Led by a modern-day Linda Ronstadt, Granville Automatic writes songs the Associated Press call “haunting tales of sorrow and perseverance.” Horses, history and war are just some of the topics songwriters Vanessa Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins prefer – all fitting subjects for a band named after a 19th-century typewriter. With sonic references like Lyle Lovett, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, Granville Automatic has created a quiet and lyrical sound devoted to telling stories from the past. After writing together first in the spring of 2009, the pair has more than 100 songs.
The band hit the ground running with the release of 2011’s Live from Sun Studio, an eight-song set recorded old-school-no-overdubs-style at Memphis’ Sun Studio and released in conjunction with the premiere of their episode of the revered PBS television program Sun Studio Sessions. A studio album, Granville Automatic, followed closely behind in late 2012. Recorded at The Station House in Echo Park, Los Angeles, with producer Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings), the record’s 11 tracks include “Comanche” (about the horse who survived the Battle of Little Big Horn), “Hazel Creek” (about a town flooded when the TVA built Fontana Dam), “The Groundskeeper” (about a Civil War ghost seen at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee), “Flying Mercury” (about the 19th-century Pepin & Breschard Circus), "Carolina Amen" (about a solider lost in the Civil War battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse) and “Copenhill” (about Sherman’s burning of Atlanta) as well as live favorites “Never On A Sunday” and “Don’t Come to Tennessee”. Legendary harmonica player Mickey Raphael makes a cameo on the elegiac “Blood and Gold”, which recounts the story of the American wild horse.
Chosen as the Composers in Residence at Seaside, Florida’s prestigious Escape to Create program, the pair spent a month in residence there, writing An Army Without Music: Civil War Stories from Hallowed Ground. Those songs will become the duo’s third album, a double disc: one side recorded live on battle sites across the country, and the other offering full-band studio versions of the songs produced by Gary Maurer of the band Hem. The pair has partnered with the Civil War Trust for the live recordings. Each live recording is filmed and posted on the group’s website to underscore the importance of saving these quickly-disappearing Civil War landscapes. The girls are currently writing their fourth album, Dancing at El Mercado - a collection of songs inspired by Texas and Vanessa's childhood in the Lone Star State.
The band taped a Daytrotter session in June 2013. They’ve also appeared on the PBS/NPR program WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour - as well as Nashville Public Radio's Live at the Bluebird Café (their photograph hangs on the wall at the famous venue). They have performed at SXSW, the CMA Music Festival, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, the 30A Songwriters Festival and the Key West Songwriters Festival.
Granville Automatic loves the road – clocking as many as 200 dates across America each year. The duo has played at Hotel Café in Los Angeles, the Tin Angel and World Café Live in Philadelphia, the Bitter End and the Living Room in New York City, Momo’s in Austin, Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta and are favorites at Pappy and Harriet’s near Joshua Tree, California. They’ve played BMI’s Acoustic Lounge in Los Angeles and appeared on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Thacker Mountain Radio and NBC Atlanta’s Morning Show.
The band was a finalist in Mountain Stage’s NewSong Contest and a semi-finalist in the Unsigned Only competition. They won third prize in Spin Magazine’s Next Great American Road Song contest, made the finals in the Maurice Small Town Sounds competition and USAA’s GarageBand Playoff and were in the Top 50 for the Wildflower Performing Songwriter Competition.
Both girls have a history in the music business: Vocalist/songwriter Olivarez wrote and recorded a Top 10 single in Canada, has three cuts on Sugarland records, including a song on their multi-platinum Enjoy the Ride album, and received a Dora nomination for her work in the Toronto production of Hairspray. She was also a top 12 finalist on American Idol. Guitarist/songwriter Elkins is a Grand Prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest who has showcased at the Billboard/BMI Acoustic Brunch at SXSW, at BMI showcases in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville, and at CMJ. Elkins’ songs have appeared on television programs from Smallville to Rescue Me, Jersey Shore to CNN and in the film Mean Girls 2.