One of the coolest things Faneuil Hall Marketplace does for local music is host showcases for college musicians stemming from all genres to give these students a chance to busk and present their talents to an audience of listeners from all over the globe. Among them this past summer was Amy Allen, lead singer and songwriter for Amy & the Engine – a seven piece indie-folk pop band with a background as eclectic as a Faneuil Hall audience.
Amy Allen is meant to be a musician. She started writing her first songs in middle school. She hit the streets to busk at age 14 in her hometown of Portland, ME, as it offered her an instant response to new songs she wrote. Some people stopped, some people kept walking. She met the keyboardist of her first band on the streets as he busked and told her about the crazy experiences he had and the characters he had met.
In 2011 she won The Portland Phoenix’s awards for Best New Act and Best Female Vocalist. In 2013, she repeated as Best Female Vocalist. She attended Boston College and was halfway through the nursing program. Then she was on NBC’s The Voice and decided to pursue music as a career. Now she’s at Berklee College of Music where she will receive a degree in Songwriting next spring. She is self-taught. She is meant to be a musician.
Her first stand out experiences busking came with the Amy Allen Trio during a short tour through New York and New Jersey, where playing acoustically outdoors in some not so safe places proved to be great way to meet new musicians, make a few extra dollars and receive some really odd business cards.
Allen admits that busking may not have played a huge role in the path that her time as a musician has taken, but mingling with other buskers playing very unconventional instruments and creating alternative sounds has inspired her tremendously. It has allowed for her to draw influence from these musicians, and incorporate an eccentric twist into her own songwriting, something to which her band also contributes.
As a Berklee Band, the members of The Engine hail from all over the globe, which allows Allen to draw influences from a wide variety of worldly music that may not be known to the everyday listener. One guitarist comes from Brazil, another from Australia and the drummer is Peruvian. The band’s writing takes on a collaborative approach, with all members pitching in influences from their native music and listening preferences, which is strongly reflected in the band’s debut single “I Got You”, an upbeat, playful, folk love ballad that engulfs the listener in harmonies, which Allen enjoys writing as much as lyrics. Their six track EP is due out this fall.
Whether it is busking in her favorite spots around Boston at Newbury Street or the Commons, playing local venues such as Church or TT the Bear’s, showcasing her talents at CMJ or serenading the massive open air crowds of Discovery Park in Freeport, ME, Amy Allen is an absolute delight to hear perform. Her commitment to music makes her continued success undeniable.