Since most of you are in the Twin Cities, where we just had our first significant snow dumping of the season, I thought I'd share something seasonal today.
Back in 2001, I drove through plenty of snow on my way to the 400 Bar to see Eleni Mandell for the first time. I had read an amazing review of her then-new album Thrill, so I ordered a copy and was completely blown away. I saw she was coming to town, and I made sure I was there. Unfortunately, few others joined me. I couldn't even convince any friends to join me on a weeknight in the middle of winter, so off I went on my own.
Eleni played a beautiful acoustic solo set. After the show, she was by herself at the merch table. I bought a t-shirt and introduced myself. I thanked her for a great show and made my pitch. "I have this little hobby record label called Heart of a Champion... if you ever have any interest in doing anything... a single, a full-length, whatever... I'd love to put something out!" We exchanged contact info and a couple weeks later I received a cassette of fantastic outtakes from the Thrill sessions.
A couple months later, we put out a 7" single. The following year, Heart of a Champion did a vinyl pressing for her album Snakebite. Now in 2008, the label has six different releases from this ridiculously talented artist. The latest one was the vinyl pressing of her 2007 album Miracle of Five, which contains "Salt Truck."
I can not even remember if I told Eleni that "Salt Truck" was my favorite song on the album before my wife and I went to see her play in L.A. on our honeymoon last June. At that show, though, she dedicated it to us. It felt perfect. I can honestly say that working with and getting to know Eleni Mandell has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my small little corner of the music industry.
Eleni and me at the Heart of a Champion 5-year anniversary party in 2004.