Hello Friends, thanks for stopping by. I've had some nice folks say lovely things about my CD and have collected those words here..........., love Shari
We are convinced that you are absolutely THE BERRIES!
And right now, my partner John and I are saying this to one another, so we know it's true :-).
Wish you were coming to visit here, in the Upper Midwest Region (we in particular live about 65 miles West of Madison, WI and 70 miles Southwest of LaCrosse, WI). People around here would go nuts for you and your 'way cool music 'n art. Would be fun to see you get some gigs hereabouts.
Anyhoo, just wanted to let you know that we're still thinking of you (wrote you last about a year and a half ago, when I found your album at the local Goodwill), and that we are so glad that you forced your goodness on us.
Warmly, Beth E. Baker and John T. Heinen
If you've ever had a sh*tty day, you need to own this album. Shari Elf, a Kansas City transplant who now lives in Southern California, is, in her own words, "a twirling attractor of goodness." No person who has ever heard this disc could disagree. With a voice that drips with sentimentality and amazement accompanied by omnichord, piano, guitar, banjo, sewing machine, and a "$7 thrift store electric chord organ," Elf paints a picture of an ugly world that can be transformed into a bliss-filled wonderland with a simple attitude adjustment. Songs like "Tenderness vs. Watering the Lawn Backwards", "Jesus at the Hardware Store", and "Some Thoughts on If I Should Die" will make you snicker, giggle, smile, and blow beer out your nose. What could be more precious than that?
DUG, Skratch Magazine.com reviews
I have been listening to your CD daily. I love it with a passion that is human, spiritual, and possibly illegal in some states. I saw the video for "Seamstress" and think the artist who created it is incredible. I don't watch MTV because it seems to me like the videos are created to distract the viewer from the flaws in the music. In the case of "Seamstress" the video actually enhances the song. Congratulations to both of you on your fine work.
David Garner aka "Wavey Davey"
So these people were over at our house last evening - their one request? Never have another show without Shari Elf. Ever. True story - thanks and love to you.
Richard Held, The Living Room, Kansas City, MO
I stumbled upon your record over at CD Baby and bought it on a whim. I have
not played a record so much in a very long time. My girlfriend and I go
around singing Jerk-A-Lator all the time. The dogs seem to really like it,
so we made up new lyrics just for them. We love your art!
Paul and Sharon
From North Carolina
So these days I find myself often sitting in the garden, in the
spring/summer weather listening to your cds and just dreaming away a bit. Thus your music is ringing in dutch skys as well ! I really love the 'dreamy goodness' feeling,
David Veld, Netherlands
"Art from the heart. A treat, a treasure, a gem!"
-Irwin Chusid (WFMU, Songs in the Key of Z, Langley Schools
Music Project: Innocence and Despair)
"How did we ever manage without Shari Elf before? She is clearly a kindred spirit. She also is the author of good and sturdy art. " David Gutcheon said to Laurie Munn in New York, as he gave her my cd. (6/28/05)
"I've listened to your CD 800 times, I think it's part of my DNA now. We've sold out, bring more CDs!"
Randy the Banjo Ghost (Music Exchange, Kansas City, MO)
From the message board at preteenplanet.com: "what's your favorite band/singer?" Katelyn: "how come nobody I've seen has said anybody really good, like Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Shari Elf, or Diana Ross?" ... June 06, 2004.
EXTREMO the Clown
Today was trash day, I walked out to the street to bring the can in and check the mail simultaneously. I was so happy and delighted to see the small package containing my I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You Shari Elf CD . Now I am listening to it while I typing this letter. It makes me feel all soft and squishy inside..and giddy too, and goofy. I am happy when I listen to it, an almost unusually strong happy feeling, it's kinda weird. It really has quite an effect on me. You are an awesome songwriter, singer, poet and composer. I am really amazed! I really like music, all types from heavy metal to enya but I don't usually freak out about a particular musician that much. Your voice and your music is really wonderful.
