ellen cherry
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ellen cherry

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1996 | SELF

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1996
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"ellen cherry, a spirit in indie music"

Judging by the cover art, you might expect the ellen cherry primer to coast on the wave of 1970s nostalgia that's been so passionately embraced by people too young to remember the 1970s. In truth, however, ellen cherry, an independent Baltimore trio is more relevant than many of the major-label bands you've heard this year.

Relevant how? Let's start with the Lyrics. Lyrics so sincere they make you want to give all those overcooked boy bands who croon that their "heart is crying out for you" a good, violent shake. "Erase my mind/Erase that part of me/The wasted time's the only tragedy," sings Kristin Putchinski, ellen cherry's impossibly charming lead singer and songwriter. The underlying themes are common enough--lost love, found love, good love, bad love--but they don't sound rehashed here. Putchinski sings with a rawness and passion that insinuates genuine emotion. At times, she resembles a more earth-bound Natalie Merchant, as on "Waste of Time," all bluesy, bitter and defiant.

Well-backed by bassist Andy McCallum, whose bass ling spring forth as the cathiest part of "Break A String," and Drew Moody, who lends his toy piano playing skills on at least one track, ellen cherry creates a do-it-yourself sound that would feel well at home on the Teenbeat Records label. "Sun's Afire" opens with a guitar hook that'll stick in your head for days, and the jam on "Uncrossed" is as organic as Phish. This recent addition to the local music scene is a welcome reminder that indie-rock continues to be a spirit in an industry that often attempts to make it a genre.
- Metro Weekly (byline: Will Doig)

"Running Her Own Show"

It's a mutliple personality disorder waiting to happen.

Kristin Putchinski, front-woman for the Baltimore trio ellen cherry, obviously will respond to the name Kristin, but she also answers to Ellen, a throwback to her days when she used the moniker as a solo stage name.

Others seem confused by ths situation, since Putchinski said people who have known her for a s while sometimes forget and call her Ellen.

"You can be something on stage and be a performer and have something, and still come home and be Kristin," said Putchinski, whose band as a CD release party Monday at Iota Cafe for the new self-financed album, "the ellen cherry primer." "When I write emails and just want to remind people of the band, I'll just sign it both 'KP" and 'EC.'

It's fun, too, because it gives you an out. If there are people who want to call me Ellen and don't want to know my name, that's fine too. Good for them," she added with a laugh.

Originally from Dallas, Putchinski is no stranger to bands called ellen cherry. The latest incarnation has her teamed with drummer Drew Moody and bass player/guitarist Andy McCallum, but the ellen cherry in New Orleans a few years ago had Putchinski playing cello with a violinist and bass player. And the original ellen cherry dates back to when she was a student at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

In college, Putchinski was a big fan of author Tom Robbins, and his book, "Skinny Legs and All," featured a female character named Ellen Cherry Charles, an artist who travels the country, which sounds a lot like Putchinski herself.

"It's got a girl's name in it," she said. "It's got fruit. It's perfect."

What else did she need? For starters, a guitar. During her sophomore year at Hendrix she bought a cheap Mitchell acoustic--"I think it was made out of formica or something," the 26 year old singer said--and would harass people until they taught her chords.

With a knowledge of music from playing cello and piano, Putchinski began writing lyrics and melodies simultaneously, and she said an indescribable feeling motivated her to perform publicly.

"I'm not really that good at very many things, but this is like the one thing I feel like I know how to do. I'm like 'Maybe I should do it because I don't want to waste this,'" said Putchinski, who works as a graphic artist when she's not being a musician.

"It's very much like an exhibitionist personality that a lot of performers have to deal with, the fact that in a way, they are exhibitionists," she said. "You can just play in your basement and be happy, but something makes you want to tell other people what you're feeling. To me, it's always been therapeutic. I can have this feeling and express it, and have other people come up to me and say, 'I felt that exact same way, abut I didn't know how to say it.'"

She said her sound was folkier and quieter in the beginning, but on "the ellen cherry primer," Putchinski matchers her higher-pitched singing voice with heaver electric tones. The reason for this rockier direction was simple: "I got an electric guitar and I discovered distortion" after a few years of finger-picking jumbo acoustics and building hand strength, she said.

