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Mila Drumke


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative pop/folk

Status:

Most recent album, Radiate (2006)

See also:

Little Pro Records

Comparisons:

Heidi Berry. (lissener@wwa.com)

Her voice reminds me a little of Natalie Merchant. The songs wouldn't be out of place on a 10,000 Maniacs album. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

She's absolutely wonderful! (vickie@enteract.com)

i think she is wonderful and am amazed that she's not bigger. (nnadel@hotmail.com)

She has a wonderful, honey-smooth voice. Her cover of Kate Bush's "Under The Ivy" is positively stunning. (If you've ever seen the movie Go Fish, the incredible song over the closing credits, "Somewhere" is hers. That's where I first heard her, and it was an agonizing search until I finally figured out who it was!) (meth@smoe.org)

Comments about live performance:

Just back from seeing Mila. Very nice. She has some interesting stuff. She has a strong voice and is a skilled guitar player. Very nicely paced—no rushing, virtually no noticeable nervousness at all—very self-assured. This is nice to see and (I think) is the sign of a truly balanced and confident performer. It was almost like she was just singing and playing and to a large part ignoring her surroundings. Anyways, I need to listen some more, but she has a definite style, both lyrically and musically, which I mostly like quite a lot. yay. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

It was my first exposure to her music and saying I enjoyed it would be an understatement. Live, her voice reminded of Suzanne Vega's but this is not the case on the CDs. Go figure. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

Mila's set was short, as always, but pretty good. She and the band did a pretty standard set, though rearranged—she started off solo on her big red guitar, then the entire band got together for "Somewhere" and they were off to the races. There was one new song, for a grand total of two. Guess I'm not going to hold my breath for a new album any time soon. :( Still, it was a great set, and Lyris Hung was worthy of worship, as usual. Now she's got her electric violin sounding like an entire rack of synths, not to mention an electric guitar, sometimes all at once. Every time we see the band, Lyris is doing something new and exciting with that thing. It's incredible. (1/99)
     Mila Drumke's annual Valentine's Day evening of jazz standards was on Wednesday. The music was pretty damned good. This year's special guests included Sean Altman (formerly of Rockapella, the guy who wrote the "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego" theme song!) and Trina Hamlin, among many others. Regular Mila Drumke Bandmates in attendance were Marc Sacco on drums and Lyris Hung (looking quite fetching in a nice black dress) on violin.
     I don't recall the exact set list, but there were quite a few tunes that ended up on Hip To Hip, as well as a killer rendition of "That Old Black Magic". Sean Altman did a duet with Mila, and I couldn't believe how beautiful his voice was—he's got a soaring tenor that meshed with Mila's voice perfectly. Trina Hamlin provided scorching harmonica on the last song of the set, a soulful number whose title escapes me, then she came back and did a gorgeous harmonica solo on the "Moon River" encore. I was there with a couple of non-ecto friends, and just those two bits alone turned one of them into a groveling Trina Hamlin fan. :) It was quite amusing to watch.
     Anyway, Mila not only has the perfect voice for that kind of music, but she really looked the part too, decked out in a simple brown sheath and a retro hairstyle. She, and everyone else up there on stage was clearly having a wonderful time. It was a great night, well worth the getting home at 2am and the price I had to pay for it the next day at work. :/. (2/01)
     Next came Mila. Mila was accompanied by the always stunning Lyris Hung on violin, and they did a very nice, solid set, including "All Things Told", "Someone", "Motorboat", "Time That We Spent", and in closing, a kickass cover of a Nanci Griffith song that I am completely blanking on the title of. It seemed that as the set went on, the chatter behind us got a bit quieter—I think she at least won over some people to pay attention to her. (4/01, meth@smoe.org)

I quite enjoyed her set, and loved her voice. (kamesan@geocities.com)

Mila went on with Lyris on violin and Elissa on bass—Mark Sacco (drums) couldn't make it. Mila had a new acoustic guitar which I didn't like as much as the guitar she normally uses, particularly when she used it instead of the bass on her new nameless song. (The other song where she plays the bass, "Indiana," she didn't perform.) Other than that, her set was representative and seemed to win over some new fans. (5/99, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

