Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicago band The Sometimes Family bringing soulful sound to scene


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Although Chicago band The Sometimes Family might not be a family in the strict sense of the world, the band's seamless blend of soul and R&B invites comparisons to such family bands as The Staple Singers and The Jackson 5.

On Feb.16, The Sometimes Family, www.thesometimesfamily.com, will bring its soulful sound to the Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago. The show starts at 10 p.m.

The Sometimes Family also will perform at 9 p.m. March 12 at Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

I had the chance to talk to frontwoman Rebecca Sometimes Gurga about the band and its music.


Q- The band's music has been described in various ways. How would you describe your music? Who are your main influences?

What sets the Sometimes Family apart from other groups in this new soul era is our aim to bring back the vocally-driven tune, the collaborative, harmonic group sound. Drawing inspiration from a variety of soul sources, including the Fifth Dimension, the Staples Singers, the Jackson 5 and the Friends of Distinction, we write our songs with the whole family in mind.

The Sometimes Family fuses a bluesy, soulful language with vocally driven melodies. Bass and drum grooves, rhythmic organ, and sweet flute lines seal the deal to an incredible listening experience. Our music tickles your limbs and sets them in motion.

Q - How did the band get together? Is there a meaning behind the band's name?

Steve Schuster (bass) and I were in another band previous to the Sometimes Family, and when we decided to put together a soul band, for some reason instead of horns we thought flute.

I think I wanted to start small, but in the end we realize that we don't need horns - everybody has horns. We met our other three members when we put ads on Craigslist (one at a time).

I had the name Rebecca Sometimes as a stage name and we thought it would be catchy to call us the Sometimes Family. It inspired images of old time funky soul bands, like Sly and the Family Stone, Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band, the Jackson 5, the Friends of Distinction.

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Q - For those not familiar with the band, what should people expect from your live show?

People not familiar with our set can expect a lively show reminiscent of the late '60s and early '70s, a little bit funky, and vocally driven arrangements. It's super fun to see the Sometimes Family live.

Q - What are the band's goals for this year?

We are finishing up an album (due out this spring), and we'll be going on our first tour this July.


Q - How do you think The Sometimes Family fits into the Chicago music scene? What do you think the band adds to the scene?

The Sometimes Family has a bit of an underground presence in the Chicago music scene, which is to say that still, no one has ever heard of us. But we get a big response from our audience.

We play often and try to connect with other lovers of soul music and other soul bands. We are very different from your typical soul band in that we don't have horns and instead try to fill out the horn parts with vocals.

My goal as a writer and leader is to establish our soul sound authentically without the obvious choice of horns. I also like to write songs as if I were living in that era, trying to imagine what the issues were of the day and include songs about social justice.

I study the black experience of the '60s and '70s and the civil rights movement in order to respect and understand the experiences of my soul forebearers.

Also, to add, we have a family dynamic. Our band is very close and aside from our drummer, Phil Merker, we live with each other. We hang out with one another and though life isn't always perfect, we find a way to persevere, just like family.