Monday, June 19, 2017

A Day in the Country festival celebrating 10th anniversary, will take place June 25 at The Hideout in Chicago




By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Now in its 10th year, the music festival A Day in the Country will feature two-time Grammy Award winner Jim Lauderdale along with an array of other artists, including Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys, Lint Trappers (feat. Tony Magee), The Lawrence Peters Outfit, The Hoyle Brothers and The Family Gold.

The festival will take place at 2 p.m. June 25 at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $12, available at www.ticketfly.com.

A full schedule is below:

Front porch:
 

2 to 2:30 p.m. - Jess McIntosh
2:40 to 3:10 p.m. - Northside Southpaws
3:20 to 4:05 p.m. - Lint Trappers
4:15 to 4:45 p.m. - The Family Gold
 

Backroom:

5 to 5:30 p.m. - Becky Levi & Mike Vanier
5:45- 6:15 p.m. - Hoyle Brothers
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. - Jim Lauderdale
7:45 to 8:15 p.m. - Lawrence Peters Outfit
8:30 to 9:30 p.m. - Rex Hobart And The Misery Boys
9:45 to 10:15 p.m. - Dirty Green
10:30 to 11 p.m. - Dan Whitaker & The Shinebenders


I had the chance to talk to organizer Lawrence Peters about the festival.


Q - Great talking to you again. Of course, this is the 10th year of A Day in the Country. What does it mean to you that the festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year? Are you surprised the festival has made it to 10 years?

It’s cool, man! I’m excited and honored that this grassroots event has managed to come this far, mostly through word-of-mouth.

Q - What do you think of this year's lineup? How did you go about choosing the bands for this year's festival?

I’ve been proud of every year’s lineup, but I’m extra stoked about this one. Jim Lauderdale is a long-time favorite of mine, and it’s going to be incredible seeing him on the Hideout stage, as part of my festival.


He’s an ace songwriter and singer, and a helluva showman. I’m not always impressed by the Grammys, but that guy has earned both of his. 




I usually start the year with some new local favorites in mind, and a headliner wish list. I put the word out from there, and see which headliners are an actual possibility, when the smoke clears.

After I have my star attractions, I balance out the lineup to include what I think is the right mix of honky tonk, bluegrass, string bands, and so on.

Q - What was your idea for creating A Day in the Country in the first place and has it lived up to your expectations?

I started the festival with the intention of giving the Chicago country music scene an event that we could call our own. It seemed that we were being under-represented in the bigger festivals, so starting a country-centric event was my solution to that.



Folks are already asking to be part of next year’s line-up, and that is a good sign that the event is achieving the goal of supporting the local country scene.
 

Q - Your band is again part of the lineup. What is the band up to these days? Are you working on new songs?

Yes sir, I always include The Lawrence Peters Outfit in the lineup. As much as I enjoy watching my favorite bands playing my favorite kind of music, I like singing and playing, even more. It’s a highlight of my year.

The band has been busy! We recently won our second Chicago Music Award, in the Best Country And Western Entertainer category, and we are nominated for the Reader’s Best Of Chicago Poll, also in the country band division (please vote for us!).
 


We’ve also been getting some solid shows. We opened for Wanda Jackson (a career highpoint!), and we have a bunch of cool events on the calendar ( Summer Dance on July 9, Navy Pier on Aug. 6, the season's last Picnics On The Porch, on Aug. 25, at the Hideout, and a bunch of other rad stuff).

It’s being a good year for us. We also recently tracked eleven songs, and are in solid shape for a spring 2018 release. We’ll do vinyl, CD, song books… the whole shebang.

All of the songs are originals that I finished since our first record, and I’m very excited about the recording. Gonna be a good one!

Q - Where do you see A Day in the Country going in the future? What are your goals for the festival?
 
I’m hoping I can keep walking that fine line between a small, friendly event, and a festival that can afford to give the local musicians a great day, and a solid paycheck, while bringing the great touring acts I want. I have an ongoing list of folks who are making the kind of country music I like, and I’ll be contacting many of them for next year’s event. 


It feels real good to know that there is excitement and anticipation for this yearly event.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blues on the Fox festival provides many musical gems

Chicago singer Shemekia Copeland provided many captivating moments at Blues on the Fox festival.

Shemekia Copeland shows off her son at Blues on the Fox festival.

