The music streams off the speakers like steam rolling through a supernova. With hints of epic rock tracks infused with electronics, the music is full of hooks and upbeat vibes. It maintains an aura of mystery, like a screenplay of a story about darkness narrowly averted. The vinyl album Messenger, a concentrated effort of production, resonates with a fans of electronic music, EDM and dance tracks. It was written, produced and engineered by a Chicago songwriter known for his acoustic songwriting. Hold on, what?!
Greg Jackson Combs, the mind behind Messenger, cultivated his sound in Chicago with his ambient Americana band Goodbyehome with songs of love and loss. His band released albums on CAUDog Records, a prominent indie label known for acoustic songwriters as well as orchestrated pop. This year, CAUDog is planning a solo album release for Carla Prather, back-up singer of Poi Dog Pondering. CAUDog has produced albums featuring the vocals of the American Idol star well known in Chicago, Crystal Bowersox. The label, active for seven years, further stretches its wings with Messenger, an album redefining Combs as not only a writer of acoustic tunes, but as a producer adept at engineering and executing many styles of music.
“A lot of the time as an artist, if you’re known as a specific sound, it’s almost like being stuck in that ideology,” says Combs, “if you step outside of that there’s fans that will question why you’re going in that direction. I like that kind of music [acoustic], but I didn’t want to be stuck making that…the rest of my life. It’s also about how can I expose my music to more people? The way to do that is to make something totally different than what I’ve done. It’s good to surprise people, to give them something they’re not expecting, it’s more effective.”
The album title Messenger can be taken literally as fans sit down and enjoy the vinyl and soak in the listening experience. Combs indicates the songs came to him as full arrangements, with vocals and all, and he just brought them to life. Usually with songwriting, he works on a riff, and pieces the song together with lyrics and tells a story. For this album, the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist heard the songs in his head, and as a response he spent countless hours recording, choosing between takes, layering guitar, keyboards and vocals to create the lush sounds of Messenger.
While most pop songwriting includes exploration of person-to-person relationships, Messenger is about the person-to-spirit relationship. “I don’t know where [it] came from, I could say it came from the subconscious, another dimension or from outer space (laughs). I am unaware where [the ideas] came from, so the songs are messages to me. I just interpret them and give them to the world. Now I’m the messenger.” ”People should listen to and interpreted the way they want, how it affects their lives,” says Combs. “The message is just positive; the power of positive thinking, the power of positivity to change the current situation. Basically, be good to each other, be nice to each other, don’t fuck up the earth.”
While vinyl is growing as a collectible, the decision to put Messenger out on vinyl fits in with how fans listen to it. “People [often] listen to music on their computer or phone, with all these distractions, and music is a background. On vinyl, it really forces you to sit you got to play the record. You flip the record, you look at the art, it’s the whole experience. This album has messages, about the state of the world, these questions we ask ourselves about spirituality. The vinyl makes the message more important because it clears the channel a little bit so it can affect you the where want to affect you.” The vinyl has debuted at shows in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. “Fans are excited to see new artists with vinyl, they’re really excited to see it.” relays Combs.
The album oscillates between hard-hitting rocking grooves in ”Good Things”, mellow tracks such as “Rose Colored Glasses”, which includes traces of the style Combs honed in Goodbyhome, and slow burners with lots of dance potential like “Sundays Coming”. The latter song also illustrates the spiritual quest of the album, with lyrics such as “all my life I’ve been searching for something…found out I’m searching for something you cannot see.”
Combs has honed in on a power trio to reproduce and interpret the album for live shows, maintaining the energy and enigmatic quality in a stripped down form. “The album has a full, loud sound, in-your-face heavy kind of rock,: so a power trio is the best choice for delivering that live”, says Combs. The group includes Jonathan Ross, drummer from the band Goodbyehome, and Justin Tucker, also in a band called Unicorn with Combs.
Performing live to promote the album, Greg Jackson Combs performs June 3, 2015 at Mayne Stage, 1330 W. Morse Ave. in Chicago, along with Magic Giant (on tour) and Davenport Ed, an energetic local band with rock flavors. Combs and his trio have a 16 date tour plan starting July 29, including the Midwest and South as they embark on a mission to deliver their message with Messenger.
For tickets to June 3 at Mayne Stage, click here.
To hear the album Messenger:
For the full effect, be sure to buy the vinyl version.
