On July 17, Gardiner’s Waterfront Park will be the site of a 5:30 p.m. concert featuring the sextet known as Amy & The Engine, which was formed in 2013-14. It is made up of six musicians: Tyler Perry (not the actor) — vocals, guitar; Ben Kling — mandolin, keyboards; Vinny Silva — lead guitar; Manuel Ruiz — drums; Blain Crawford — bass; and is fronted by Amy Allen. Now, if that name seems familiar, it should: Allen, a South Portlander, has three solo EPs under her belt and has garnered two awards from the Portland Phoenix (“Best New Act” and “Best Female Vocalist”) … she is also a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston and it was there that she was reached for a telephone interview recently.

Q: I went to your website and really enjoyed hearing your new song “I Got You” … is that the direction you’re heading with your new band?

Allen: Yeah, that was our first attempt of a single — we’re going into the studio in a couple of weeks to record the second and third singles — but that was our first one and we recorded it in my friend’s bedroom. The three of us recorded it.

Q: On the website there are six names listed, but the band photo has four of you in it.

Allen: Yes, we are in the process of updating the pictures because there really is six of us. The new picture is on our Facebook page.

Q: I’ve not heard your solo EPs so I can’t really compare the new single with what you’ve done musically in the past. How would you compare then and now?

Allen: I think that now is a more fully realized version of what I’ve worked for — and what I am always working towards. I’m drawing from influences from The Beatles to classic rock and a lot of indie influences, as well. I came from a bluegrass background when I was playing in Maine so there’s a lot of folk and bluegrass influences. We have a mandolin player, as well.

Q: Your tour schedule is quite full for this month and next?

Allen: Yes, we’re going to be super busy but we’re excited. We have a lot of stuff coming up, but it’s all good stuff.

Q: As far as your performances go with The Engine, do you cover some of your older material from your solo days?

Allen: Yeah, we do a couple of my old material right now. One that is currently in our set is called “Old Cloud” which I wrote a little while back that I used to play solo but now I’m playing with the band, which is nice.

Q: What I liked about the single was that it was fresh, up-beat, catchy and loaded with vocal harmonies: a certain weakness of mine, I must confess.

Allen: Well, thank you. We love harmonizing together — that’s our favorite part of the whole arranging process, after we write a song finding the different harmonies and different ways we can make the song come across. That’s also a favorite part of ours.

Q: Do any of the other four members sing?

Allen: Well, we just started getting together our trio with the drummer, Manuel — he plays percussion in the trio — so he’s going to start singing, as well; but as of right now it’s just Tyler and I doing the vocals.

Q: When you perform, will it be the trio or will it be all six members?

Allen: Most of the gigs that are listed on the website are full band — all of the festivals are full-band, as well — pretty much the trio we do for smaller venues and smaller, more acoustic settings.

Q: Does Amy & The Engine seem to be what you’ve been looking for as far as the sound and style goes?

Allen: Definitely! Yeah, Tyler and I — when we first heard each other’s songs in class in September — kind of instantly gravitated towards each other because I came from a little bit more of a pop background and he came a little bit more from a folk background. We balance each other out really nicely and it was just so natural. The two of us felt like we had always been needing the other counterpart — it was really nice for us. The band has just taken form around us so nicely — it’s a really eclectic group and we have a lot of fun making music together.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to folks reading this article?

Allen: I think, at least for the Maine audiences, it’s really important for people to know — if they are familiar with the music I made prior as Amy Allen — is that I basically started this new band with my friends from Berklee. We’re kind of an indie/folk/pop band, I’d say, with a focus mainly on songwriting—we’re just really excited about sharing our music with everyone … it’s still me and I’m still playing everything that I was but I’m evolving and growing as an artist and this is just the realization of what I’ve been working towards forever. It’s new and improved and pushing the boundaries a little bit! (www.amyandtheengine.com)

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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