Blue Cartoon Bio
After a long musical collaboration in the San Francisco/San Jose area, Jeff Tracy and Lee Elliott transplanted themselves to Austin, Texas in the early 90's, and soon afterward formed Blue Cartoon. To date, the group has released four outstanding albums and has contributed to several compilation and tribute albums. One notable characteristic of Blue Cartoon is that the band has always included multiple accomplished songwriters. This has infused Blue Cartoon's music with a wide, yet cohesive, range of influences, but with the songs still sounding uniquely Blue Cartoon.
The earliest version of the group included Lee Elliott on bass, guitar and vocals, Jeff Tracy on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Barry Simon on drums and vocals and John McElhenney as lead vocalist. With this lineup the group released two albums; 1997's self titled "Blue Cartoon" (produced by Ron Flynt of 20/20 fame), and "Downtown Shangri-La" in 1999.
By 2002, David Loren had replaced John McElhenney as Blue Cartoon's lead singer and John Valadez had joined the group as guitarist and backup singer, with Lee Elliott adding keyboards to his bass and vocals role. With this new lineup Blue Cartoon released their definitive "The Wonder Of It All" album, a critically acclaimed pop-rock masterpiece. By the group's own description, some of their influences include the three great B's of pop (Beatles, Byrds and Badfinger) along with a broad mixture of other pop and rock nuances from the past forty years. The songs on the "Wonder Of It All" album unfold with this and so much more. Ringing guitars, beautifully melodies and rich harmonies prevail through the whole album and are enhanced by the inventive production and cameo appearances of instruments like the sitar.
By the 2006 release of their fourth album, "September Songs", the group had changed personnel again, with Allan Vassberg joining the group on bass and vocals, thus moving Lee Elliott to guitar, keyboards and vocals. The new album unveiled a mellower and more "Austinated" side of the band. With pop sensibilities still present throughout, the album emphasizes folk rock influences more than on previous albums.
Time has its way with bands, and Blue Cartoon is no exception. By 2009 the group was down to the three constant members; David Loren, Lee Elliott and Jeff Tracy. After the release of "September Songs" the group did limited performances and these were more acoustic based than during the "Wonder Of It All" period. At about the same time the group were having discussions about how to move forward and revitalize the band as a performing entity, Terry Carolan was reading a note Lee Elliott had sent to Audities co-founder Gary Littleton in 1997 as Audities was auditioning material for their ill fated "Insanely Great Pop, Volume One" album. After Gary's untimely death in 2008, Terry had inherited a crate full of cassette tapes from Littleton, and in the crate were the letter, and a Blue Cartoon tape. The letter described the band's history and that they had relocated to Austin in 1992. Carolan, who had relocated to Austin again in 2005, had recently begun to wonder what The Next Big Thing would be. Siezing the moment , Terry located Lee Elliott and Jeff Tracy and suggested they get together. Once conversations started it was apparent that the fit was so perfect it was hard to believe. After a very short time, and with no live audition, Terry was invited to join Blue Cartoon on guitar, vocals and keyboards. During the previous month Terry had met Mike Reynolds. Mike had been recommended to Terry a year earlier by a friend who said Mike was a "very musical drummer" who loved pop music. In early January, 2010, Terry Carolan and Mike Reynolds rehearsed for the first time with Blue Cartoon. Mike was a very musical drummer indeed and his natural instinct for Blue Cartoon's music was uncanny, while Carolan's guitar and vocals slid perfectly in place to add to the foundation of the group. Lee Elliott gracefully moved back to being the group's bass player and David Loren and Jeff Tracy carry on the trademark vocal and guitar melodies that are so integral to Blue Cartoon's sound. With the new lineup, and revitalized energy for all, Blue Cartoon began work on their fifth studio album, ultimately called "Are You Getting On?", and released in March of 2013.
Shortly after recording, mixing and art work for the album were completed, Terry decided to leave the group. While the three years in Blue Cartoon had been rewarding, the band was moving in a more progressive rock direction, and Terry found it difficult to "find any space for expression" within the band. While Terry has called "Are You Getting On?" an "album I wouldn't have made on my own", he has also referred to the album as "a true piece of art". Included on the album are three of Terry's songs; "Solo Rita", "Every Day's A Saturday" and "The Primrose Path".