"When I moved to electric, oh my gosh, it was like I had discovered gold or something. When you move from acoustic to electric, it just feels like you're on vacation."

The new album because her first chance to rock out with new and old songs, six of which were written during the Arkansas years. One was entitled "6-4-4" Putchinski said, because the band couldn't rmeember the length of the song's bridge--six measure, then four, then a four bar violin solo.

Of the seven newer songs, which were written since her September 2000 move to Baltimore, the moodily groovy "Waste of Time" is the pinnacle of her songwriting, she said, and offers some of the best rhyme schemes she's concocted, such as "Wasted on me are your tears of shame/Silly was I as I played your game."

The band experimented with different sounds and instruments, such as cello and toy piano in "The Meanest Waltz." The song, the most polished on the album, was penned five days before the band's three-day New York recording session in December, but Putchinski said seven hours were spent on that song alone.

"It's the most indie-sounding becaues it has a waltz beat and a lot of interesting stuff," she said. "I wish that we had the time we spent on that one song for all of them."

Putchinski was glad to see the band members bond during the sessions, because when the group was getting ready to leave New York and drive home, the three musicians discovered their equipment had been stolen from their van.

"It was like a dream, I couldn't believe it was happening. I was standing outside, giving my report to the police and I was like, 'This isn't real. They're going to bring it bac, right?'" Putchinski said. "Even on the drive home, I thought, 'Well, we have this album in our hands and no one got hurt.' If it had been a crappy weekend and we'd hated each other, we would have broken up right there."

With the new CD, her sixth recording, Putchinski wants to make a push for exposure and radio play. With eye-catching marketing in mind, she said, she let Moody dray caricatures of himself and his bandmates in school-themed situations for the liner notes, including kids on the playground, kids engaging in a food fight and somebody getting their gym shorts yanked down, also known as getting "pantsed."

"I was like, 'Well, let's just call it 'the ellen cherry primer' so it's like an introduction for people. It's like the first schoolbook," said Putchinski, who didn't think her caricature was an accurate representation of herself.

"The good thing about Drew is that he does have a great artistic sensibility, but the person that he concentrated on the most was himself."

One benefit of not being tied to a major label is a certain lack of pressure. Putchinski said that when her band opened for Shannon McNally in Annapolis, MD, in January, the Capitol Records-signerd singer said she had to seel a million albums to break even with the money the label had shelled out. For "the ellen cherry primer," Putchinski has to seel 320 CDs total, and she sold 10 last week.

Once ellen cherry starts making a profit, Putchinski said she wants to get back in the studio, hopefully in the fall. This time, the amps wlil be cranked all the way up to 11.

- The Journal Newspaper (byline: Brian Truitt)

"Head Bob and High Five"

Ellen Cherry is a character from a Tom Robbins novel but “ellen cherry” is also a trio of spunky rock musicians from Baltimore, MD that deserve a second, third and fourth listen, as well as a little head-bobbin’, high-fivin’ and a CD purchase. Despite the heartbreak of having essentially all of their music equipment stolen shortly before completion of their latest recording, the band managed to finish their project and is about to embark on a slew of performances to promote their new CD “The ellen cherry Primer”.

Kristin Putchinski fronts ellen cherry on lead vocals, guitar and occasional cello. The band’s web page at MP3.com cites a comparison to The Cranberries, yet Putchinski’s voice is not as siren-esque and wailing as Delores O’Riordan but more smooth, clean and clearly emotive along the lines of a modern folk-pop songstress like Lori Carson. Her lyrics are mainly love themes, sometimes dark and longing; “…and so I dreamed you like the snow, falling to my bed…”(Break A String) and sometimes very sweet and light-heartedly romantic; “…I watch you watch the stars. I watch you from so far, my chosen one…”(Irish Folk Song). Kristin also adds great melodic colors with her cello skills on several songs.

“The ellen cherry Primer” comes across initially as a folk-rock record with it’s foundation rooted in Kristin’s voice and acoustic guitar (as well as the presence of cello, mandolin and harmonica) but after spending time with it I was struck by how many genre flavors these guys conjure. There are aspects of the CD that remind me of jam-band rock hybrids like the 90’s band Jellyfish (on the song “The Meanest Waltz”) and of jazzy groove-rock like that of Sadé (on the song “Waste Of Time”). There’s also a little Toad The Wet Sprocket kind of folk-rock vibe, an Americana rock-ish feel like that of The Band and a lot of singer/songwriter appeal for fans of Aimee Mann, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, etc.