Elayne Boosler (after I sang "Jesus at the Hardware Store" during her show at Stanford and Sons comedy club in Overland Park, Kansas) March 5, 2002
"...you STOLE the show on Saturday night!! Of course the room was smokey enough for anyone to steal anything, but you were fantastic!! Because of your wonderful performance extra money was raised for Animal Haven and Wayside Waifs, both in Kansas City, when the audience cleaned you out of CDs. You were fantastic, and I can't wait to see your whole show next time you perform. Your help in selling all items after the shows was a wonderful thing to do for the animals, and you are the best!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo"
Milwalkee's Shepherd Express
An out-of-town musician friend recently sent me Shari Elf's CD I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You. He said that he saw her ad in the latest issue of Cool and Strange Music magazine and went to her Web site. He wrote that she is "one of them strange artistic types," that she reminded him of me and he knew I would like it.
Elf's lyrics are more than funny; they give insight to the inner workings of every girl's mind, thoughts, dreams and humor on her best days. Guaranteed to cheer even the grumpiest person on the cloudiest of days, Forcing Goodness sneaks in the back door and tickles the listener's funny bone. "I'm a nice girl/ I'll be your elevator/ I'm a nice girl/ I'll be your escalator/ I'm a nice girl/ I'll be your percolator/ I'm a nice girl/ Ihope your not a Jerk-a-lator." Sing this song, and giddiness is sure to follow.
According to Elf's Web site, the Kansas City transplant from Venice, California's first love was making art from trash. She hunts up materials at garage sales or finds things in the street, then makes fun and humorous art. "It's been the best job I've ever had!" she says.
Making lemonade from lemons appears to be Elf's perky occupation, whether it's music or 3-D found art pictures of a dog and her cook.
In a world that is just plain crotchety, it's good to find an album
that's crocheted. I predict that your Sock Monkey Zen will be the
next big thing. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face.
Something good did happen to me today - the laughirmations
of "I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You"!
P.S. Very cool tiara.
Phil Drenth in San Diego
(Stardust: the Unabashed David Bowie Music Guide
Kim Cooper, Editrix, Scram Magazine
Naïve yet knowing, so catchy it oughtta be regulated, Shari Elf and her omnichord make outsider music that makes you want to open your door and ask them in for some cookies and conversation. Thank you, Alicia Bay Laurel, for bringing Shari along to play the Scram #15 release party, where she charmed everyone with her odes to crocheted alligators, guys who may or may not be jerk-a-lators, and (especially) "Seamstress," with live sewing machine, pinbox and snip-snip scissors accompaniment
Alice MacAllister, Music Director
KVMR 89.5 FM (Nevada City, CA)
Dear Ms Shari: I do so love your new record! Thank you for spending the
money to get a copy to us. It's an "official add" on our CMJ chart this
week and I suspect will be a big hit here.
Customer Service Representative, QChord Network
Shari Elf is a singer/musician who could probably double as a stand-up
comic. Her latest CD release "I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You" will charm
anybody who likes good music and a good laugh. Not to mention
QChord/Omnichord afficionados interested in what the pros can do with
our beloved instrument. In Shari's case, that's quite a lot.
You won't find elaborate musical arrangements or air-brushed production
values here, but you won't miss them either. Shari lays down a solid
musical foundation with her Omnichord for imaginative lyrics which she
delivers with the style of an accomplished and innovative songstress.
Whether she's interpreting a standard like "Ring of Fire" or a unique
original like "Jesus at the Hardware Store" (my personal favorite), I
doubt you've ever heard anyone do what Shari can do with a song. But you
owe yourself the experience. I'm sure it'll brighten your day the way it
KELP TOP TEN, 2002
Kranky Kape Kodder music critic lists his current favorite albums, apropos of nothing:
...2. SHARI ELF - "I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You" (www.sharielf.com)
-daffy primitive artist on holiday, with some inspired moments -like this verse from "Tenderness vs. Watering the Lawn Backwards":
"I met the man of my dreams in the "Making Vases >From Wallpaper Scraps" art class
We exchanged wallpaper samples
I borrowed his glue and he borrowed my scissors
He has everything I want in a man
Everything I want and more, stuff I don't want"
-I rest my case. ...
