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Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004 03:05 am

Her Reputation precedes her, and it’s all good

The Reputation performs Thursday at Underground City Tavern

At age 19, Elizabeth Elmore was in a band. Sounds like a lot of 19-year-olds in college at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, right? That's where the similarity ends. Elmore's group, Sarge, became a darling of the critics, getting write-ups in Rolling Stone, Spin, Playboy, and kudos from Greil Marcus, granddaddy critic of the pop music world. After three records, constant touring and the promise of greater things to come, the band broke up in 1999.

Elmore, a 1993 Rochester High School graduate, was devastated by the dissolution of the group and the repercussions involved in the dissolving relationships between band members. She went musically solo for a while and started law school at Northwestern University. As the muse returned, as did the need for expression, the singing guitarist began looking around for musicians to start the band process. Reunited with the drummer from Sarge and a bassist and guitarist from popular Chicago groups, she hit the road, toured for a bit and quickly got into the studio to record her newest compositions.

Jay Bennett of Wilco fame and fairy godfather to credible musicians trying to get a break helped out with 2002 recording. It received a No. 2 rating in the Los Angeles Times and six critics' picks for Top 10 records of 2002 in the Village Voice. After more touring (masochistically, according to Elmore), the group headed back into the studio, this time with Mike Hagler (Wilco, Neko Case, Mekons) at King Size Studios and former Springfield resident Dan Dietrich at Wall to Wall Studios. The album To Force a Fate is scheduled for a 2004 April release on the popular underground label Lookout! Records, home of Green Day, the Donnas and Rancid, among others.

Elmore's music has been described as pop rock and her voice as a choirgirl's. It would slip right in on your local Top 40 rock station. The churning melodies fueled by chiming electric guitars and the solid rhythms of bass and drum, form a solid base for her ruminations on relationships and observations on life as seen through the perceptive eyes of a law school student and former hot name in the music biz. What's in store for the future of the rock & roll girl from the one-stoplight town of Rochester, Ill.? It all depends on the success of The Reputation and the desires of Elizabeth Elmore.

The Reputation, featuring Elizabeth Elmore, performs Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Underground City Tavern, Hilton Springfield, 700 East Adams St. with local indie-rockers Resident Genius. The show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $4.


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Friday Sept. 20th