After ecto discussion, I had high expectations and was really excited. And as usual, ecto recommendations did not disappoint.
     She started out with "Someone," and I was immediately hooked. She has a gorgeous voice, and the four piece band really worked. They had a lot of energy, and I especially liked Lyris Hung on the electric violin.
     I can't think of a good genre description for the music, it's really a broad range, but the whole time, I kept thinking that if I had to describe it, I would call it seductive. Not in a sexual way, but in terms of having the power to draw you in. One song was kind of ethereal, and I felt that she reminded me of a mermaid, and I couldn't think why, except maybe the pulse of the music and the way she was singing, was undulating, like waves.
     Anyway, I throw in my high, hearty recommendations. (7/99, JoAnn.Whetsell)

Mila writes and performs some absolutely beautiful music with a warm voice. (5/99)
     I saw the Mila Drumke Band last saturday at Club Passim in Cambridge as part of the NEMO (new england music organization) showcase. great show, showed no ill effects from having two broken wrists last month. Sadly, or happily, enough, the performer who was supposed to wrap up the night after the band, cancelled, so they played more than just their alloted 25 minutes. even pulled out "My Funny Valentine". (4/00, paul2k@aol.com)

I've been fairly lukewarm on Mila Drumke's Illinois. After multiple listens, the only song that I can ever remember, and the one that jumps out, is the cover of "Under The Ivy". It was the highlight of her set for me too. While her voice seemed richer live, none of her songs really made any impression. However, I thought Lyris, her violinist and backup vocalist, was great. She added tons of interesting touchs in her vocals and playing, lifting up songs that seemed generally unremarcable to me. I'd be curious about how things would sound if she got to take the lead on a song or two. (9/99)
     The Mila Drumke Band was up next, and performed what seemed to me a fairly typical Mila set. All the Mila fans seemed happy, and I still wasn't won over. As before, the most striking aspect for me was Lyris' violin playing, and how it works off of the band. (8/01, neal)

Recommended first album:

Illinois

Recordings:


Gathering My Name

Release info:

1994—Mila Drumke—09911-0001-2

Availability:

By mail order from Little Pro Records, 328 Flatbush Avenue, Suite 207, Brooklyn, NY 11238, U.S.A.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of soft pop.

Group members:

Mila Drumke—vocals, keyboards, guitar, acoustic guitar, harmony vocals

Guest artists:

Tony Cross—violin, tabla, background vocals
Bill Mutchler—drums
Brian Claflin—acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Tony Shanahan—electric bass

Produced by:

Mila Drumke, Brian Claflin, and Tony Cross

Comments:

Beautiful. Kind of folky for me, but very, very beautiful. Her style evokes Heidi Berry a bit, though her voice (as well as overall sound) is less textured; more Joan Baez, though not as polemic and strident, and keyboard- rather than guitar-based. I don't much like Dar Williams because she's so American-acoustic-guitar-on-the-lap sounding, but by way of comparison, Drumke sounds somehow more European. She has a bit of that Heidi Berry archaism. You can't quite put your finger on why, but these songs, like Berry's, sound timeless. (lissener@wwa.com)

This is just a little smooth, soft-sounding, and formless for my tastes to me—a little too like Heidi Berry. I prefer Illinois by far. (Neile)


Illinois

Release info:

1997—Little Pro Records—LPR02

Availability:

By mail order from Little Pro Records, 328 Flatbush Avenue, Suite 207, Brooklyn, NY 11238, U.S.A.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mila Drumke—vocals, guitar, piano
Lyris Hung—violin
Mark Sacco—drums
Tony Shanahan—bass guitar

Guest artists:

Marian Fontana—basson
Nayla Metni—bass guitar
Josh Neretin—percussion
Don Peris (of Innocence Mission)—lead guitar
Karen Peris (of Innocence Mission)—harmony vocals
Cathy Stephan—cello

Produced by:

Mila Drumke, Lyris Hung, Mark Sacco, and Tony Shanahan

Comments:

I love this one, from the second cut on at least (the first one,"Super 8" is a little smooth for me, but right after that comes "Constance" and the album, for me, takes off). When Mila Drumke belts out a song it transforms her material into something I want to listen to. It doesn't bear too many repeated listens for me, but she has a lovely voice and I agree that her version of "Under The Ivy" is a surprise delight—it's very different from Kate Bush's but she pulls it off with flair. Her own songs are good, but not knockouts. Overall I'd say this album is very good and shows a lot of promise. (Neile)

I absolutely love it. (mcurry@io.com)

Wonderful! (Kelley.Hays-Gilpin@nau.edu)

Every year has to have a musical discovery, and this year Mila was it. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking or mind-blowing about this album, but for some reason it's just Great Stuff all around. And her cover of "Under The Ivy" is worth the price of admission in and of itself. :) (meth@smoe.org)

Finally picked this up—I love her version of Under the Ivy—but not sure about the rest of the album. I like it—it just hasn't bowled me over yet—I can't get past the resemblance her voice has to Lynn Canfield's (of Area, The Moon Seven Times, Shotgun Wedding)—at least on certain songs. (jjhanson@att.net)


Hip To Hip: A Collection of Standards

Release info:

2000—Little Pro Records(328 Flatbush Ave, Suite 207, Brooklyn NY 11238, U.S.A.)—LPR 03

Availability:

Through Little Pro Records and in some record stores

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Group members:

Mila Drumke—vocals, guitars on "Moon River"

Guest artists:

Sean Altman—vocals on "You Go To My Head"
Adam Ben-David—piano
Erik Della Penna—vocal and guitar on "How Sweet It Is to Be In Love"
Mat Fieldes—double bass
Joey Fortuna—vocal on "Something Stupid," "Moon River," and "Baby It's Cold Outside"
Lyris Hung—violin
Charlie Porter—trumpet
Mark Sacco—drum kit
Jake Stigers—vocal on "Satin Doll" Rolf Sturm—guitar on "Something Stupid" and "How Deep Is the Ocean," slide guitar on "Moon River"

Produced by:

Mila Drumke

Comments:

I don't think I would recommend this album to non-fans, but I'm not sure I'd recommend anyone's album of covers as a starting place. This is a good album though, and highly recommended for fans. It's growing on me with each listen. About half the songs are new to me. A bit too cool and reserved at first, but now I think that's just Mila's style with the music, and she does sing with more passion and intensity at different times. "How Deep Is the Ocean" is my favorite track here, along with "Moon River," and "Cheek to Cheek." The hidden track, a jazzed-up version of one of Mila's own songs, is a nice surprise at the end too. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Nice stuff, although, again, i have some qualms with some production choices (i've found that recently, i've been listening to albums with my ear attuned much more to production and engineering. must be this stupid school thing). Decent, but not overwhelming. (paul2k@aol.com)


Radiate

Release info:

2006—Little Pro Records—LPR04

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mila Drumke—vocals, guitars, piano, toy piano, accordion
Lyris Hung—violin, organ, harmony vocals on 6
Elissa Linowes—bass guitar
Allison Miller—drums

Guest artists:

Adam Ben-David—piano on 9
Erik Della Penna—banjo on 5, electric guitar on 3
Joey Fortuna—harmony vocals and electric guitar on 2
Don Peris (The Innocence Mission)—guitar on 3, 8, 10, nylon-string guitar on 6
Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission)—countermelody on 9
Barbara Verrochi—harmonium on 3

Comments:

I first heard a couple of songs from Radiate ("My Big Holiday," and, possibly, "Cliff House") at a concert in NYC in (I think) 2003. Mila talked about her experience living in California where she had gone to be with her younger sister while she was dying of brain cancer. The album was expected that summer, but instead it wasn't released until 2006. It was worth the wait. On first listen, it's a quieter album than her most recent studio release, Illinois, more subdued. But on subsequent listens a lot of the songs burn with the kind of intensity and tension that make Illinois so good. Lyrically, they are joyful, bittersweet, bright, heavy, grieving, and most of all, full of life, all the shades of life that facing death brings out. This may not be a lively album, but it is life-affirming. We should all be so lucky to receive such a beautiful tribute after we're gone. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

"Blue Light" appears on the Evensong compliation.


Thanks to JoAnn.Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2012-08-19 16:41:12.
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