Flee, Music Director, WMNF (Tampa)
"Very good, very funny, we love it here at WMNF-- by the way you got song title of the week on my show today"
Palmer Haas, WZRD radio (Chicago)
Shari Elf - I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You
Shari makes quirky childlike folk with a good sense of humor. It's cheeky and lo fi with lot's o cheap instruments like Casio keyboards circa (probably) 1988 or so. I have never really liked folk all that much, but at least Shari is not the generic female pierced and hair dyed alterna chick Liz Phair / Indigo Girl knock off playing coffee shops annoying metal head cum indie rockers like me everywhere. She is a ray of sunshine, and I am only modestly annoyed at her very earnest attempt to prostelytize in Jesus at the Hardware store.
Ya know normally I hate terminally cheery people. However after confronting the death clock ( www.deathclock.com) I've come to realize that being negative is hazardous to my health. This fact is not enough to make me decide to change my ways. It's just that someone should try to cheer people up at my funeral, so her sunny disposition would make her perfect for the job, being that she is most definitely an optimist and will most likely live longer for that fact. Let's just hope she doesn't try to turn my family on to Jesus, being that I am am a Heb.
The best review for the music for this pretentious college radio DJ reminds me of a Simpson episode. Marge is commissioned to paint Mr. Burns, and she draws him honestly in all his naked repulsiveness. Mr. Burns looks and say "I know what I hate, and I don't hate this" This is not to say the record is like the painting of Mr. Burns, it's just that I'm not generally into this kinda stuff. It's just that phrase, and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Kansas City Star
May 31, 2002
Elf is also a 3-D artist, a clever and resourceful gal who transforms refuse and junk (license plates, brooms, bottle caps) into folk-art exhibits suitable for framing.
Her songs are folk-artful, too -- melodic, lo-fi odes, lullabyes and musical dramatizations that gaily dance back and forth over the fine lines between whimsy and despair ("Happy World"), trivia and substance ("Ron's Appliance") and satire and cruel irony ("Seamstress").
Her covers of "Ring of Fire" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me" are coy and kitschy at once, but when she sings lines like "My neighbors they still ignore me/Like I'm an aardvark when I walk by...," she turns mundane moments and the people who populate them into something acute -- kind of like her art. -- Timothy Finn
It's brilliant; it's clever; it's distinctive; it's unusual. I've bought nothing this year I've enjoyed so much. I grew up in Kansas City, and it pleases me to think such things are being created in that place. I hope you're planning more.--David Bywaters
Cocoa Blake Sat, Apr 6th, 2002
We got your CD at our college radio station and I love it! I had no idea that you made visual art as well. I don't have it in me to be profound right now, so I just want to say that both the art and the music are great! "Ron's Appliance" might be my favorite! Thanks for sharing your music with our station. (WRUV FM Burlington, 90.1) That's not a plug--just wanted you to know we're listening to you in Burlington VT.
Gina Kaufman, the Pitch Weekly, Kansas City April 2002
"...She plays a used acoustic guitar she bought for $15 six years ago, and her backup band includes "whoever's available."
Elf's self-produced album, I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You, walks such a fine line between sincerity and camp (on the cover, Elf wears a tin-can crown) that it's hard to tell whether she's serious. But the music is catchy, and listeners can easily become enticed by lyrics full of the kind of logic employed by kids who don't know how insightful their unpolluted observations really are.
On "Seamstress," one of the album's more innovative songs, percussion is provided by the sound of sewing machines. When Elf and her All-Star Seamstress Band perform at Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club on Wednesday, two seamstresses will be onstage running sewing machines at appropriate times..."