CAU recognizes that world musical influences represent a rich tapestry of rhythms, melodies– bringing together four geniuses on February 27th
February 27, 2015 | Show Starts 8:00 pm (7:00 pm DOORS)
Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan is Chicago’s premier gypsy-jazz band.The group plays the 1930s-style music of guitarist Django Reinhardt — foot-tappin’ swing played on acoustic instruments. It’s a blend of the jubilant swing of early jazz with the feisty passion of gypsy music, plus a strong dose of guitar pyrotechnics and virtuosic improvisation.
Formed in 2001, Swing Gitan features bandleader Alfonso Ponticelli on lead guitar and a world-class lineup of musicians on violin, rhythm guitar and upright bass, with the occasional special guest. Over the years, they’ve played with many of the great contemporary gypsy-jazz players from around the world, including Bireli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Moreno, Angelo DeBarre and the Robin Nolan Trio.
“Nino Arobelidze Creates New Crossroads Between Pop, Jazz, Soul and Damn Good Beat Boxing” writes Hannah Frank (OnAxis Music) “Nino, a U.S./Georgian musician and vocalist who grew up overseas, represents how dynamic, rhythmic and lyrical exploration created beauty with her new album NOMAD. Smooth jazz fans, R&B Hip Hop aficionados, EDM troubadours, genuine rock and roll lovers and spoken word listeners all find themselves sitting appreciatively at the altar of NOMAD”.
Hailing from Tbilisi-Georgia, Nino Arobelidze moved to Chicago to make music and develop her sound. While still studying classical vocal performance at DePaul University Music School, Nino became the first vocalist to be an Artist in Residence at the North Shore Hotel in Evanston, where she held a weekly lecture/performance series for three years. Her time is currently occupied with her solo project and her side project- Forbidden Knowledge. Nino’s 2014 release NOMAD is co-produced by Pablo Gordy- Ni Fu Ni Fa Records.
Nino’s voice is often described as pure and effortless with a timeless vintage twist. While her imaginative phrasing and swagger are reminiscent of a skilled instrumentalist, her treatment of language is driven by the power of words and the magic of subtlety.
Website:http://www.artistecard.com/ninoarobelidze / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ninoarobelidzemusic / YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ninoarobelidze / Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/ninoarobelidze / Instagram:http://www.instagram.com/nino_arobelidze
Goran Ivanovic is a native of Croatia, a Balkan country torn by the civil strife that engulfed the former Yugoslavia. The musical son of a Serbian father and a Bosnian Croat mother, he has crossed many boundaries in his life and in his music. While he was studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with masters such as Elliot Fisk and Joaquin Clerch, his parents were expelled from Croatia and were granted political asylum in the United States. Since his residence in this country, Goran’s broad grounding in Classical music has been enriched by influences of Jazz,Balkan and the World Music. Goran frequently performs at mayor festivals and concert halls in the US,as well as TV and Radio performances.
He has been featured on Chicago Tonight, WTTW,Dame Myra Hess Concert’s,848 on Chicago Public Radio. As a leader he has released 6 albums:1999 Guitar Solo, 2001 Macedonian Blues(with Fareed Haque),2005 Seven Boats (with FH),2006Goran Ivanovic Group,2007 Folk Tales (Eastern Blok),2009 Goran Ivanovic and Andreas Kapsalis Guitar Duo.
Goran’s music has been published by Lemoine publication’s in Paris under direction of grammy winning artist Sergio Assad. Goran has taught as a guest artist at Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, Cornell University, University of Michigan,Depaul University,Truman University and has appeared at prestigious events such as Chicago World Music Festival, NY Guitar Festival,NY Jazz Festival,Wall To Wall Guitar Festival as well as legendary Jazz clubs The Blues Alley,Firefly Club,Joe’s Pub and Chris Jazz Cafe. His current projects are: Eastern Blok, Grazyna Auguschik Orchestar, Goran with Fareed Haque and Goran with Andreas Kapsalis.http://www.goranguitar.com/
Born into a musical Puerto Rican family, Sandra Antongiorgi is a musician’’s musician. Her talent is undeniable, and her singing is raw, powerful, and effortlessly smooth. Versed in both Spanish and English, Sandra has proven herself to be a nimble lyricist who generously delivers unique and seductive performances that are feast of auditory excellence. Website: www.santongiorgi.com / Soundcloud: www.souncloud.com/santongiorgi / YouTube: www.youtube.com/santongiorgi / Facebook: www.facebook.com/santongiorgi
$13 online in advance | $10 cash at the door | Ages 18+
The Future Laureates Drummer Rob Durkee is contributing to the Modern Drummer blog. He says, “…there is never a dull moment, and I am always feeling the pressure to push myself and try new ideas and sounds to keep our music fresh.” Read more about it here.