The full spectrum of ellen cherry’s sound is the result of a couple of rhythm and nuance kings: Andy McCallum on bass and Drew Moody on drums. McCallum and Moody are very tight on this disc and they present a solid and tasteful backbone to Kristin’s guitar, voice and words. They also play a multitude of different parts and instruments on the CD, including a toy piano and toy glockenspiel, that expand the overall feel of each song. This is especially highlighted on the song “The Meanest Waltz” which is the most produced song on the recording and definitely an impressive performance. Drummer/percussionist Drew Moody designed the CD artwork as well, which features adorable cartoon drawings of the band, sticking to the “primer” theme with hilarious scenes of ellen cherry as school kids.

The production and arrangements on the disc are excellent, seemingly calibrated by the band and recording engineer/co-producer Spencer Chakedis at Balloon Heaven in Brooklyn, NY. Chakedis also performs on the CD, lending tracks of harmonica, lead guitar, mandolin and lap steel. Overall there is a lo-fi, do-it-yourself sonic quality to the recording with occasional mix fluctuations and level quirks but it is very well put together and an extremely enjoyable listen. My favorite song on “The ellen cherry Primer” is “Jezebel”, a really eerie and sensual piece which I feel stands out quite a bit on the 13-song disc for it’s darker, more introspective, quality that might fall in the songwriting realm of intense spirit-rockers like Jeff Buckley, James Hall or Amy Ray.

ellen cherry is the brainchild of Kristin Putchinski who has braved the indie music world with various incarnations of her band since the mid 90’s. This new project is the culmination of a lot of hard work and financial acrobatics, no small feat after their devastating theft in NYC. “The ellen cherry Primer” is a great piece of work that will appeal to music lovers of all kinds
- Alien Girl Radio (byline: Dawn Dineen)

""a clear, strong, believable voice""

Years is billed as a concept album, one that deals with life changing events in the life of a woman. On paper that could come across as a stilted, contrived excuse to underline the feminist's plight throughout history (or more aptly, herstory). On paper, that indeed may have been the case, but it's a far cry from the reality of music, Ellen Cherry's music specifically. Her clear, strong, believable voice is the ideal vehicle for these mini lessons in history, and perhaps more importantly, lessons in emotional personal trials and triumphs. The first cut, "1864: A Civil War Bride" serves as the introduction to Cherry's ability to tie actual events to genuine feelings and emotions. No doubt she drew on what she calls her "totally impractical" BA in military history to weave this tale of a war bride. Nostalgic yes, but unfortunately all too relevant today too. This Dallas-area native's own background is as storied as the fictional characters inhabiting her songs. Ellen Cherry is actually a pseudonym for Kristen Putchinski, a singer/songwriter/musician recording engineer/producer/designer whose side projects include playing with a Simon and Garfunkel tribute duo, an alt-Irish band, an 80s cover band, and a roots rock band, and has scored several indie films. Ellen/Kristen is also the owner of a recording studio, Wrong Size Shoes. No wonder she's got two persona; there's simply too much to do for just one person.

And no surprise that this Baltimore musical powerhouse is also the owner of a slightly warped and entirely enchanting sense of humor.

"1950: Inside the Music Box" sounds, on the surface, as light and breezy as the old radio laundry soap ad jingles---- until you get to the part where little Miss Suzy Homemaker admits to incendiary/pyromania leanings:

"Dusting cleaning, meals with meaning, perfect pastries…
Soon I can erase my will
By a swallow of a pill
If I had not squelched desire
I might have set this house on fire."

Ellen/Kristen or however she signs her checks deserves checking out. Whether she's putting music to her college thesis or shedding light on the secrets of multiple personalities, there's something about Cherry/Pritinski's particular (or peculiar) take on life that's definitely worth a listen. Repeatedly.

