Great Elk may be named after an extinct species, but things are starting to pick up for the Brooklyn band.
With an EP four years in the making and a solid lineup, the band has started to garner attention for its gritty folk sound and impassioned performance.
It all started when frontman Paul Basile, looking for adventure, heeded the ancient call and went west.
The New York native landed in rural Bethel, Alaska, where he primarily worked as a sled-dog handler until he found his true passion — music.
There’s not much of a live scene in Bethel, so it’s no surprise that Basile eventually made his way back to New York to pursue music seriously, this time landing in the music capital of the world.
Happily ensconced in Park Slope, Basile focused his energies on developing his rustic, world-weary sound and forming the band, comprised of friend and long-time collaborator Patrick Hay on guitar, Adam Christgau on drums and Jon Estes on bass, and branding it Great Elk, named after references to the Great Irish Elk in the poems of Seamus Heaney.
The added instrumentation has, naturally, expanded Basile’s sparse sound to a livelier, often romping set.
“Over the years there’s just been an evolution, from solo singer/songwriter, singing folk songs, towards more rock music,” said Basile. “Our live show is getting bigger and louder.”
When the band plays at Park Slope’s Bar4 on July 9 as part of the Local Correspondents Festival, though, it’ll experience a bit of a devolution, as Basile looks to spare the live act down to a smaller, more intimate outfit as they share some tunes off the new, self-titled EP.
Basile’s time in the Last Frontier wasn’t for naught, as it helped inspire the sparser folk tunes on the album and enabled him to hone his commanding live performance, playing what coffee shops he could in Bethel.
But now, with a full band behind him and a new album out, going east might be the new credo of choice.
“Things are finally falling into place for us,” said Basile. “I have some good ideas about what’s in the future for Great Elk.”
Leaving Brooklyn surely isn’t one of them.
Great Elk at Bar4 [444 Seventh Ave. at 15th Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-9800], July 9 at 10:40 pm. Free. For info, visit www.greatelkmusic.com.