Outlier, Anthony Garcia of Texas, guitarist, pianist and vocalist; and Melanie Lenau of Michigan, violinist and vocalist are a duo who met in the port town of Busan, South Korea while working there as English teachers. It was there in 2012 that they recorded their debut, self titled album Outlier. The album features a full band and is electric guitar centered,cinematic Americana with solos reaching back to the guitar hero tradition of Zeppelin and Hendrix, lyrics and songs that pay homage to Townes Van Zandt and Leonard Cohen, and haunting violin inspired by J.S. Bach, reflecting the duo’s formal classical training. The album has been described as “mariachiesque Queens of the Stone Age”;‘like something out of a Cormac McCarthy Novel”; songs that seem like they’re the ‘missing tracks from a Robert Rodriguez soundtrack”; and in Paris, France as “Americana Hypnotique” where the duo spent the spring and summer of 2014 touring. In addition to Paris, they toured through Prague, Greece, Ireland and Germany. That summer saw the recording of the duo’s second album Live in Berlin, which is largely a live acoustic interpretation of their debut album with a couple new songs recorded, as the title suggests, in front of a live audience in Berlin’s bohemian neighborhood, Prenzlauer Berg.
Live as a duo, their songs are brought to life with subtle, live percussive loops that Anthony creates on the fly by beating on his acoustic guitar, freeing him up to move over to the piano, on which he is classically trained. Melanie adds vocal harmonies and chordal violin accompaniment as well as gypsy, baroque solo lines. The texture of their duo performances reaches from the most tender vocal harmonies to a sprawling wall of sound.
While the duo has composed a substantial body of original music, their cover repertoire is vast and versatile reflecting their travels and love for songwriting. Their cover set includes traditional Irish, Spanish, obscure rock classics, blues, country (think Bob Wills and Willie), and even some jazz standards. Melanie also puts down the violin during their cover set and picks up the acoustic guitar to give a female touch to male songwriters such as Neil Young, John Prine, and Kurt Cobain among others.
In addition to traveling overseas playing music, the duo perform regularly through West Texas, the Texas Hill Country, New Mexico, and even Melanie’s native Michigan.
Here are some comments from places we’ve played...
"The Devil's Waltz" : Outlier offered us a pure and epic masterpiece of Americana, a mind blowing performance at the Café Oz, just a few meters away from Le Moulin Rouge in Paris” - Brislee Adams – Oz Bar, Blanche – Paris, France
“Dear Melanie and Anthony,
Thank you very much for your outstanding perfomance at the BORKE this summer! We had a great time listening to your wonderful music and enjoying the warm evenings with you at the Müggelsee. We would love to see you again the next time you visit Berlin so please feel welcome to join us whenever you'd like to. We can't wait to see you again -Best wishes from Berlin Your Team from Surf- und Segelschule Müggelsee” Berlin, Germany
“Outlier made such an impression while playing that I got a call while on vacation from the Bar Manager telling me how much she was enjoying the music, and could I please get them back asap. Outlier will always be welcomed to the Taos Inn with open arms.” -Peggy Nyamp – Entertainment Manager, Historic Taos Inn, Taos, NM
"These well-traveled artists have certainly brought their journeys to us with their rich and eclectic music. The staff and guests at the Pub have let me know how much they want Outlier back during our Sunday Music Series and I am happy to oblige!" - Grace O'Malley's Irish Pub, Ruidoso, NM
“We are so glad Outlier reached out to us for The Brighton Fine Arts and Acoustic Festival. Their unique and beautiful sound mesmerized the crowd. We had multiple attendees comment on how fantastic they were. We will be sure to have them back next year!” - Cal and Whitney Stone, 2 Stones Events, Brighton Fine Arts Festival, Brighton Michigan
“Outlier performed to an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd at the new Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea House. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, loved them! When they return to Sacred Grounds on August 29, our place will be packed, I am sure. The word is out in Ruidoso that this couple puts on a “don’t dare miss” performance of great music and professionalism. We are really looking forward to their return—again and again. ” - Will Ponder, Owner Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea House, Ruidoso, NM
“Outlier is a Funky Door fav! We love that they play everything and can even play to go with our Passport Series with music styles from around the globe, everything from rock to classical. Our guests are always amazed with the harmony and talent. There is nothing like it in West Texas. They also have some original music that is incredible, you need to get the CD. Anthony and Melanie are always a delight to work with, they make it easy. We have had them play for organizations and patio parties, they always do a great job of matching their music with what the vibe of the group needs to be. I highly recommend!” -Carrie Britton – Owner, Funky Door Bistro, Lubbock, Tx.
"Outlier's compositions, musicianship, and command of the stage are masterful. Each song is a journey... a wall of sound that is built up, crumbles, and is built back up again.” – Mike Edmunds – Ol’ 55 Bar, Busan, South Korea
"Outlier was a real addition to the live music scene at a few of our Sharky's locations while they were here in South Korea. Very professional, always on time, great with the crowd, and excellent musicians. I would have them play again in an instant at any Sharky's Bar and Grill locations." - Michael Schneider – Owner, Sharky’s Bar and Grill, Busan, South Korea
Of all the bands that have played at Sugar Joe’s throughout the many years Outlier by far ranks among the highest in every possible category. Not only have they become a crowd favorite due to their top notch musical ability and great original songs, but they possess a transcendent vibe of groove that takes the folks on a musical journey. Whether it is them doing a great rendition of a folk song (or blues or jazz or country or flamenco or rock or whatever other genre one can think of) or them doing one of their own tunes (“The Devil’s Waltz” and ‘Andromeda” are personal favorites) it is always one hundred percent musical sincerity and everyone in the room knows it and feels it. As such, the experience being shared has always been something special. They are true professionals and then some. Of the hundreds of people who have been fortunate enough to be at one their gigs, not one has left disappointed. This is not only because they are great musicians, but also because they are great people who truly care about what they do. No doubt about it, absolutely one of the best. - Jo Hee Jung, Proprietor: Sugar Joe’s, Buk-Gu, Daegu, South Korea
Photographer: Victor Mosqueda