- Rocknworld.com

""determined to preserve the spirit of folksingers""

The vast majority of contemporary singer-songwriters have one thing in common: they write about their own lives. Topical and historical songs have never truly been in vogue since the dissolution of the folk movement of the 1960s. If you take a trip to a local coffeehouse, though, you might encounter a performer like Ellen Cherry. With her EP Years, Cherry seems determined to preserve the spirit of folksingers like Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. Each track is written from the point of view of a woman in a specific period of history, but these are not larger-than-life historical figures. They are everyday people, and with her skillful poetry and dexterous songwriting Cherry manages to capture both the individuals and the spirit of their times. Years is a modest record, but its sincerity and craftsmanship make it feel much bigger than it actually is.

Cherry ..... is uncommonly sincere, and her unadorned vocals give the songs on Years the universality they require. She self-recorded the album in her own Wrong Size Shoes Studios, and wisely avoids modern production. The album is intimate, loose, and sounds neither modern nor outdated. The production also directs the focus to Cherry's outstanding lyrics. The songs focus on events like the Civil War and the sinking of the Titanic, and are rich with poetry. In "1893: A Girl At The World's Fair," Cherry gives voice to a woman who disappeared at the Chicago Columbian Exposition held that year: "This was the story of my liberty / a cog in the grinding gears of the city / a line in a novel a hundred years from now / that's what's left of me."

The album's first five songs are stunning, highlighted by the sorrowful "1912: Violet Swims, But The Ship Sinks," an exquisite sketch based on the true story of Violet Jessup, a woman who survived the sinking of the Titanic. The song opens with an a cappella passage and adds subdued piano, before a mournful chorus of background singers laments the doomed ship's fate. Cherry's only misstep is a bonus track she tacked on to the record, the country-influenced "1976: Buffalo Gals Don't Worry About Fashion." The song is a decent genre exercise, but it is an underwhelming conclusion to an otherwise impressive album.

By writing through the eyes of women in history, Cherry has created a thought-provoking work that makes a grand statement without raising its voice. It is an intelligent, modest record that offers a refreshing contrast to the self-involved singer-songwriters that flood the airwaves. Cherry varies the style and mood of her songs enough to make each stand out as a distinct piece of work. It is both fluid and varied, and it does exactly what music should do: make us feel joy, make us feel pain, make us think, and make our lives a little bit more rewarding.

-Dan Warren

- Hybrid Magazine

""endearing and sentimental with tales that are topical""

A mighty three-years older than me, Ellen Cherry must feel old. Why? Because I feel like any moment my knees might give out because I’m the wopping old age of 28! Cherry’s vocals are endearing and sentimental with tales that are topical. Her folksy sound belies the ease of the delivery with slight genre-twisting throughout “Years”. Often commanding a very demanding and striking voice, the alluring songstress known as Ellen Cherry will surprise even the most seasoned veteran of folk-pop music. - Smother Magazine

""a golden voice, a great guitar style""

Ellen Cherry – whose real name, curiously is Kristin Putchinski – is a singer/songwriter blessed with a golden voice, a great guitar style and the ability to write smart and well-crafted songs rapidly enough that she could probably make money as a Nashville tunesmith.

Years, which was entirely written during the month of February to make a self-imposed deadline, Cherry successfully marries American history and pop song into captivating songs that allow her, and the listener, to see various historical eras from the point of view of various women: A Civil War Bride, AGirl At The 1893 World’s Fair, a Tiantic survivor, a Depression-era migrant to California, a suburban housewife and a bonus tracks called “Buffalo Gals Don’t Worry About Fashion”.

Sound boring and academic? It isn’t, not even close. The songs are beautiful, emotional pop songs delivered in an instantly appealing style and if you’re not listening closely you might not even know the conceptual premise behind the songs. Most songs are delivered with guitar and voice but the fifth track really stands out with its ‘music box’ accompaniment that is a perfect fit for the title, “Inside the Music Box”. The last track has a full band but they have a gentle lilting sound with brushes used on the drums, and it fits nicely with the other songs on the album.

Highly recommended for fans of female singer/songwriters and folk-pop in general. I get a hell of a lot of CDs in the mail from the hippest and most respected music bands out there, but this one has been in my CD player more than anything else over the last month and if that’s not a sign of a great record….