Saturday's 9:00 am class
Yet another class is inspired to write you!
Roshan, 8, says, "I want to be just like you when I grow up!"
Lauren, 11, says, "I think you are really interesting and cool!"
Sasha, 9, says,"I think you are really talented."
Briana, 12, says, "I really like your music." She wanted to hear all of the songs more than once!
There are many more kids in class that loved your art and music!
Thank you and "fare the well"
Heather (their teacher)
Harmony Ridge Music (December 2001)
I knew something was up as soon as I spied that look on her face from her CD art work. I had the same kind of experience when I first looked at the CD art work on Ani Difranco's album "Puddle Dive". The eyes give it away, they have that off the wall, out there, mischievous, I want to play with your mind look. Play with your mind indeed, she has all the mind tools at her disposal, clever lyrics, unconventional yet simple arrangements, and an unorthodox right-on delivery. You take notice right away because it's new, innovative, simple, and good feeling stuff. There is no familiar ground to drag your mind into comparisons, I've tried and frankly I come up blank, so it's like starting with a fresh piece of paper.
Shari is a master at simplicity, there are no complications, the lyrics are everyday surface stuff, no deep psychological underpinnings, you need not be a rocket scientist to get it. The arrangement reminds you of 50's simplicity and innocence, nothing fancy, simple guitar licks, a pleasant melody, a cohesive flow. I can't emphasize the simplicity enough, it totally amazes me how little it really takes to make music work. However, I believe it takes a genius to understand the simplicity and make it work. Shari Elf has done that; it works and works really good. It's all in the eyes.
Dan Behrman, CKUT "Just an Immigrant" (Montreal, Nov 2001)
Just received your cd today and I've already played it twice, good sign I'll say! What a refreshing alternative from all this Mc Music we're being bombarded with constantly! Love your low-fi innocence and sincerity. You can be sure that I'm going to play these songs on my radio show ("Just an Immigrant", CKUT-90.3FM in Montreal & www.ckut.ca) on a regular basis and that people in this city you like so much, Montreal, will soon know what "Goodness" is all about!
The Maui News, Let's Talk By Liz Janes Brown (Sunday, October 21, 2001)
Maui connections: Baldwin grad Shari Elf, now a folk artist in Kansas City, Mo., just put out a CD that is so silly, off the wall, and poignant that it somehow recaptures some of the innocence we recently lost. The quirky album features original songs with titles like "Tenderness vs. Watering the Lawn Backwards" and "Jesus at the Hardware Store." Shari's mom, Pat Elf up in Kula, is featured on "The Seamstress," a song with sewing machine and box of pins accompaniment. You'll be able to pick up your copy at Maureen's Gifts & Christmas soon. Guaranteed you'll be smiling. By the way, Shari's art work made from recycled materials is in the collections of Elayne Boosler, Jack Nicholson, Courtney Love and a bunch of other celebs who like to smile.
B.C. Sterrett, Oddity Rock radio (Utah)
"I love your cd! You have a wonderful voice and singing style as well. You will definately be getting lots of airplay on our show. We've made a link to your site.
("I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You" was in the top 5 albums for 2001 on Oddity Rock radio)
Keith Hemmerling (The Hemmerling Foundation)
"I am looking forward to "I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You" becoming a cult classic forcing goodness upon the world!!!...a compelling release--your unique perspective on the reality of life makes you a kind of musical philosopher like Socrates!"
Tracy Dove Copen (Phoenix)
"A breath of fresh air. Every one should have one."
Sarah Bearley, Entertainment Kansas City (EKC) 8/02
California transplant delivers 'goodness'
Shari Elf wants to force her goodness upon you, or so proclaims the title of her self-released CD. The folk artist and musician created I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You, a charming and unique debut by this transplant from Venice, CA.