By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Despite some weather hiccups, the 21st annual Blues on the Fox festival in Aurora on June 16 and 17 provided many lasting memories.

The weekend started off on a soaring note with two goddesses of the Chicago music scene - blues belter Shemekia Copeland and the legendary Mavis Staples.


Copeland is rightly called the Queen of the Blues these days, although she rejects the title, arguing that it should stay with the late Koko Taylor.

Although she took the stage with a cold, she shook it off in commanding fashion, tearing through songs such as "Pie in the Sky" along with delivering a passionate version of her father Johnny Copeland's signature song, "Ghetto Child."

The legendary Mavis Staples performed with a joyful exuberance that lifted the crowd at Blues on the Fox.
As fiery as her performance was, it couldn't match the one delivered by Staples, whose energy belies the fact that she is about to turn 78. She brought fresh energy to The Staples Singers' classics like "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" along with conveying a joyful exuberance that lifted the crowd.


Chicago musicians again ruled the day during the second day of Blues on the Fox as Guy King brought his soulful blues to the stage, provided some electrifying guitar licks alongside his band's tight horn section.


Unfortunately, an approaching storm cut Elvin Bishop's set short, but Bishop and his band made the most of their abbreviated time on stage. Bishop also has a Chicago connection as he was schooled in the Chicago blues while attending the University of Chicago.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist/songwriter Elvin Bishop performed on the second day of Blues on the Fox.
Bishop and his band played with the looseness of a group of people just hanging out to jam together. Because of their limited time on stage, they could only choose a few crowd favorites, such as the song "Got To Be New Orleans" and his hit single "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," brought to new life by the uplifting vocals of Willy Jordan.


Blues on the Fox has become a cultural treasure in the Chicagoland area. And hopefully those who came out to this year's festival treasured the musical gifts that were provided.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Soulful blues guitarist Guy King to perform at Blues on the Fox in Aurora


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

One probably wouldn't think that someone born and raised in a small rural town in Israel would be schooled in the blues.

Guy King has been a growing force on the Chicago blues scene. He served as the lead guitarist and band leader in Willie Kent’s band for six years, until Kent’s passing in 2006 and then started a solo career.

King will perform as part of the Blues on the Fox festival on June 16 and 17 at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora.

Gates open at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m. June 16, three-time Grammy nominee and international blues favorite Shemekia Copeland will take the stage, followed by Chicago’s own living legend, Mavis Staples, at 9 p.m.

Gates open at 2 p.m. for the second day of Blues on the Fox on June 17. "The Voice" veteran Nicholas David will take the stage at 3 p.m. He replaces Devon Allman, who has stepped away from touring in the wake of the passing of his father Gregg Allman. King will perform at 5 p.m., followed by Blues Hall of Famer, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy nominee Elvin Bishop at 7 p.m. and Jonny Lang at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $20 each per day. Children 12 and under are admitted free to Blues on the Fox, but must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. For tickets and information, visit RiverEdgeAurora.com, call the RiverEdge box office, 630-896-6666, or stop by in person at
RiverEdge’s satellite box office, the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

The RiverEdge box office will also be open on-site both days for day of
sales, beginning at noon. All tickets are general admission. Ticket fees are not included.

I had the chance to talk to King about the upcoming show.


Q - You are part of the bill at Blues on the Fox. As far as playing at a festival versus playing in a club, which do you prefer? Or do you like both experiences?

I like both, I have to admit. I think everyone that came up playing the regular way, the normal way or the old school way, played more in clubs in the beginning.


It's a great intimate feeling, [compared] to when you play a larger venue, like a theater or a hall or an outdoor stage. It's a different type of feeling, but I try to convey that intimacy that I experience playing at clubs with a larger outdoor audience.

Q - You do kind of have an unusual back story. You came from Israel, so do people ask you about your background and how you fell into the blues?

Yes, I get that asked a lot. I understand that it's not traditional, that it's a different story than your common one. I understand that. I respect that.

I was exposed to a lot of things on the radio. I remember hearing Michael Jackson and David Bowie. I was playing clarinet at a very young age, so I was exposed to classical music and big band.

And I picked up the guitar mostly by ear when I was 13 years old. Through my brother, I was exposed to musicians like Eric Clapton, which lead me to Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

In Israel, it was very difficult to get a blues album back then. Like when I came here, I feel very fortunate that I was able to go to a store and pick up a T-Bone Walker album.

