Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Belvederes pours heart into latest release, will perform at FitzGerald's


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

On its latest release, "Beggar's Heart," the passion that Chicago band The Belvederes pours into its music is on full display.

The band with perform on May 28 at FitzGerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn. Bart Alonzo also is on the bill.

The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to frontman John Ford about the band's latest activities.

Q - Great talking to you. "Beggar's Heart" received rave reviews after it was released last year. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

Great talking to you as well! I think our main goal was to make a record that really captured who we are as a band.

Our first record was more of a four-on-the-floor rock record, but there’s a lot more to what we do, rhythmically and dynamically.

We really wanted to capture the feel of our live set, and I think we did that. 

Q - You have been labeled as an Americana band. Do you think that is an accurate label? How would you describe the band?

I would describe us as a roots/rock & roll band. I like the term "roots," because it covers a lot of ground.

Everything from blues to R&B to country to jazz to rockabilly to folk. And everything in between.

Q - The band also is known for its energetic live shows. What do you try to do with your shows? Which do you like better - being in the studio or on stage? Or do you need both in your life?

We’ve always loved playing live. It’s been such a huge part of who we are for such a long time now. 

There’s no better feeling than connecting with an audience. It’s such a beautiful give and take.

Working in the studio is a totally different discipline, because you don’t have that. So you have to learn how to work without that feedback.

It takes a while to get used to, but we had such a great experience making this record. We made it with our good friend, Teddy Thornhill at Jay’s Garage in Chicago, and it couldn’t have been more comfortable.

Q - Who are your biggest musical influences and how have they influenced your music?

That’s always a tough one! There’s just so much.

The obvious answer that comes to mind is The Beatles – being a four piece rock & roll band with heavy vocals. But there are so many. 

We all bring something a little different to the table as far as influence goes, but there’s also enough overlap to keep us from disagreeing on what we want to do musically.

Q - Soul seems to be a big part of the band's DNA. It seems like there has been a soul revival in the last few years. Why do you think the genre is enjoying newfound popularity?

I think the really good stuff ultimately stands the test of time. Ray Charles will never not be cool. Aretha Franklin will never not be cool.

I love that soul music is as popular as it is right now – people like Leon Bridges, Nathaniel Rateliff – it gives me hope for a band like us, ha ha! 

Q - But you also dip into a lot of other genres, such as rockabilly, honky-tonk and power pop. Do you have a favorite genre?

I think they’re all fingers of the same hand. It goes back to what I was saying about the “roots” label.

To me, all of those things work together really well. I could never be a purist in any genre, because I’d get really bored really quickly. 

There’s too much good stuff out there to limit yourself to one thing or another.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?

We love playing in Chicago. There’s a lot of love for roots/Americana music here. Particularly venues like FitzGerald’s and Martyrs’.

Places like that are great for what we do. And there’s so much more. Obviously a ton of blues and jazz.

Chicago’s great.

Q - What is the chemistry like in the band? What do you think each member brings to the table?

I couldn’t be happier with the chemistry we have as a band. We’re four completely different people who just happen to think and feel the exact same way about this one thing.
The friendship’s got to be there, otherwise you’re just four players. You’re not really a band.

That’s the thing that really attracted me to The Beatles. They had that camaraderie.

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?

We really just want to play as much as we can. We’ve been writing/demoing new material, so we’d love to get back in the studio sooner than later. 

But in the meantime, we’re trying to stay as busy we can with the live shows. Ultimately, we just want to continue to improve as much as possible.