Goodnight Blue Moon
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Goodnight Blue Moon

New Haven, CT | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF | AFM

New Haven, CT | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Americana




"Full Moon"

The members of Goodnight Blue Moon might as well be singing about themselves in that lyric from the band’s forthcoming EP, A Girl I Never Met. We recognize them, but they’ve changed.

Since March 2012, when Goodnight’s last record, the celebrated full-length How Long, came out, the indie-folk group’s membership has grown to seven, and the sound’s been turned up to eleven. Vocal harmonies on Girl soar higher than ever on the back of complex, layered instrumentation that registers bigger in the mix, including drums and cymbals that bite and ring and rumble with acoustic depth.

Not bad for an album that was partially recorded in the living room of two of the bandmates. Girl was also conceived in that living room, and on Friday, it’ll be performed in “The Musician’s Living Room,” a.k.a. Cafe Nine at State and Crown, during the record’s release party.

Spanning a tidy twenty-three minutes, the six-song EP’s breezy opener “Hollow” flows into the stomping sea shanty “Captain’s Church.” There’s an easy, country shuffle to “Baby,” an ode to a lost love. And then there’s “Darlin’,” a rowdy sing-along invoking the band’s exuberant, engaging live show.

The septet pulls from a variety of influences—indie rock, bluegrass, soul, even Motown and Simon & Garfunkel—but Goodnight’s biggest influence at the moment seems to be New Haven itself, specifically the Fair Haven neighborhood where the majority of the group resides.

“This album in particular is Fair Haven through and through,” says cellist Nancy Matlack Elligers about the neighborhood she and her husband, lead singer/guitarist Erik Elligers, moved into last year. (The band’s Twitter bio simply reads: “fair haven folk music.”) Shout-outs vary from the historical (“Captain’s Church” came out of an anonymous poem written about the First Church of Fair Haven, which was destroyed by a hurricane in 1869) to the incidental (“The Ballad of Jeanne Christine” is named after a boat that’s often visible from the couple’s home). Oysters decorate the new album’s cover in reference to the neighborhood’s once-vibrant oystering trade. “It’s a very time-and-place record,” says Matlack Elligers.

She and Erik started Goodnight Blue Moon—the name is a mashup of the popular children’s book Goodnight Moon and Blue Moon, the brewery—in 2009 with singer/mandolinist Matthew Crowley. The three were neighbors living above East Rock’s Christopher Martins restaurant, discovering their shared interest in bluegrass and folk music not through Craigslist or “musicians wanted” adverts but through thin apartment walls.

In the past few years, the band added Sean Elligers on trumpet/vocals, Carl Testa on upright bass, Nick D’Errico on drums and Vicki Wepler on violin. Crowley and Erik Elligers are Goodnight Blue Moon’s primary songwriters, but Matlack Elligers says every member contributed to Girl. “We all came in with sketches of what we wanted for these songs, and the songs really grew around those sketches,” she says.

Additional recording and mixing for the record was done at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, which has produced music for indie-rock heavyweights The National and Frightened Rabbit, among others. (It’s also where Not Long was mixed.) Copies of A Girl I Never Met will naturally be available when the band performs it at Cafe Nine—“our favorite place,” Crowley says.

After that, the group will attend to its next full-length album, but not before filling up its spring and summer calendars with more local shows and festivals, stomping and belting and making many of us in the region feel like we’re at the hipster country wedding of our dreams. - Daily Nutmeg - Max Bakke

"Goodnight Blue Moon At Cafe Nine"

Over the past two years, what started as a living-room jam session, involving a husband and wife and their close friend, has spun out into one of the biggest bands in the state.

Big, certainly, in the sense of having a lot of members. As a septet, New Haven's Goodnight Blue Moon — Erik and Nancy Matlack-Elligers, the guitar and cello-playing husband and wife, their mandolin-wielding friend Matt Crowley, Erik's brother, trumpeter Sean Elligers, upright bassist Carl Testa, drummer Nick D'Errico and violinist Vicki Wepler — have committed to playing together in an era heavily populated by more cost-efficient duos.

In terms of critical success, they've also done well, taking home the Best Folk/Traditional trophy at the reader-voted 2013 Connecticut Music Awards, on the basis of a single release, 2012's "How Long," and a handful of successful shows. A performance at a mutual friend's party led NPR's John Dankosky to invite them onto "Where We Live," his flagship morning talk show. The band currently has a busy schedule of bookings around the state, with plans to hit the festival circuit this summer. Next week, the septet hosts a release party for their new six-song EP, "A Girl I Never Met," at Cafe Nine in New Haven on Friday, Jan. 17, with Oh, Cassius! and Milksop:Unsung, lending support.

"We all come from very different backgrounds," Matlack-Elligers said by phone. "I come from the punk/emo scene, Erik is a jazz player and also played in Pencilgrass, Crowley has a big bluegrass background, Carl is an experimental jazz/electronic musician, Vicki is classically trained, and so on."

Goodnight Blue Moon's acoustic sound was born out of those living-room jams, when the Elligers and Crowley needed to keep the noise down, dammit. "Erik picked up an acoustic guitar," Nancy said. "I was playing cello, and Crowley plays the mandolin. It made sense to play acoustic because it's easy to be quiet and not bother anyone." As they started writing songs together, there was no point in electrifying. "Ultimately [the sound came from] what was in our hands," she said.

