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BMS Spotlight: Eli Shanks

Category: BMS NEWS Monday, May 12th, 2014 Eli and greenhouse_web

Nineteen-year-old BMS Alumni, Eli Shanks, was a guitar student of both Will Dick and Brendan Burns, and took trumpet lessons with Tom Halter. Eli participated in John Purcell’s Jazz/Rock ensembles and performed in several BMS concerts, including Monterey ’67, BROOKstock and BROOKstock II, in addition to the biannual BMS Rocks Roggie’s shows. “I love those concerts, they were always really fun,” Eli said. Not only did he play guitar, Eli rocked the harmonica and sang several parts during the concerts, performing with more than one band.
Eli graduated from Brookline High last May and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he is managing a greenhouse, called Abby Lee Farms. The farm hydroponically grows tomatoes, basil, lettuce, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers. The tomato plants can grow close to ten feet and workers need to wear stilts to reach them. “We have to lower them or they’ll hit the roof,” Eli explained, “In total they can be 40 feet long before we take them out.” Eli moved to Phoenix to learn everything he can about farming, as he works toward having a farm of his own.
Eli on stiltsFarm work keeps Eli busy, though he makes plenty of time to play music. Eli continues to play guitar, harmonica and sing on a daily basis and with others a few times weekly. Eli concluded, “There are so many open mics, you wouldn’t believe it!”  
Locating to a new place has motivated Eli to listen to more blues, country and folk songsmiths. “When I moved out here, I didn’t have a band anymore so I started getting into guys like Todd Snider who tell good stories and write good songs. He doesn’t need a band to win the audience. I also love Johnny Cash and I am always learning more of his songs. Also Jesse Fuller, who Will Dick introduced me to, is still one of my favorite musicians. He’s a real one man band.”
Besides managing a greenhouse and playing music, Eli likes to cook and has done some woodworking. His finished pieces include a shed, table and electric cigar box guitar.
Eli and guitarEli’s music study at Brookline Music School was only the beginning. “I loved going to guitar lessons at BMS and ensemble and all the concerts. It was fun and made me comfortable enough playing music that now it is something I really love to do,” Eli concluded. We wish him luck with his music adventures and pursuing his dream of owning a farm to feed the masses!