Blessid state of mind

Blessid Union of Souls perform at Old Crow Bar in Middletown

Photos: Blessid Union of Souls (l-r) Chris Arduser, David Lessing, Eliot Sloan, Brian Lovely, Dave Ramos

By Scott Malan

Eliot Sloan is a positive thinking, inspirational musician. When we begin our conversation over the phone, the lead singer and pianist for Blessid Union of Souls cannot help but be cheerful, even when it comes to something as simple as the weather.

“Oh man, it’s beautiful outside,” Sloan says. “Ah man. This is the best time of year, man. This is it.”

It’s this attitude that has allowed Sloan to continue making music with the group for over 27 years.

Blessid Union of Souls is an alternative rock band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio. They reached critical fame during the mid-to-late ‘90s with their special blend of alt-rock: combining blues-based jam influences with power-pop and R&B. Through their heartfelt songwriting and popular singles such as “I Believe”, “Let Me Be the One”, and “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me)”, they achieved much, including a number one song on the Billboard charts and an RIAA certified gold album (for Home).

Along with Sloan, the current line-up consists of Brian Lovely (guitar), Chris Arduser (drums), David Lessing (keyboard), and Dave Ramos (bass). Sloan is the only remaining member of the original lineup.

“It’s one of those things, like, if I were ever a major league baseball player, I’d want to play on the same team the entire time if I could. It’s just one of those things that people kind of remember.”

Throughout its career, Blessid Union of Souls has toured regularly in Ohio and the rest of the country. On Nov. 3, the act will be returning to Middletown to perform at the Old Crow Bar. When asked if the band will play its most memorable hits, Sloan ensures fans will be pleased.

“Yeah. I mean, we’re always gonna play those. We’ve never done a show without doing ‘I Believe’ or ‘Hey Leonardo’. We’ll (also) be playing of lot of…I like to call them b-sides just ‘cause I’m from back in the day.”

Blessid also continues to write new material and perform it live, although Sloan is not a fan of worrying about the current trends in pop music. He takes a more personal approach when it comes to songwriting.

“I always just write what I feel. I don’t really go in there looking for a certain sound. … If it feels right for the band, then we use it … (if) Brian or I work on something together it’s gonna feel like us, just because it is us. Hopefully people will like it. I just don’t know how to be anything other than myself.”

The band feels local concerts, like the upcoming date at Old Crow Bar, only add to the special connection they have with the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas, as well as the rest of the state.

“Being from Cincinnati, and our music really starting in Cincinnati, and, you know, the station down here Q-102 was the first station that ever played our record, so there’s always that connection. But just around Ohio we’ve done so many shows. So yeah, there’s absolutely a deep connection.”

Speaking about the future of the band and what it entails, Sloan seems determined and hopeful.

“The band is writing some new songs. Hopefully within the next few months we’ll start releasing a few things every month, or a month and half, or something like that…instead of the traditional way with record companies.”

As far as live shows are concerned, Blessid Union plans on continuing to perform wherever and whenever they can.

“We’ve been in and out of town doing full band shows, private shows. Sometimes we do a couple of acoustic things when it’s just Brian and I. I’ve just been playing out in front of people for so long, and I’m not really like an extrovert either. I love doing it, just because it’s the music, and if we want to play it we go play it. God forbid I’ll ever have to get a job.”

It’s this kind of jovial energy that makes Sloan and Blessid Union of Souls so inspiring and attractive. Whether it’s discussing art, personal goals, or the motivational drive to spread good in the world, Sloan speaks enthusiastically.

“This is the beautiful thing about art: The things that you are able to accomplish, you personally, nobody else is able to do. Deliver what you want to deliver that’s in your heart, and from that, you have no idea the people that it’s going to connect with. That’s the beauty of the whole thing, man.”

Undoubtedly, Blessid Union of Souls’ art has connected with people all over the world. Its music is indicative of a certain era in time and influential to pop culture as a whole. Its sound and message have inspired fans in a myriad of ways, which is what Sloan describes as the thing he’s most proud of.

“I’m really proud that the music we’ve done has actually reached people and made a difference in people’s lives. Unless, you know, you just create a cure for cancer, a lot of times the things that you do are gonna be little and big at the same time. It may be just something that helps somebody’s day get by.”

Blessid Union of Souls plays Friday, Nov. 3 at Old Crow Bar, 1217 Jackson Lane in Middletown, Ohio. The show is $25 for all ages. For more information, please call 513.422.1905 or visit www.BlessidUnionofSouls.net 

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Scott Malan

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