Birds of Chicago, Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer

Birds of Chicago

Birds of Chicago is a collective based around singer/songwriters JT Nero (of the Chicago rock and soul band, JT and the Clouds) and Allison Russell (of the Canadian urban folk band, Po' Girl).

JT Nero is a strange and distinct songwriter - he lists Mark Twain and Sam Cooke among his biggest influences. He is a poet of the everyday and the absurd, the lonely, the hopeful and the semi-hopeful. He's got a fractured country soul croon, full of doo-wop ghosts and old time religion. With the Clouds he's a rock n' roll preacher -- with Birds of Chicago he digs deeper into darker, often fantastical nuances of his work.

There’s not much Allison Russell can’t sing, which is no surprise to many loyal Po' Girl fans. She’s got a bit of the speakeasy chanteuse in her, a bit of old R&B, but with a delicacy and clarity of phrasing that Ma Carter or Loretta Lynn would surely approve of. She plays banjo, ukulele, guitar, and clarinet. She’s also a top shelf whistler. She writes gorgeous, unpredictable songs, and makes other people's tunes - often Nero’s - her own with startling ease.

The JT Nero/Allison Russell combination first struck gold on the JT Nero solo release, Mountains/Forests (No. 2 on the American UK Critic's List for 2011.) Realizing their chemistry, JT and Allison formed Birds of Chicago as a vehicle for their shared musical vision, and have since toured virtually non-stop. Recent festival appearances include Delfest, Kerrville, Strawberry, High Sierra, Joshua Tree Roots Festival, and more. Radio sessions include KUTX in Austin, Daytrotter, Audiotree Live, and more. The eponymous CD "Birds of Chicago" enjoyed over 10 weeks in the CMJ Top 200, peaking at #95. Experience what critics are calling "two of the most compelling new voices on the Americana music scene." (Chicago Sun-Times.)

Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer

Human chemistry is indeed a mercurial thing. And adding any artistic endeavor into that mysterious balance can, every so often, create some true magic. For Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer (pronounced fair), the delicate intertwining of music, life and that always-fine interpersonal equilibrium has borne fruit in the shape of a truly one of a kind artistic partnership.

With the release of the songwriters' first official collaboration, Seed of a Pine, the duo's striking ability to blend their lush folk and Americana-influenced styles is on full display. McGraw's consoling, velvety baritone voice, reminiscent of Greg Brown, coupled with Fer's soaring and subtly powerful vocal approach, likened to that of Patty Griffin, puts a spit-shine polish on the finely crafted body of songs they have generated together. The intricate weavings of their vocal harmonies are undeniably exceptional. McGraw's hard-hitting tunes echo narratives of the culture and landscape of the American West, wherein he thoughtfully spins tales of everyday folks looking for a little something more in their earthly existence. Fer takes a more dreamy approach, evoking complex and ethereal imagery within her sultry and haunting melodies. Her potent electric lead guitar playing, in the vein of jazz-fusion guitarist John Scofield, bravely propels this duo through their uniquely heartfelt and spirited live performances, winning over audiences night after night.

McGraw and Fer have amassed an admirable résumé and an ever-expanding fan base during their time playing music together. Having toured the U.S. from coast to coast, performing in highly esteemed theaters to intimate listening rooms, the pair has honed their skills sharing stages with fellow troubadours including Willy Porter, the Swell Season, Tony Furtado, Jeffrey Foucault and many others.

Seed of a Pine itself was recorded in Chicago during the summer of 2011 with renowned producer Zach Goheen and includes contributions from a litany of acclaimed musicians, including Wisconsin singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey, Po'Girl songstress Allison Russell, and Chicago's JT Nero (of JT and the Clouds). Released February 15th, 2012.

$10 in advance • $12 day of show

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Birds of Chicago, Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer

Wednesday, October 16 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM at The Secret Society