Q - Are the blues catching on in Israel?

I don't know. I don't know. The truth is, I haven't performed there much. I came here at a younger age.

I think there's more exposure now to the blues, and more knowledge than when I was growing up there. It's not to the point where it's being played nightly in the club.

Q - It's been a good year for you. Your latest album, "Truth," which was released in February 2016, is getting rave reviews, and was nominated for a 2017 Blues Music Award in the category of "best emerging artist album." You've been around for a while. Does it feel strange to be called an emerging artist?

A few people have asked me the same thing. But I understand how it goes. Sometimes the definition of emerging artist is not like this new artist. Maybe I was not traveling stateside that much, even when I was playing with Willie Kent. We were really performing a lot more in Chicago, and doing a few hit and run shows elsewhere in the United States.


Most of our travel was overseas, so I understand why I went unnoticed maybe a little bit. But I was very glad to receive this nomination. It's great to know that the album "Truth" did very well.

I'm still performing material from it, and I'm looking forward to performing it at Blues on the Fox as well. It was a great year, and I'm looking forward to hopefully an even better one.

Q - What were your goals for "Truth" and do you think you accomplished them?

I think we achieved what I wanted to do. Really, the goal was pretty simple - to stay focused around the feeling of the music and the way I sound and feel it right now.

Right now, meaning when we recorded it. I think the album reflects who I was then. So I was able to get my message across.

Most of the things I had done before were for my own independent label, and "Truth" was done for Delmark, so I hoped that we'd get more notoriety and more people noticing what I do, which it did, so we achieved that.

I kind of wanted them to know some of what I do, kind of like, 'Hello, I'm Guy King.' It's like a business card.

Q - Of course, "Truth" was your first album for Chicago's Delmark Records. Are you pleased that it made such an impact, seeing it was your first album for Delmark?

Yeah, very much, very much. I'm very glad of that. I was happy with the sonic quality of it. And then when people started responding to it, then of course I was happy about it.

Q - I've had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Marie Young and I was wondering how you hooked up with her for the duet on "Truth."

Sarah is now my wife and the mother of our firstborn. We got married April 2, so it's fresh.

Even before that, we were already spending time together. I knew that Sarah was a wonderful vocalist and a great singer.


We talked, and she said she would love to sing background with my background singers on the album. And then I asked Sarah what she would think about doing a duet, to kind of break up [the album] a little bit and add a female voice.

She said it would be a pleasure and an honor. We were looking for a number, and I wrote this tune - "My Happiness" - originally for me to sing. We tried, at first with an acoustic guitar, just her and I, and it sounded great. 

I came up with the arrangements for the horns, and it was quick and natural. 

Q - So are you guys going to collaborate more, now that you are married?

Time will tell. We will probably, but there's no date as far as an album or any duet or any performance yet, but we do enjoy each other's work a lot and do enjoy performing together. 

No promises, but I think I speak for the both of us when I say we would love to do more together.

Q - A person can't call you a strict blues player, because you kind of weave in and out of blues and jazz and big band as well. But it seems like you are comfortable in all those genres and it seems like you are trying to bring all those genres together.

The way I look at music is maybe a little bit different than as you say, "purists." When I play the blues, I think I play as bluesy as anybody who plays blues. My influences are probably some of the most wonderful blues players that ever lived - I'm talking about B.B. King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker or many others that I can name.

I listen to a lot of them and I appreciate and admire a lot of their work. Being self-taught mostly, I call them my teachers. But I also understood early on that the feeling of the music is what makes music great.

That feeling can be a part of what people call jazz, or a ballad, or standards or rhythm and blues. I'm always going to play bluesy because I believe in it.

It's a deep feeling, and I try to bring it to everything I sing or play. This is my goal.

Q - Of course, you were Willie Kent's lead guitarist and band leader for six years. As far as what you learned from him, what were the big lessons that he taught you?

He taught me a lot of stuff. We were playing a lot of blues, what people would call blues, but even Willie would throw in a rhythm and blues number, a soul number or some ballad.


He taught me that the feeling of the music is what gets the message across. I saw that on a nightly basis. He delivered. He sang with conviction and meant what he said and said what he meant on stage on a nightly basis.

