Anything but ...
by Shelby C. Berry
“My family loved music, but they aren’t musical themselves,” Crystal said. “I was a quiet kid and expressed myself by putting things down on paper. It grew with me, and after high school, I got a guitar. It was a vehicle for songwriting for me. It was more about the writing than playing the instrument.” crystal damore
Focusing on minimalism, Pete and Crystal Damore capture audiences with emotionally vulnerable songs. The husband and wife duo, Ordinary Elephant, blends their voices and instruments for an intimate and honest sound. But it’s always been about the lyrics, what the songs say to the listener —especially for Crystal.
Pete was raised in the musical town of Austin, Texas and began playing the guitar when he was twelve. Inspired early on by The Beatles, Pete eventually found himself drawn to all sorts of music, specifically the melody, harmony, and rhythm of that music.
While each had different routes that led them to music, Pete and Crystal’s lives changed one night in 2009 at an open mic in College Station, Texas.
Crystal had just moved to town after finally getting comfortable performing on stage, and she found herself in a room full of other songwriters and musicians. One of those musicians was Pete.
After years of growth in both songwriting and instrumentation at this weekly open mic, Pete and Crystal began performing together with Pete’s new instrument in tow — a banjo he bought online.
Although he has since upgraded his instrument, that banjo allowed him to play Crystal’s songs in a new way. The duo worked incredibly hard on their music while working full-time as a veterinary cardiologist and computer programmer, respectively—until they made a bold choice.
“We went to Asheville, North Carolina for a show, and the culture and the music there was so cool. We had seen a blog by people living full-time in an RV. It’s more common now, but back then, it was this amazing thing!” said Crystal. “We ended up deciding to do it! I quit my job, and Pete still worked full-time while we traveled. We started doing more open mics and getting a feel for all these music scenes around the country.”
Pete eventually quit his job and the band and went full force into creating and performing music, which paid off.
In 2017, Ordinary Elephant found themselves as International Folk Music Awards Artist of the Year, awarded by Folk Alliance International, making them feel validated in their music like never before.
Being on the road gave Crystal the breathing room to be the creative songwriter she wanted to be.
“I feel like we straddle different worlds,” said Pete. “Our strength is in the poetry of the songwriting. It feels to us like it’s what sets us apart. People connect the most with that. When the show is over, and people come to talk to us, it’s almost always about how the lyrics touched them and moved them to tears. We go for that connection with people.”
Ordinary Elephant mostly writes songs from other points of view, opening up a better understanding of other people around the world.
In 2018 while on the road, Crystal and Pete found themselves writing countless songs without a plan. Without even realizing it, they had completed an album.
“The songs we had written fit together cohesively without us planning for them to,” said Pete.
With some encouragement from friends, they funded their most recent album, Honest, through a Kickstarter campaign. They blew everyone away with the album — a genuine representation of them as artists.
Today, Ordinary Elephant plans to record another album while touring the country. To keep up with what’s coming up for them, subscribe to their Patreon for special recordings, releases, and announcements.
The band’s name originated organically. “There is no such thing as an ordinary elephant,” said Crystal.
Listening to Ordinary Elephant, you understand what that means — many ordinary things turn out to be extraordinary. Ordinary Elephant couldn’t have been more right.