

Chicago, and Michigan.

"The main thing is just to get back to the same cities and keep

reminding people that we’re coming to town," says Nobel,

explaining

the band’s promotional approach from her home in Cherry Hill.

"It’s been a grassroots approach — just Bill Eib, our manager,

and the three of us," she says, adding that manager Eib has been

with the band since they started performing together in 1992.

At the Borders in Marlton, keyboardist Keith thought it would be a

great idea to bring more live music in to the store. "He wanted

to have some bands in — you know, groups with drums — and

we were a band. It worked out really well, it allowed us to tour the

whole Eastern Seaboard, and yet it was basically the same venue

everywhere

we went," Nobel explains.

"When people want to get out but they have kids it’s difficult.

Our shows were sort of a night on the town for a family with kids.

And the fact that it was a retail environment didn’t hurt us at

all,"

she adds, noting it helped the band sell CDs.

In 1993, the band released "Songs of Leaving," an

independently-produced

debut that got them noticed by WXPN-FM, a listener-supported radio

station based at the University of Pennsylvania. They followed up

in 1994 with the album "Further On." WXPN became a champion

of the band, playing both their two independently-released CDs.

"WXPN played the first two albums before we got signed and that

allowed us to build a fan base in the Philadelphia area," says

the former Rutgers political science major. Both CDs were financed

by Nobel, who worked a day job in accounting at a large company (which

she declines to identify) in south Jersey.

Mercury Records executives attended several live shows, saw the fan

base the band had built in Philadelphia, and thought it could be

transported

to other cities. A record contract resulted. The band’s first CD for

Mercury, "Eventide," drew critical praise from reviewers at

USA Today and several national music magazines. The band’s second

CD for Mercury, "Painted Pictures" was released last year.

Hot spots for the band, in addition to Philadelphia, include Chicago,

Boston, and more recently, Washington, D.C., Nobel says. The band

knows where they’re getting the most air play, so they’re

concentrating

on building their followings in those cities.

Nobel, Keith, and O’Dell began performing together in

the privacy of their homes while all three were still in college.

"I grew up just singing around the house, not even in choirs or

anything until high school," says Nobel. "At that point, a

lot of my friends were going away on a trip to Europe and my band

director in high school asked me if I wanted to try out for it, so

I did."

"I made it and we went to Europe and that’s how I met Dwayne

[Keith],

who was in a chorus from another high school. We became really great

friends and it wasn’t until we were all in college that we started

to play together."

Asked about vocal influences, Nobel says she has five older siblings,

so she heard a wide spectrum of music around the house.

"Dwayne grew up with a lot of classical music, but I listened

to everything from the Beatles to Kate Bush to Billy Joel, Jackson

Browne, and the Beach Boys. Once we started working with [guitarist

and drummer] Brett and Paul, our music took on whole new perspectives,

so it’s been a lot of fun bringing all these different influences

into the music," she adds.

"Painted Pictures" reflects the band’s natural, home-grown

eclecticism: there’s a folk-rock tune, "Sleepy," more

pop-oriented

fare, "Remember This" and "Perfect Plan," and even

a few harder-edged alternative rock tunes.

Grey Eye Glances has not performed at Triumph Brewery before, Nobel

says, but their tours in the last three years have included plenty

of theaters as well as more than a few smoky bar rooms, so the band

is ready for anything.

Grey Eye Glances has been called folk-rock and folk-rock pop, but

Nobel points out the band will also play blues and jazz-tinged

numbers.

"We’ve been compared with everyone from Fleetwood Mac to 10,000

Maniacs," Nobel says, when asked to put a label on the band’s

sound. "We do lots of harmonies," she says, pausing to

consider

a label. "But we’re a little more rough-edged than Fleetwood

Mac."

For an audience member unfamiliar with the band, what could he or

she expect at the Triumph show?

"They can expect a fun, laid-back show," says Nobel.

"Dwayne

builds a great rapport with the audience. All of these guys have a

great sense of humor. I spend a lot of time laughing with this band.

We have a really good time at our shows and I think our audiences

have a great time as well. It’s not an angst-ridden kind of

alternative

rock band. We enjoy watching people have a good time with us."

— Richard J. Skelly

Grey Eye Glances, Triumph Brewing, 138 Nassau

Street, 609-924-7855. The band of five on tour. Friday, February

19, 8:30

p.m.


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