Gordon B. Isnor
- Left Hip Magazine


"Portraits" (2016)

"Please Don't Sell the Piano" (2012)

"(New) Years" (2010)
Original Score for documentary, "Happy/S.A.H.D" completed June 2009
Original score for live shaddow puppet piece, "Alonzo's Lullaby" completed May 2009
"heart like a lion" (2008)
"re*dress: songs from the film 'For the Want of A Queen'" (2005)
"Years" (2005)
Soundtrack and original score for the movie "Not Another Tolkein Movie" (2004)
"the dizzy pleasure club" (2004)
"the ellen cherry Primer" (2002)
"Demo deux" (2001)
"Waste of Time" (2000)
"Lips and Bones and Knees and Elbows" (1999)
"Demo" (1998)
"Careful" (1997)



Emmy nominated singer/songwriter ellen cherry is a full-time touring and working performer based in Baltimore, MD. She has licensed her music to the Oxygen Network, MTV, and Soap.net. In 2009, she wrote, recorded and performed a TV campaign for FOX Networks and also composed the score for a shadow puppet piece entitled “Alonzo’s Lullaby”, which has been awarded the prestigious UNIMA Citation of Excellence. She has been awarded a Ruby Grant for filmmaking (2015), a Puffin Foundation Grant for Environmental Issues (2015), a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards for Vocal Performance (2007) and Music Composition (2009) and founded her own studio and label, Wrong Size Shoes, in 2004. Recording continuously since 1997, her most recent albums, "Please Don't Sell the Piano" (2012) and "(New) Years" (2010), crosses genres, artfully displaying her talents in folk, pop, jazz, and instrumental music. ellen cherry mesmerizes her audience with her powerful voice and uses her keen, on-the-fly sense of humor to weave history, storytelling, and melody together.

Once a character in a novel, ellen cherry sprung from the pages of a book in 1997, and began her life as a living, breathing, dynamic performer. Mixing equal parts of pathos and humor throughout her songs, ellen cherry is mysterious and powerful on stage. She seamlessly fuses her love of History, Poetry, and Literature with the Usual Suspects of Love, Loss, and Despair, with a powerful, commanding voice and a command of Power Chords on her guitar.

Although the past has included the excitement over an Emmy nomination and a prestigious Puppetry award, ellen has no plans to sit back and relax. She's already hard at work on the next batch of songs, as well as taking several forays into the world of producing works of other artists such as The Ernie Fowler Trio (ellen Executive Produced and Co-Produced their 2010 EP "Life's Lessons Learned"). Earlier in the year, ellen also collaborated as a producer on a live poetry event called "Live at the Corner of Poetry and Main" with her close friend, Cliff Lynn. She's currently hard at work at the production of a live cd compilation of those readings.
ellen has recently been commissioned for an album of songs by the Maryland Historical Society, as well as serving as the Music Director for the prestigious (and hilarious) Stoop Storytelling Radio Program.

An artist incapable of stopping the process of creation, ellen cherry has recorded and released original music continuously since 1997. Although her main instruments are acoustic and electric guitar and voice, ellen also writes, records and performs on piano, 'cello, squeezebox, mandolin, and the jitterbug (an instrument that has not been invented yet.) Her style has been described as “intimate, elegant pop music."  

"heart like a lion shows off a varied talent that goes beyond the standard girl-with-guitar... and effective musicality throughout"
--Joel Sparks, On Tap Magazine, Washington, DC

"[Years] is both fluid and varied, and it does exactly what music should do: make us feel joy, make us feel pain, make us think, and make our lives a little bit more rewarding."

"...more relevant than many of the major-label bands you've heard this year... a welcome reminder that indie-rock continues to be a spirit in an industry that often attempts to make it a genre.”
--Will Doig, Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.

"...plucky guitar melodies... fresh slices of spunky downer pop."
--Bret McCabe, City Paper, Baltimore, MD

"...a cross between Cowboy Junkies and Liz Phair."
--Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Pop Music Critic, Baltimore Sun

A full-time musician since 2004, ellen cherry has been touring nationally and internationally, playing intimate house concerts, gracing festival stages.


Hendrix College, Conway, AR
University of Maryland, College Park, MD
George Mason University, Washington, DC
College of Southern Maryland, La Plata, MD
University of North Texas, Denton, TX
University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Anne Arundel Community College, Annapolis, MD
Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD
University of Dallas, Dallas, TX
Towson University, Baltimore, MD
Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH
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Lawrence University, Appleton, WI