Mike Mangione & The Union, The Future Laureates

Mike Mangione & The Union

Tenebrae is the latest work from singer-songwriter, Mike Mangione and his band. Since its release the band has received favorable press form all corners of the country, including the honor of being selected as New York Magazine's pick of the week in September 2007. Indie Launchpad defines Tenebrae as "a phenomenally great album," while Indiemusicstop has labeled it "a definite must have for any fan of folk and Indie music genres." Aside from its life in the press, for the band the album marks a dénouement of sorts, the culmination of a process that began as a search for a subtle, organic, yet dynamic and expressive sound.

Born in a northern suburb of Chicago and now residing in Milwaukee, Mangione is no stranger to movement and change. Following the 2005 release of There and Back, which charted CMJ at number 16, Mangione has logged approximately one hundred and fifty shows per year throughout the country including such notable performances as SXSW, Midwest Music Summit, Chicago's Mobfest, and Milwaukee's Summerfest. He has opened for performers like Jamie Cullum, The Samples, Will Hoge, Jacks Mannequin, Lifehouse, Brian Vander Ark, and Michael McDermott.

Through his travels Mike met with producer Duane Lundy (The Apparitions, Scourge of the Sea, The Parlour Boys, Vandaveer, Martha Berner) and the two quickly developed a relationship. "Duane and I had a lot in common in terms of musical influences. We had the same vision for the album and decided to record as much as we could live, with very little overdubbing, so that the performances could breathe and bleed together – literally bleed together into the microphones."

The two began recruiting for the sessions, pulling from their catalog of contacts. Mangione co-wrote and arranged most of the music with his brother, Tom, and called on him to do all the lead guitar work. Over the years, furthermore, Mangione had developed a relationship with the band, The Samples, and recruited Samples keyboardist, Karl Dietel. Lundy brought in Robby Cosenza (The Apparitions, Scourge of the Sea) to play drums. John Collins, a Chicago-scene veteran who had recently begun playing upright bass for Mangione on the road, was an appropriate fit for the album, rounding out the rhythm section.

Just as the band started to come together, Mangione had an auspicious experience. "I was sitting at mass in Milwaukee and heard this young guy playing cello; it blew my mind. It was such a compelling and moving instrument, I knew I had to add it to the band." Mangione promptly recruited Patrick Hoctor, a student in Milwaukee, to become the band's cellist. Soon thereafter, Kristina Priceman, a violin student, was asked to join the band to complete the group.

For two weeks Mangione and Co. recorded in a converted warehouse in Lexington, Kentucky. "That was probably the longest length of time I have spent in one place in quite some time," Mangione quipped. Immediately following the completion of the album the band resumed its extensive touring.

The Future Laureates

With a successful presence at SXSW 2012, plus airplay on 140 college radio stations, The Future Laureates are celebrating with unabashed energy and triumph. Offering positive punk-rock energy with folk/pop musicianship, their sonic champagne is frothing
and bubbling with the release of their third studio album, "Fortress Sessions". It is seriously full of fun. Since the release of their new record, the band has had their music talked about in blogs ranging from Music-Defined.com and Southside on the Town to Chicagoist.com, as well as a plethora of internet radio stations and podcasts.

They've established connections with fans over shared interests. The bleakness of current events or dynamics of interpersonal relationships faced by college-age crowds (most of them singing along) can't be downtrodden as the pure sunshine of radio-ready pop comes through in every millisecond. Soaring harmonies glide through serious matters of the head and heart, along with major jamming by guitar, bass, drums- and ukulele.

2011's "Rethink the Recession" led to reviews of "Kingston Blues," the EP's single, as "a fresh and fun melody led by a lively rhythm, brisk percussion, and warm, spirited vocals." (Chicagoist.com) and "…it's not just a gimmicky thing; he jams the livin' crap outta that uke!" (DailyLimerick.net). The same year, the album won licensing deals with a variety of shows on MTV, Showtime, and Discovery Networks via Tinderbox music.

Touring has brought together even more fans through numerous Midwest and East Coast journeys as well as hometown venues including Chicago's House of Blues, DC's Rock and Roll Hotel, and the Congress Theater for the 3rd and 4th annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festivals. They've shared crowds with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Drive-By Truckers, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, hellogoodbye, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Dawes.

Through it all, they keep it smart, fun and rhythmic.

In 2012, The Future Laureates have added "the fifth Beatle" with Chicago's CAUDog Records. Working with accomplished producer Ellis Clark (Nikki Sudden with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden), the recent album is their strongest effort to date. "We've treated it as a separate entity and process than our live shows, with additional organ, piano, horns, percussion, and most notably, violin," says Danny Surico, primary songwriter for The Future Laureates.

"Fortress Sessions" sees TFL's three founding members (Danny Surico (guitar/vocals), James Hyde (bass/vocals) and Matthew Daigler (ukulele/vocals) polish 12 gems with an unprecedented level of honesty about the songwriting and arrangements. Also contributing are special guests Ellis Clark on keys and organ, Mike Scheiman on guitar, Aaron Apter on drums and percussion, Kristina Priceman on violin, and Emily Claire Palmer on vocals. The album gained its unique title from the band's practice space and songwriting hub, a coach house fondly nicknamed "The Fortress" tucked away in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Following their SXSW appearances in Austin, TX this March, the band is gearing up this summer for some hot festivals, including the world's largest music festival: Summerfest. They'll also be playing a slew of shows in the Midwest and along the East Coast to promote the new album. Spontaneous, professional and passionate, TFL is dedicated to bringing their latest effort to radio and online distribution; in fact, another 300-city, North American college radio campaign through Tinderbox Music kicks off in June. Most importantly, they're bringing it to the fans that keep dancing and singing along.

Rachel Levitin

Rachel Levitin is a Chicago-born singer-songwriter and award-winning multi-instrumentalist currently based in Washington, D.C. Having over a fifteen years of live performance experience under her belt as well as an unwavering passion for storytelling through song, Levitin continues to create an intimate show -- no matter the stage -- across the country. Levitin's style ranges from folk-influenced rock songs to country storytelling with a dash of blue notes thrown in for good measure. Fans of American rock, soul, and jazz will find hints of their favorite genre's history combined with Levitin's emotional performance to make for quite the compelling live show.


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