I had to play my best behind him to try to keep up. I would like to think that I'm giving my listeners and my fans the same piece of my heart and my feelings when I perform.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Chicago band bluefront to perform at Old Town Art Fair

 
By ERIC SCHELKOPF
 
On its latest EP, "The Arbor Sessions," Chicago band bluefront takes listeners on an emotional ride.
 
bluefront will perform at 11:30 a.m. June 10 at the Old Town Art Fair at the Old Town Triangle Association Building, 1763 N. Park Ave., Chicago. More information is available at www.oldtownartfair.org.
 
I had the chance to talk to bluefront frontman Alan Zreczny about the band:
 

Q - Is there a meaning behind the band's name? How did the band come together? What do you think each member brings to the table?

Yes. bluefront comes from this store in Ann Arbor Michigan that basically sold doritos, snickers bars, toothpaste and kegs of beer. Many, many kegs of beer.
 
When I was thinking of a band name, my sister told me to think about a great time in my life and asked me to remind her what street my friends and I lived on in college. Arbor Street didn’t seem like a good idea, to say the least, but then I thought of the Blue Front.
No one knew where Arbor Street was, but everyone knew where we lived when we would say - two doors down from the Blue Front. So I just made it one word, all lowercase and here we are.  



I met Jason Steele probably 12 years ago when looking for a new jazz/theory teacher. As I started writing and performing, I was set to open for one of his bands when he asked if I wanted him to play on a few tunes.
 
He did, we loved how it sounded and then it just kept going from there. We met Nick Kabat through the same person who introduced me to Jason.
 
We should really name the band after our mutual friend.

Jason and Nick are amazing musicians. They bring everything that fills in the spaces of the songs and make them into something I could never have imagined.
 
Listening to them is my favorite part of playing together.   

Q - How do you juggle being a musician with running your family business, Audio Consultants? I know the business started in 1967. Did being around the business influence your decision at all to get into the music business?

I guess I just do what I have to do to get things done, nothing conscious really.  Music is important to my parents and they made sure we had a music education/lessons, even when my sister and I were not that interested. 
 
Being around the business taught me about listening to music and since music was always around our house, in some form or another, probably had something to do with it.

Q - You previously were a corporate finance lawyer. How did you transition into being a musician? Are you glad that you made the switch?

I always felt I should be writing and playing music, even when pulling all nighters trying to close deals, so it was always there.  Very glad to have left that behind.

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

I like that I have met people I never would have met in my old life. Not only that, but there seems to be, for the most part, a true feeling of support and camaraderie.
 
I just hope I do my part in that.   

Q - What does the rest of the year hold for bluefront? What are the long term goals for the band?

Hopefully to get more and more interesting gigs, add a bass player and record.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chicago musician Andy Pratt releases debut album, will perform free show at the Hungry Brain



By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago musician Andy Pratt's love for musicians like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits are on full display on his debut album, "Horizon Disrupted."

In support of the new album, Pratt and his trio will perform a free show at 9 p.m. May 24 at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont Ave., Chicago.

I had the chance to talk to Pratt about the new album, which was engineered by well-known producer Steve Albini.

Q - Great talking to you. In sitting down to make "Horizon Disrupted," what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

My most basic goal with "Horizon" was to document a collection of songs that I had been writing over the past five years. My next goal was to hear these songs arranged for a string quartet along with a standard guitar/vocals, bass, and drums trio.




Ultimately, I wanted to have all of the above properly recorded. Not only do I feel that I accomplished these goals, but I also could not be happier with how the album turned out.

Q - Is there a meaning behind the album's title?

Yes and no. I like to think that the meaning can be different and personal to each listener.
 


For one person, it could be about lost or unrequited love. For another, it could be about missed chances, stifled progress or just a pause.



And while this album was not conceived as a political vehicle, it could reflect the current climate that our country is in. "Horizon Disrupted" also relates to the title track which on the surface is about how disappointing it is that there is not a good sunset, or really any sunset across Lake Michigan in Chicago…but there is a reward…if you're a morning person. 
 

Q - How did you hook up with Steve Albini and what do you think he brought to the project?

In January of 2016 I emailed Electrical Audio, the studio that Steve built and owns, and told the studio manager about the project with strings that I was working on. He said that Steve was interested in engineering the record.


My ensemble and I went into the studio in July of the same year and spent four days there. Steve brought his very special thing to the project.

