Birds of Chicago

Birds of Chicago, is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Whether touring as a duo or with the full family band, Nero and Russell have emerged as two of the most compelling new voices in North American Roots music.

For several years Russell and Nero’s respective bands, Po' Girl (Vancouver, BC) and JT and the Clouds (Chicago, IL), have collaborated extensively, but on 2011’s Mountains/Forests, released under the JT Nero banner, they tapped into the true, bewitching power of their voices together on an entire record. It also featured the full cast of characters that would round out the Birds of Chicago ensemble -- the Clouds and Michelle McGrath, the luminous singer and picker from the hidden hills of Southeast Ohio.

The record received critical raves and won them new fans on both side of the Atlantic, and created a great deal of excitement for the first official Birds of Chicago album, slated for release in September, 2012.

Nero’s fractured country-soul voice wrapped in Russell’s silver and gold tones, is a fine thing. Not too perfect, not at all saccharine, you’ll hear echoes of mountain gospel, street corner doo-wop, and classic soul. Accompanied by just a banjo and a guitar, it’s haunting. Fired by the band, it’s a full tilt revival.

Nero and Russell are most at home on the road - pick almost any night in the next two years and you can bet they will be in some festival, theater, pub, VFW hall, roller rink (they wish) or living room, dovetailing their voices, singing their songs of hope, despair, love.... and electric seahorses. And honey bee apocalypses. And ice cream. It's familiar and strange stuff - the everyday and the magical. Come see ‘em, they won't be hard to find.

Alan Semerdjian

New York-based indie singer/songwriter and poet ALAN SEMERDJIAN has quieted down considerably since his days fronting the sonic alt-pop outfit Surreal. Although the noise, driving grooves, and swirling guitars are missing, Alan's current work still has the same attention to craft and poetic sensibility as well as the deep melodic longing that earned him the respect of critics, fans across North America and beyond, CMJ attention and radio airplay, and television and film credits.

Alan has had music placed in PBS, LIFETIME and WB network programs, a PS3 video game, and the film "Whatever We Do" starring Robert Downey Jr., Tim Roth, and others. The unreleased short film is written by actor Kevin Connolly, produced by Tobey Maguire for FOX SEARCHLAB, and is currently only available online.

2005's independently-released When There Was Something Wrong With You - which features the production work of Michael Bloom (Rilo Kiley, The Elected, Julian Casablancas), Philip A. Jimenez (Wheatus, Easy Anthems, Beat Radio), and Brian Blackburn (“Peggy Lee Sings Lieber and Stoller”) – created quite a buzz in NYC. Alan was a featured performer on WFUV's City Folk Sunday Breakfast in 2006 and participated in its Under the Radar Series that same year. His recent shows at clubs like The Living Room, The Knitting Factory, and The Highline Ballroom have been packed, and the response across the country has been growing as well. Alan has toured every summer in support of his lastest releases, performing in such rooms as The Hotel Café in LA and Casa Del Popolo in Montreal.

Alan’s more recent release, 2009's The Big Beauty, is co-produced and mixed by Mike Bloom and features Matthew Iselin on keys and piano, Dave Diamond on drums, and Chris Kuffner on bass. Basic tracks were recorded with Matthew Cullen (My Morning Jacket, Rachel Yamagata) at The Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck, NY and special guests include Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady) and international duduk player Jivan Gasparian Jr. While The Big Beauty may be his most commercially-accessible work to date, it retains the gutsy inventiveness and integrity that make Alan Semerdjian one of New York City’s most unique and interesting voices.

When he's not touring, performing, recording, or writing, Alan teaches English in a public high school. He lives in New York City's East Village.


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