The Midwest’s largest city may not seem like the ideal hotspot for up-and-coming folk bands but through the thicket of Chicago’s noise, Wild Skies is making an impression on the city’s local music scene. Just months ago, the four-piece band buckled down at I.V. Lab Studios with Chris Harden to record their debut full-length album Far From Below. It’s a compilation filled with rich folk instrumentation, lyrical hooks, catchy grooves and vocal harmonies; a creative step forward from the band’s 2015 self-titled EP.
Staying silent during a politically charged state strums many artists as difficult, especially when they view surrounding actions of their government and peers as immoral. After the pipeline crisis in Standing Rock and spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Chicago-based folk singer Ryan Herrick saw an opportunity in his art; to use his music as a catalyst for change. On Earth Day 2017, Herrick buckled down for a day at Kingsize Sound Labs with engineer John Abbey to record his third album Sagitta, out for release on Friday, September 15 with a show at Edgewater’s Uncommon Ground.
Named after the Latin word for “arrow”, Herrick views the songs making up Sagitta as arrows; arrows of thought to be directed at people in power or people under the illusion that they are in power. Herrick explains that these songs, or arrows, can also be a light on into the world, a moment of intention.
Thanks to Mike Vogus, organizer of the Annual Localpalooza Chicago Showcase, supporting a worthy cause as has never been so easy. Simply show up at Lincoln Hall on Saturday, July 22nd to enjoy seven Chicago bands, great beer and a chance to win kickass prizes. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Patrick Grange Memorial Foundation, a charity for ALS Research organized in the memory of a local college soccer player.
Patrick Grange was a former University of Illinois-Chicago and University of New Mexico soccer player who was diagnosed with ALS, a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. In November 2010 at age 28, Grange’s diagnosis made him the youngest person to be diagnosed with the disease in his home state of New Mexico. In hopes of subsidizing medical costs, Grange’s teammates held benefits and fundraisers in Grange’s name. After Grange passed in April 2012, his former teammates were inspired to officially launched The Patrick Grange Memorial Foundation in January 2013. Today, the charity hosts a number of events to raise funds for research, awareness and support for families dealing with ALS.
Imagine performing as a solo hip-hop artist, relying on nothing but vocals and backing tracks, when suddenly the show promoter announces the backing tracks have failed. At this point, there’s two options: walk on the show or recruit musicians from the night’s bill to back the performance.
Nearly six years ago when this situation happened to emcee Dhan Dee, he choose the latter; opting to share the stage with guitarist Chad Wynes and drummer Kyle Voivodas. Artistically, Dee had nothing in common with Wynes’ and Voivodas’ band. Dhan Dee was a poet, rapper and lyrist. Waynes and Voivodas were folk rock instrumentalist. Having never met or rehearsed, the three musicians took advantage of the serendipitous moment, having no idea it would lead to the creation of one of Chicago’s leading genre-mashing projects; Chicago Loud 9.
Band dynamics are a funny thing. As much as we’d like to believe our favorite bands are the best of friends on and off stage, that’s often times not the case. However, every once in awhile, a band comes along whose members genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
The level of comfort and admiration is apparent as soon as the three members of The Inventors gather around a small patio table outside of a Starbucks in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Even with a show only a few hours away, their nerves seem at ease; an odd feat for such a new band with only two recorded singles and a drummer with less than a year of playing experience. Nevertheless, the boys hold their poise. They’re confident the show will go over well.
“Even though I’ve only been playing drums such a little time, we kind of know each others’ tics,” explains drummer and lead singer Joe Mango on why the band feels such ease on stage. “If someone is speeding up or they’re about to end, we know.”
Wouldn’t it have been great to spend a week of your childhood learning to be a rock star? A real, bona fide rock star with the necessary skills to not only play an instrument; but also to record music, promote a show and play a kick a$$ set.
Well luckily for the kids of today, Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit organization, is offering just that with a variety of programs for girls, transgender and gender nonconforming youth.
There is no lack of rock bands in Chicago. The alternative airways are filled with electric guitars and growling vocals fighting to be heard. They fight for the same audiences, and more importantly, they fight for the same shows. In theory, one would think this competition would create a rivalry, but the boys of Heavenfaced swear the scene is filled with nothing but respect and healthy competition.
“We all, as bands, have the same goal. We want to [make music] for the rest of our lives, but there is never that point in time where I would say ‘oh, they didn’t deserve it,’ or ‘that should have been us,’ says bassist Zac Wesoloski. “We all drive each other and I think healthy competition just creates great music versus creating grudges or bad blood between anyone.”
These feelings may not be mutual for every band clawing their way to success, but Heavenfaced proves their love by spending more time raving about friends’ bands than they do discussing their own achievements. Compliments and high praises for their comrades are tossed about their StoargeMart practice space. They can’t get enough of I Made You Myself’s new single “Blunderbuss” and love catching shows from Tiny Kingdoms. They are so happy for Ghost Key signing with InVogue Records and advice from The Howl is always appreciated.