He has a way of capturing the best of the natural/organic aspects of a voice or instrument. He knows exactly what microphones to use, he's quick, and he doesn't like to waste time.

He records exclusively to analog tape…there wasn't a computer that was ever used during the session. There were two days of tracking followed immediately by two days of mixing.

Every performance was tracked simultaneously/live with the string quartet in the studio. The mixing process involved a lot of quick decision making.

And by the end of the four days, I had a mixed album. Steve helped create a warmth, atmosphere, and truth that I don't believe I could have found with many of his contemporaries. 

Q - It seems that Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits are strong influences in your music. How would you say they have influenced you?

With both of them, I really love how they tell stories through their music. They both are poets, respect melody, and utilize the spoken word.


To be honest, I've spent a little more time with Waits's music. I admire and am fascinated by the different stages his music went through from the '70s until now.

In terms of his vocals, I love that he isn't afraid to try different voices and effects. I also admire the theatrical angle that he adds to his shows.

I'm trying to add some more of that to my performances…not to copy his work, but to find my own way of doing things.

Q - Of course, there is another Andy Pratt who is best known for his song "Avenging Annie." Do you have to constantly explain to people that you are not "that" Andy Pratt? Or do you see it as another way to introduce people to your music?    

This is always kind of a funny topic. He actually befriended me on Myspace about 10 years ago or so. He was very kind in his introduction and recognized we were both musicians with the same name.


There has been a time or two where someone would show up to one of my shows thinking that the other Andy was going to be there. And venues/show listings have used his picture for promotion by accident before.

But usually most people know that we are separate artists. I do like to mention to people on the phone or via email that my message/call is not from the Boston Andy Pratt of '70s rock fame. So, it is a nice icebreaker.

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

Chicago has a fantastic music scene. The city is filled with great musicians and honest/cool people.


There are venues to play and musicians are treated well. The second part of this question is a bit more tricky.

My roots and training are in jazz. Most nights of the week I'll be playing and/or singing the songs of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, etc…American Songbook material.



While a lot of these artists and songs have influenced my own writing both lyrically and harmonically, the music I've documented on "Horizon" is a different thing. This music doesn't really fit at a club such as The Jazz Showcase or Andy's Jazz Club.

It really works better at other types of venues. So, I'm still figuring out exactly where I fit in the scene. I want to push my own music as far as it will go and keep moving forward, but it's also important to me to maintain my jazz background.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Chris Greene Quartet pushes musical boundaries on new album, will perform at Winter's Jazz Club in Chicago


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago saxophonist and composer Chris Greene and his bandmates don't believe in musical boundaries.

So it's appropriate that The Chris Greene Quartet's latest album is titled "Boundary Issues." The band will perform a number of shows in support of the new album, including on May 20 at the Winter's Jazz Club, 465 N. McClurg Court, Chicago.

More information and tickets are available at www.wintersjazzclub.com.

I had the chance to talk to Greene about the new album.


Q - Great talking to you again. So you are known for pushing the boundaries of jazz, and your new album is called "Boundary Issues." Did you try to push the boundaries even more on this album?

We never consciously tried to push the boundaries of jazz, although I think we certainly challenge most people’s idea of what jazz is. Individually, we listen to and are influenced by so much music along with jazz, so when it comes time to make music with the quartet, no genre, style, or musical idea is off the table.




Musical boundaries and divisions simply don’t exist to us. Good music is good music.

With “Boundary Issues,” we’re basically distilling many styles and using them as staring points for the compositions and the improvisations.

Q - This album is the eighth one with your quartet. How do you think the band has grown and evolved over the years?

On one hand, we’re committed to being the best musicians we can be, so we all continue to do our homework off the bandstand. Hopefully, that comes across on the recordings.


At the same time, I think we’ve realized that it’s no longer enough for us to dazzle an audience with our musical versatility. We simply want to play good, challenging and interesting music for people - regardless of style or genre.

Some of our most fervent fans are people who previously thought that they hated jazz. Those are the folks who end up buying all of our albums.

Q - The album also features a number of guest stars. What do you think they bring to the table?

This was the first time that we’d had guests in the studio with us, but I knew that the three musicians I chose would add their distinctive flavors to the sessions and push us to greater heights as a collective. Marqueal Jordan is simply one of my favorite saxophonists (and people) here in town.




