“It is difficult, with a band that features harmonica so prominently, to not make comparisons to Blues Traveler or Neil Young – and, sure, there is some of that – but Elk Creek has managed to carve out a sound all their own that has a hint of latter-day hippie jam band balanced with a rich singer-songwriter tradition.” —Jim Nolan, WVXU
Elk Creek’s sound is rooted in the singer-songwriter style of artists like Neil Young, Ryan Adams, Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, and Iron And Wine. On top of that, rock and blues influences such as Blind Melon, Two Gallants, and Sonny Boy Williamson shine through.
Founding members Aaron Price, Jeremy Brown, and Brad Smith grew up together in Trenton, Ohio, but fell out of touch after moving away to attend different colleges. They had last played together in the band Hector, which practiced in a house on Elk Creek Road.
In their years apart, each continued to make music. In 2012, when the three reunited in Cincinnati, it was immediately clear that they needed to make music together again. They began sharing stories of life experiences, which became the foundations for new songs. Drummer Travis Estell and bassist Nick Whittenburg were added, and the group began to develop these song ideas into full arrangements. In 2015, Smith left the band and Whittenburg moved to lead guitar. Brian “BJ” McKinney (formerly of Sohio) joined the band, taking over on bass in addition to adding mandolin and keyboards on some songs.
The band’s debut EP, Greenfield Project, was recorded at Ultrasuede Studio in Cincinnati with engineer Brian Niesz (Heartless Bastards, Wussy). The EP was named one of 2014’s best local releases by CityBeat, and was positively reviewed by WVXU and Dayton Most Metro. Songs from the EP have been played on several local radio stations including WNKU, WUDR, and WRVG.
Elk Creek, an 8-song self-titled album, was released in 2016. The album is the first to feature Nick Whittenburg on lead guitar, new member Brian McKinney on bass, keys, organ, and mandolin, and special guest Krystal Peterson on vocals. Matt Hueneman recorded and produced the album at Audiogrotto in Newport, Kentucky, and also contributed organ and percussion.
Elk Creek has opened for artists such as Bobby Bare Jr., Ona, Caroline Rose, and Kalob Griffin Band, and was nominated for two 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the Folk/Americana and New Artist categories. In 2015, the band performed at Cincinnati’s Fountain Square and at the MidPoint Music Festival.