To attend a Shari Elf concert is to enter a world of crochet alligators, toy instruments, thrift store record players and sewing machines, all used to
keep rhythm. Such a cornucopia of things to play can leave an audience member commenting, "Is she for real?" Yet after stumbling onto her colorful
stage act, the short answer is "yes," though Elf does make it a point not to take herself too seriously.
She describes herself as "a girl recording songs in her room to amuse herself." But this girl has emerged from room to stage and is quickly making a name for herself in the local music and art scene. One of the more
original live acts to catch in town, Elf is remarkably soft-spoken and sports colorful ensembles that she embellishes herself. Indeed, she does seem to ooze goodness from every pore.
"I feel good when I hear music that is imperfect and real, made for the joy of making music," she says of her purposefully unpolished style. "I can feel threatened by music that is really polished, not unlike art that is
Describing her music as "funny little folk songs" yet "full of depth and hopefulness," she is part flea market goddess, part performance artist and not nearly as naïve as her first impression seems.
Performing with a group she calls the "All Star Seamstress Band," the songs are inspired by true events and range from her past experience as a
seamstress, to the time someone misdialed her phone number mistaking her residence for Ron's Appliance store. Any day-to-day happening becomes ripe
subject matter for Elf. One of her most memorable songs is about meeting a man who resembled Jesus at the hardware store.
"I feel very strong that there's enough darkness and negativity in the world," she says of her eternally quirky outlook, which may account for how she can get an entire bar full of people to sing along to "This Little Light of Mine."
"I'm being honest when I'm doing my art and my music. Like any art, it's not for everyone. And I'm always really grateful when it does connect with people," she says.
Apparently, it is connecting with people. I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You has sold out at the Music Exchange and she has a growing fan following.
"One fan told me that he hoped I could replace Britney Spears as the next music icon," Elf said. It's the type of comment that labels her with refreshing authenticity in a world of porn-star look-alike pop queens.
While Elf admits that there's not as big of an awareness of folk art in Kansas City as in other parts of the country, she's still been pleased with the response.
"Definitely I notice that there are people that don't understand folk art or folk music and that's okay. A friend of mine says something I really like,
'Sophisticated people like naïve art and naïve people like sophisticated art.'"
Appreciative that her eccentric style has been supported, Elf is in awe of the local music scene.
"I love the way Kansas City appreciates live music and people show up and support local performers. I have really felt that appreciation from the first time I played with a band at Davey's Uptown. From that gig we got
about five more offers."
After nearly getting signed with Interscope Records a few years ago, Elf is now grateful the deal fell through because she has been able to finish the album on her own with the help of local producers and engineers.
Maintaining her independence as a musician is important to Elf. "I'm really inspired by Ani DiFranco who doesn't want to be signed by a major label," she says. "My career gets to go at my rate, not at the demands of big business."
Passionate about recycling, she doesn't preach its benefits so much as she just lives it. Her instruments, clothing and artwork are almost all created or found from trash and thrift store treasures. The portraits and collages she creates seem to go hand in hand with her music, and in fact she says that her music has become what her art would sound like.
"My art actually started because I used to be car-less and I'd walk home down alleys and I'd find interesting things." While she hasn't found an abundance of alleys in Kansas City, she has found estate sales. "Since
moving here my art has gotten a lot more three-dimensional, and has a lot more stuff in it than previously when it was more paintings and collages."
Here is a recent review by my mom, Pat Elf (Maui, HI):
