• 12/01/2017
    Mill 180 Park - Easthatmpton, MA
  • 12/31/2017
    Northampton First Night 2018 - Northampton, MA

Mercifully Brief Bio

Quick Pitch

Based in Western Massachusetts, folk duo Austin & Elliott perform their "fun original take on folk" (CBS Boston's Best Singer-Songwriters) on stages around their native Northeast. Their songs tell stories of love gone wrong and death done right.

"Irreverent, witty, and smart" (The Recorder), upstate New York native Chris Elliott's original songs run the spectrum from genuine beauty to scathing irony. Chris plays a handmade Alan Carruth acoustic guitar, which he won in the WUMB FM Songwriting Contest.  

With Lilith Fair semi-finalist Lisa Austin's bracing harmonies, bass, 6-string banjo, and powerful hand drum, their live shows are praised as "lively" (Recorder) and "memorable" (CBS Boston). According to Metronome Magazine, "their voices meld together perfectly." 

Further Elaboration

Austin & Elliott is comprised of singer/songwriters Chris Elliott and Lisa Austin. Combining folk and rock influences, their dark but catchy original songs combine bracing harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics, and driving acoustic guitar work. Elliott's striking songs have made him a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition, a two-time finalist in the Rose Garden Coffeehouse song contest. Duo or solo, the pair have opened for or shared bills with a diverse array of artists, such as Josh Ritter, Bill Staines, Pamela Means, Gideon Freudman, Lisa Bastoni, Troll 2, Mary Gauthier, Atwater-Donnelly, Rod MacDonald, and many more. After years of performing on their own as solo artists, they began collaborating in 2003 with Lisa adding harmony vocals to Chris’s songs. Since then, they’ve deepened their musical partnership, incorporating new instrumentation such as hand drum and banjitar and honing their twin vocal attack.

Their latest recording, Cradle and Crow, was recorded at home in the wilds of Leverett and Montague, and features 13 original songs about love gone wrong and death gone right. Their previous record, the 5-cut Truth That Hurts, their first full-band effort, was produced by Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Catie Curtis, Mark Erelli) and features guitarist Duke Levine (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jonatha Brooke, Ellis Paul) and bassist Paul Kochanski (Resophonics). Their debut CD 13 Songs Plus is packed with 21 songs performed in stark, powerful fashion.

Influences? Think duos like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Richard and Linda Thompson, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Richard and Mimi Farina, the Handsome Family and Timbuk 3. The more you listen, you'll hear: Natalie Merchant, Bob Dylan, the Decemberists, REM, Robyn Hitchcock, Randy Newman, the Pogues, Pixies, James McMurtry, Todd Snider, Grace Slick, and more.

Stuff about Chris

Born and raised in Binghamton, NY and currently residing in Montague, MA, Christopher Thomas Elliott likes to rhyme, sing, and play guitar as a solo performer and as half of dark folk duo Austin & Elliott.  Since moving to Boston in 1994 to escape food service jobs and go to grad school, has become a fixture of the underground acoustic scene in New England. He starting writing funny songs in his teens, and when he got a beat-up Ovation guitar while at Bard College, the satirical edge of his writing sharpened. Earning an MFA from Emerson College, he has developed writing style that ranges from darkly serious to deadly funny.  His hand-made acoustic guitar is by luthier Alan Carruth, its powerful tone accommodating his soft fingerpicking and hard strumming style. According to Club Passim's Matt Smith, "his songs run the gamut from bitingly ironic to honestly beautiful." Or in the words of Marilyn Ray Beyer of 91.9FM WUMB: "Laugh now, think later... A poet in a songwriter suit." He was a finalist in the Rose Garden Songwriting Competition--twice.  Other accolades include finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition and the PortlandSongwriters Association Songwriting Contest. Check out his solo CD Satellite, UFO, Jet Plane, or Star. In addition to his songster activities, Chris has self-published a mock heroic epic poem, Ferding and the Fly, Book I: A Ballad of Garbage and Picnics, which recounts the saga of a young boy’s crusade to swat a fly and the fly’s quest to conquer a picnic. 

Stuff about Lisa

A native of Western Massachusetts, Lisa Austin began playing live in earnest after moving to Boulder, Colorado in 1998. With a voice that recalls Natalie Merchant, she was a Lillith Fair semi-finalist for an opening spot at the 1999 Colorado Lillith Fair, and since then she has played and sung in many venues throughout Boulder and Massachusetts. While Chris takes a more cerebral approach to music making, Lisa is the more intuitive, creating original harmony lines by ear and unearthing the emotional core of songs. In addition to singing, she plays guitar, 6-string banjo, bass and percussion, adding energy to the live show. Her songwriting is dark and traditional-folk inspired, filled with rural imagery, reflecting her love of and reverence for the natural world. She often sings from unique points of view, such as a fisherman drowning at sea or a westward journeying pioneer who discovers his family dead on Christmas Day.  In addition to music-making, Lisa is involved with animal rights and spay/neuter advocacy.

Austin & Elliott have shared the stage or opened for with Pamela Means, Troll 2, Lisa Bastoni, Atwater-Donnelly, the Lied Tos, Henning, Rod McDonald, Anias Mitchell, Bill Staines, and Cindy Bullens, among others. From coffeehouses to night clubs, venues played include: in the greater Boston area, First Night Boston, Club Passim, the Nameless Coffeehouse, the Burren, the Cantab, Java Joe's, TT the Bear's Place, Johnny D's, Perk's Coffeehouse, and more. Further west, First Night Northampton, the Luthier's Co-op, the Iron Horse, Off the Commons Coffeehouse, the Center for Arts in Natick, Amazing Things Arts Center (Framingham), the Dove Cafe and Capo's (Lowell), the Pioneer Arts Center (Westford), the Java Hut (Worcester), the Stagecoach Inn (Groton), Studio Session Live for HCAM TV (Hopkinton), the Sit 'n' Bull (Maynard), Mocha Maya's (Shelburne Falls), Club Helsinki (Great Barrington), and more. Around the Northeast: Tupelo Music Hall (Londonderry, NH), Vanilla Bean Cafe (Pomfret, CT), Langdon St. Cafe (Montpelier, VT), Postcrypt Cafe (New York City), the New Jersey Folk Fetival, and more.  Chris has opened for or shared the stage with Josh Ritter, Mary Gauthier, Grey Eye Glances, Ratsy, Carl Cacho, and Gideon Freudmann. Live on the radio: WUMB 91.9FM (UMASS Boston), WMUA 91.1FM (UMASS Amherst), WMFO 91.5FM (Tufts University), WUML 91.5FM (Lowell, MA), WMPG 90.9FM (Portland, ME), WSCA 106.1FM (Portsmouth, NH), among others.