Birds of Chicago
515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
Birds of Chicago
In so many ways, we are a word weary culture, ever searching for ways to communicate in fewer and fewer words, letters, syllables...Our online, blogged out, you-tubed attention spans are truncated and fragmented like never before. Birds of Chicago, the collective centered around Allison Russell and JT Nero, reassert the simple notion - radical in these times - that beautiful words and music can still tap deep veins of emotion.
real midnight's gonna come/ real midnight's' gonna come
real wolves at your door/ with blood on their tongues
now what you gonna do/ with your days left in the sun ?
ha da la ha
Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered; the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition and the music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. For Birds of Chicago, every word counts. Every note counts. No gold-dusting, no filler. Music is the good news and Real Midnight, the band's poignant new Joe Henry produced album, throbs with an urgency that feels quietly seismic.
Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when Nero began writing for his vocal star-muse, Russell. Both were accomplished singer/songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed Canadian roots outfit Po' Girl, but together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting.
On Real Midnight, Birds of Chicago alternate moody rock swagger with the ghostliest of soundscapes. Produced by Joe Henry, a man who's expert blending of light and shadow is well known, the album is a melancholy - but never shoe gazing - suite, full of wayward, joyful, lonesome voices raised up against the night.
Music this raw and soul-rich demands to be experienced live, and Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since their formation in late 2012. For these Birds, singing for a room full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases off the shadows. 2016 will find the band in constant motion - from sea to sea and beyond.
When you hear the duo Heart Hunters harmonize, you might guess that Brianna McGeehan and Drew de Man were lovers. And you’d be right. Bri’s voice solos gorgeously and blends sweetly in harmony while she plays upright bass or guitar. If Drew’s voice has something twangy about it, he comes by it naturally, having grown up in the South. Brianna and Drew’s voices blend in richly hued harmony, wrapping themselves around songs of love and loss, spiritual yearning and social justice. Heart Hunters’ luscious harmonies are often decorated with South American drum or pedal steel.
Brianna and Drew met while studying music therapy in Portland, Oregon. They each later assembled separate musical groups where they experimented with playing in each other’s band. They soon began writing songs together and recording, released EPs in 2013 and 2014 and their first full-length CD in 2015, all under the name “Pretend Sweethearts.” The duo played cafes, bars, and clubs all along the West Coast and also brought their music to homeless shelters, youth detention centers, prisons and rehab facilities.
As they were falling in love, Bri and Drew experienced the adventure of life on the road--sleeping on moonlit beaches, in hidden caves, and under ancient redwoods. Their thirst for experience…and their need to find housing they could afford…led them deep into South America and finally to a mountainside in Bolivia. Bri and Drew immersed themselves in Andean culture and songwriting and soon had a baby together. Their little boy Lucien inherited his parent’s wanderlust and now delights in being on the road as Heart Hunters tours the US and Europe.
Growing up in the American South, Drew de Man’s ears were on intimate terms with all the greatest 70’s songwriters, as well as The Grateful Dead and loads of roots music, country blues, string band and classic country, all blended into a zesty musical stew with pure rock-n-roll. Drew’s father is a poet with a penchant for quoting ancient mystical texts around the campfire. In this case, the apple fell not far from tree. At age ten, Drew was given his first guitar and has never stopped playing. He founded his first band, No River City, in 2001 and spent the next several years making records, touring the country and sharing stages with such artists as Iron &Wine, Calexico, Jolie Holland and Alejandro Escovedo.
Bri McGeehan grew up in Oregon and spent many a rainy day getting lost in cassettes of Celtic folk. The daughter of a music teacher, she was raised on classic rock and Beethoven, and sang in several choirs. Today, she loves teaching any child how to play piano. Bri studied performance and social activism at Naropa College in Boulder, Colorado before moving to Brooklyn, where she began songwriting in earnest. Ms. McGeehan’s songs range from tragic to uplifting, borrowing equally from Celtic, 90’s alternative and songwriters like Kate Wolf, Patty Griffin and Guy Clark.
Heart Hunters is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia. They teach music, renovate houses, and walk in the woods behind their home with Lucien and Aurora, their two young children. Somehow, they also find time to craft their next album, due later this year.