On "A Girl I Never Met," that acoustic sound is big but not lumbering, lush without overwhelming the senses or wandering into schmaltz-land. There's a deftness to the arrangements; instruments and voices drift in and out (Erik Elligers sings lead on all six tracks and wrote all the lyrics, except for "Hangman," written by Crowley"), like members of a street orchestra, maneuvering through the introduction of "Hollow," for example, which begins with Matlack-Elligers' cello and Sean Elligers' trumpet weaving gentle lines over Erik's acoustic guitar. Crowley's mandolin arrives to add bite, Wepler's violin, gravity. Vocals on "Captain's Church," a minor-key shouter, are gang-tackled, while D'Errico beats his toms to wake the dead.

Elsewhere — as on "Baby," the first of this batch of songs to be written — the rollicking fun they're having yields to Erik's tender, intimate asides. There are songs about the sea, sure, but they aren't corny. "I'll always remember the last words I said to her," Erik sings on the chorus of "Ballad of Jeanne Christine." "'Look for the blue sky just beyond the gray' / And someday when I'm lost in the cold of December, I will try to remember to mean what I say."

To begin work on the new EP, the group approached Greg Giorgio, who mixed "How Long." They recorded basic tracks back in August 2013 at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, then returned to their New Haven house to overdub vocals, strings and trumpet parts. "It was a pretty quick process," Matlack-Elligers said. "We had most of it finished and the mixing done from October right through Thanksgiving." Most of the tracks on "How Long" were written as a trio, but this time around all seven members contributed. "You can really hear everyone's influence on this one. It was a good chance to see how this would gel together."

CD copies of "A Girl I Never Met" will be available at the release party, and digital copies will subsequently be available on iTunes and the other usual retailers. And while being in a family band means there's often little separation between home and band life, the Elligers are taking it in stride.

"We were talking last night," Matlack-Elligers said. "We are both really, really busy between students and school, but we recognize that this is our opportunity… We are always guaranteed time together. It's nice to have this as a distraction, but it's also something so important to us... It never causes tension with us, but it's always on our minds. It's a nice distraction from real life." - CTNOW - by Michael Hamad

"A Girl I Never Met EP by Goodnight Blue Moon"

Goodnight Blue Moon is tethered to the sea. Whether it be the barnacle-riddled shells on the cover of their excellent new EP, A Girl I Never Met, or the songs themselves, there is yearning for the balance of what the sea can bring: both tumult and rebirth. The New Haven, CT septet (Erik Elligers on vocals and guitar, Nancy Matlack-Elligers on cello, Matt Crowley on mandolin, Sean Elligers on trumpet, Carl Testa on upright bass, Nick D’Errico on drums, and Vicki Wepler on violin) composed a collection of songs that ebb & flow through myriad emotions harbored in short, precise movements, wondrous in its crystalline design.

“Hollow” begins gently, with acoustic guitar and bass, joined by cello, then trumpet, then mandolin, then voice. Elligers enters with “Turn the record on,” sounding like an awesome amalgamation of Jeff Mangum and Paul Simon. The string melodies swirl together in counter to the straight-forward folk arrangement, with sunny vocal harmonies adding gravity to the chorus.

“Captain’s Church” is a sea shanty, with the kick drum initiating the continuous beat as if an anchor, while a bell rings to call in the rest of the band. It’s the most engrossing song on the EP, with chanting vocals and brilliant violin runs. It has you stomping your foot with each downbeat, singing along while D’Errico’s percussion builds and rises like the tides.

“Baby” plays like a folk-arranged Harry Connick Jr ballad, with its beautiful chorus, as Elligers sings “I am lost without you by my side.” The various accompanying instrumentation adds layers to a song you could see being sung by a man to his lover on the dock with only an acoustic in hand. “Ballad of Jeanne Christine” swims in the sombre, hoping for a light: “Look for the blue sky just beyond the gray.”

“Darlin’” follows in jaunty and joyous celebration, as bluegrass, and fun, as it gets on the record. “Hangman” closes things out, with Elligers channeling the best of Paul Simon’s melodic voice, singing about how “out there in the distance is a girl I never met.”

Goodnight Blue Moon has quite successfully put together a collection of superb songs synchronous with one another, leaving for a perfect “press-play and listen through” EP, perhaps for one drifting along to the dance of the sea. - Lonesome Review - Christopher Mariotti


"Dawning Dream" (April, 2018 release)
"A Girl I Never Met (2014)
"How Long" (2012)



Blending rich vocal harmonies with lush orchestrations, Goodnight Blue Moon has created a sound that is steeped in tradition, yet entirely current.  GNBM is known for their energetic, honest, and dynamic live performances, offering a refreshing take on traditional Americana roots music.

​Awarded Best Roots Act in the 2016 New England Music Awards, and Best Folk/Traditional Act in the 2013 Connecticut Music Awards, Goodnight Blue Moon has cemented their place as one of New England's premier groups. They have shared the stage with indie-folk heavyweights Hurray for the Riff Raff, Spirit Family Reunion, Wild Child, Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons, and Mother Falcon among others, in addition to creating a diverse and devoted following of their own.  Goodnight Blue Moon has been regularly featured on WNPR's Where We Live and NEXT with John Dankosky. Their festival credits include CT Folk Festival, LAUNCH Music Festival, MUSIKFEST, Podunk Bluegrass Festival, I AM Festival and Block Island Music Festival.  Goodnight Blue Moon's third studio album Dawning Dream will be released April 2018. 

Band Members