Ida come from NYC, and they formed originally as a duo between
Dan Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell. The name of the band came
from Ida Machado Schafer, the grandmother of Liz's old friend,
artist/playwrite Erin Courtney. Ida was a 92 year old lady when
Dan and Liz formed their group, and she was known to tell some
of the best stories this side of the Mississipi.
Ida's sound has been continually changing. Early Ida sounds
like folk infused with rock, with a lot of guitar strumming,
emotional lyrics and vocals. The vocals have always been either
Dan or Liz singing, or both of them together creating some of
the most touching boy-girl harmonies ever heard. Later Ida also
has that type of singing and lyrics, but the instrumentation
is different... they use a lot of pianos and violins and cellos
as well as acoustic guitars.
In 1994 they recorded Tales of Brave Ida, an
album of sparse folk/rock songs with lyrics that are so simple
yet so true. Only one song had drums. Soon after recording the
album, Dan's brother Micheal Littleton joined the band playing
drums. His addition was crucial -- the drumming on their next
album I Know About You made the album a huge improvement
over Tales of Brave Ida (which wasn't bad to begin
I Know About You was recorded in January 1996.
Later that year Karla Schickele (from the band Beekeeper) joined
the band as the bassist. Their next album Ten Small Paces
was recorded in 1997 and consisted of a bunch of new songs and
cover songs recorded on the road and while touring. Karla wrote
two songs for this album, both quite different from Ida's previous
songs, but they complimented and worked exceptionally well.
In 98, Dan and Micheal's father died. Losing True
was dedicated to their father, an EP that marks Ida's most experimental
effort to date. Also in that year they recorded The Ida
Retsin Family, a collaboration with the band Retsin.
This was also when Liz and Dan recorded a children's album called
You Are My Flower.
In late 98, Ida signed on to Capitol Records (previously they
were on Jenny Toomey's Simple Machines label). They recorded
their major label debut, but Capitol being the idiots they were
didn't do ANYTHING. They completed the album in May 1999, and
wasn't released until Summer of 2000 (under a different label:
Tigerstyle). They spent a year just trying to break free of
their contract with Capitol.
It turns out that Capitol really screwed up: Will You
Find Me is a beautiful and haunting album that most
major label artists just hope to have recorded. While dealing
with Capitol, Ida also recorded another full length album called
The Braille Night that will be released late 2000
or early 2001. Ida also released a limited live album called
Live at Carnegie Hall.
Micheal left the band in the fall of 99 to pursue his own music