1. Seamstress....yes! yes! always was one of my favorites
2. Some Thoughts...fun/excellent background music
3. Ron's Appliance...clever!!
4. Where Would They Go?...was this Jef?, love it!
5. Dream a Little Dream...my favorite whistler, and the singing is excellent!!
6. Jerkalator....excellent & fun!
7. I'm Taking Your Stuff....fun!!
8. Ring of Fire...excellent!~!!
9. Beach Chair...negative
10. Jesus at the Hardware Store...absolutely love it!!!
11. I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You....adorable, yes, yes!!
12. Saddest Song I Ever Wrote...I do like this one!
13. In the Garden...yes! yes! yes!
14. Tenderness vs. Watering...absolutely love the background & you!
15. Bunny...is this really you, wow!!! it's awesome, what a wonderful voice you have, wow!
Love you, Mom :-)
Milo Ippolito, Gloomy Tunes Records (April 2003)
This terminally cheerful girl must have been knocked on the head during a tornado. Because Shari's definitely not in Kansas anymore. Shari Elf is plain goofy. And her album, I'm Forcing Goodness Upon You, is the most charming and refreshing collection of nonsequitur nonsense this side of Oz. Her homespun backup music makes you feel like you've got a center-sofa seat for a concert in the Elf family living room -- light acoustic strumming, bouncy accompaniment on the Casio-like Omnichord, whistling, even a sewing machine for percussion and guest vocals by Mom on speaker phone. If that's not endearing enough, Shari has the cutest babydoll voice this side of Junior High. This could only be pulled off by a grown woman pictured on her album cover in a tin-can tiara, blonde braids and a homemade monogrammed dress. Her lyrics are smart, undyingly optimistic and daffy as a screwball comedy. ... "He's a man of vision. He rides the bus, and dreams of one day owning a portable metal yardshed. Oh, the universe is unlimited," she sings on album opener Tenderness vs. Watering the Lawn Backward. Whether you're suffering through a string of bad dates (Jerk-o-later), trapped in a dead end job (Seamstress) or planning your own funeral (Some Thoughts on If I Should Die), Shari Elf has a song to lighten your load. ... "Hemming pants and dresses. Fixing rips and tears. Making fancy cushions, for some lady's chair," she sing over a rhythm section of sewing machine, scissors and pin box. Even mortality is worth a giggle in Shari's world. ... "There's a reoccurring problem that's been in my family for generations. We get very old, and then we die." But instead of worrying, she turns her thoughts to contemplating color schemes for her funeral flowers. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, anyone? When I die, I'm taking this album with me. Shari Elf will brighten your cloudiest skies with the cheerful determination of 1,000 Doris Days. Best of all, Shari delivers her sunshine with so much silliness, you won't even know it's good for you.
RootsTown Music Free-zine April 2002 (Belgium)
"As a listener, the only thing you gotta do is to let you get carried away in "Shari-land" and you're in for three quarters of an hour musical fun, a trip through an imaginary world, that seems to be great to live in."
About me, Shari Elf.
I started turning my funny little stories and poems into songs about 15 years ago, which was when I decided I needed to make a tape of the songs. Well, it took 15 years but I have finally made that tape/CD. I am so proud of myself!
Six of the songs on the CD are what I call "Shari's Big Omnichord Hits," they are songs recorded with my Omnichord being the only or principal instrument.
A few of the songs are just me and my $15 thrift store guitar (Bargain Bazaar-- I still remember the day I found it leaning against that shelf).
Always a big hit at open mikes, "Shari and the All Star
Seamstress Band" is basically a bunch of my friends who are willing to be called "the All Star Seamstress Band."
On percussion will be friends playing scissors, boxes of
pins and two Seamstresses playing sewing machines. It is not
always easy to get the sewing machine going to the beat but
that's the fun of it.
Two of the songs were produced for me by Interscope Records
in a 2 song demo deal. David Baerwald produced Jerk-a-lator and Larry Klien produced "Tenderness versus Watering the Lawn Backwards" for that demo deal arranged by Karyn Rachtman.
Be sure to look for a whole chapter about me and my art and where I find good junk to make art from in Mary Randolph Carter's new book "Big City Junk." (Nov. 6th 2001)
I am very proud of my Crochet Museum which I have founded since moving to Kansas City two years ago. There are pictures of this on my web site. Although I admire crochet
animals and other goofy things I am not a crochetter. I only
admire it and encourage it.
that is all my news for now
love your friend Shari Elf