Our musical influences intersect at several points, so he was a natural choice to join us for the song, “The Crossover Appeal.” JoVia Armstrong is an incredibly tasteful percussionist who performs in every situation imaginable, and her vibe enhances her two appearances.

And what more needs to be said about the great, young guitarist Isaiah Sharkey? I was elated that he could join us for two songs!

Q - "Boundary Issues" features both originals and interpretations of other people's songs. How did you go about choosing what songs to cover for this album and what did you want to do with them?

It always comes down to having enough new quality material that we’ve had ample time to test in front of various audiences. Once we hit a point where we’re focusing less on the sheet music and more and making the music sound and feel good - that’s usually the time to call our producer Joe Tortorici and book the studio time.

Q - Along with having your own quartet, you are also a musician that is in demand. Do you have any favorite musicians to work with?

As far as people I work with, I’m a little biased toward The J Davis Trio (led by my friend, vocalist Julio Davis - who also makes an appearance on the album) and the mighty West side funk/soul/R&B collective Midnight Sun (where I met Mr. Sharkey). Ultimately, I just love playing music, so I’m humbled and flattered when anyone calls me to play with them.

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

For the first 10 years of my career, people only seemed to know me from my early electric funk/jazz band New Perspective, my long association with a Dave Matthews cover band and various other rock and hip-hop projects.
 




So they’d be shocked to discover that I could play straight-ahead, acoustic jazz - which is what I went to school to study. For the next 10 years, people only seemed to know me as a traditional jazz player, and were surprised that I liked funk and other stuff.

Now people don’t seem to be surprised to see me with a jazz trio one night, a funk band the next, and a rock cover band the next. I just like playing music.

Q - Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

I wrote and recorded background music for a children’s play recently, and I’d like to do more of that. I’d love to score an independent film.


I also want to compose, arrange and produce for other artists. I’d also like to eventually release music or comedy albums by other artists on my label.

The sky ain’t even the limit no more. No boundaries.

Brad Cole putting new spin on blues, bossa nova



By ERIC SCHELKOPF
 
In putting together his group Bossa Blue, singer-songwriter Brad Cole - who these days splits his time between his hometown of Chicago and New York City when he's not on tour - wanted to marry two different musical genres - the blues and bossa nova.

The group recently finished a residency at The Hideout in Chicago. I had the chance to talk to him about Bossa Blue.

Q - Great talking to you. In coming up with the idea for Bossa Blue, what were your goals and do you think you have accomplished them? 

My goals for Bossa Blue were to mash up bossa nova and the blues with a bunch of my favorite classic and contemporary tunes and I want to get the band in shape so that we can do more residencies along the lines of what did at The Hideout.      

Q - I know that the band has covered such songs as Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" and Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home." What led you to want to reinterpret these songs and what new dimension do you think you have brought to them?


These songs have great melodies and hooks and it’s my predilection to give them more of a jazz feel. These songs are the standards of our generation and therefore must be interpreted.  

Q - How did you go about assembling Bossa Blue and what do you think each member brings to the band? 

The Chicago band is Tad Santos on upright bass, Diana Lawrence on piano and Josh Lava on drums. All are great musicians, each with a strong jazz sensibility and a gift for vocal arrangements. Having Diana and I singing together is a direct link to the male/female vocal harmonies intrinsic to Bossa Nova. 

Q - Last year, you released your fourth album, "Lay It Down," which received much acclaim. What did you want to achieve with the album? 

“Lay It Down” saw me move from a folksier sound to something a little more soulful and musical. My inspirations for the album were bossa nova, reggae and soul music, but updated for the 21st century.


I feel that I wrote some good stuff that I was able to record with a full band.   

Q - What made you want to move to New York City? How do you think the two music scenes are different? 

I was living in Nashville and fell in love with a woman living in NYC. Moving there benefited my touring, as well, as I am able to play shows up and down the East Coast.   

Chicago has a more intimate music scene, while NYC is more scattered and hectic but the musicians there are especially strong. 

Q - Where do you see Bossa Blue going from here? Will the group continue to be a side project for you as you release new music on your own? 

Bossa Blue is primarily a covers band and a lot of fun. I am still writing a lot of original material and the musical sensibility of Bossa Blue is definitely influencing my music.

As to where Bossa Blue is headed, we’ll just have to see as more people have a chance to see us and what the overall reaction is. But for now it is fun and a great challenge.