Sponsored by the Chicago Acoustic Underground, join us at The Throne Room in Lincoln Park for an evening of original and holiday music to raise funds for Supplies for Dreams, a charity that helps CPS kids have supplies to succeed in school. http://www.suppliesfordreams.org/
Hosted by T.J. Sagen and featuring local Chicago musicians:
$10 door/$7 presale
Link for pre-sale tickets: http://thethroneroomchicago.queueapp.com/events/5699
Raffles throughout the night! Get in the holiday spirit of music and giving!
CAU Presents…On December 10, 2014 @ Mayne Stage, 1330 W. Morse Ave. Chicago, IL: Sandra Antongiorgi, Kurt Michaels Continuum featuring Alain Quinn, Simeon Peebler
Born into a musical Puerto Rican family, Sandra is a musician’s musician. Her talent is undeniable, and her singing is raw, powerful, and effortlessly smooth. Versed in both Spanish and English, Sandra has proven herself to be a nimble lyricist who generously delivers unique and seductive performances that are feast of auditory excellence. She has performed with a number of musicians from around the world, and along the way has gathered influences from traditional Caribbean sounds, rhythm and blues, soul, rumba and Gitano music. She’s had the great privilege of opening for Wynonna Judd, and also has a song featured on the Latin Dragon movie soundtrack. Upon hearing the unique vocals of Sandra Ivelisse Antongiorgi, you will be struck by the richness of her music, the deep, soulful melodies, and pure artistry.
Kurt Michaels Continuum featuring Alain Quinn
Plus Simeon Peebler
Simeon “Simon” Peebler is a Folk-spirited songwriter based in Chicago, whose music has been described by Illinois Entertainer as having a punchy rock attitude with a lineage to protest music of the ’60s. He is producing his third album for release in early 2015, following up 2012′s “Missing Anchor” and 2011′s “Follow the River Bend”. Simeon performs regularly at a variety of local venues and festivals, including Chillfest Chicago and the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival. An active member of Folk Alliance, Simeon got his start writing and performing music at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and when he’s not performing, Simeon is an avid supporter of live local music in the region.
Please visit http://www.simeonpeebler.com for more information.
CLEEMANN, the Copenhagen/Chicago-based one-man-project centered around singer, multi-instrumentalist and musical director Gunnar Cleemann, is now on U.S. soil. The Artist is set to take the stage in Chicago on November 6th, as he headlines the CAUDog Records Showcase at The Throne Room. Stay tuned, there are several other U.S. appearances in the works.
Hear his music here: C L E E M A N N O N S O U N D C L O U D
Click here for Show Info:
CAU Presents…a fourtunate experience with four of the best bands on one stage, the Mayne Stage. Four only $10.00 adv. $12.00 at the door see Chicago’s finest as well as touring bands that will knock you like a left hook!
The Future Laureates
The Future Laureates’ forthcoming EP, Here and After, is a showcase of vibrant and mature songcraft. With the help of producer Chris Grainger (Wilco, Switchfoot, Sixpence None the Richer, and Kopecky Family Band), TFL has finally captured the unabashed energy of their live shows on record. The band delves into varied subject matter, ranging from an apocalyptic escape, to modern love songs, to a eulogy of Don Quixote, told from the perspective of his loyal servant. They also flex some new musical muscles, pulling from their influences in modern rock, classic pop, rhythmic folk, and 60’s soul.
The Lauren Wolf Band: Celebrating the amazing new album “Rise Up” and the Single Run Daddy Run…
Though “Rise Up” is The Lauren Wolf Band’s second full-length album, it is their first full-band collaboration. Comprised of 10 originals and one cover, “Rise Up” is a departure from the band’s first album, “All My Secrets”. This time around, each band member has contributed to every track. While the debut album was primarily Lauren’s story, “Rise Up” is a collection of what this band family has become. It takes many bands years of performing in front of live audiences and rehearsing privately until they can figure out their sound and who they really are. “Rise Up” is the result. Marrying the powerhouse vocals of classic rock artists like Janis Joplin with the rock/blues guitar licks of Jimi Hendrix, the band pays homage to yesterday’s greats while creating a new sound all to their own.
ESH / Red & Reckless
Red and Reckless is a Alt-Rock band from Chicago, fronted by recording artist Esh (e-shh) The Singer. Gaining the majority of her industry experience by writing, recording and touring as a powerful background vocalist, Esh began her solo career with band Red and Reckless in 2009. Esh struck out on her own, forming her own ace backup band consisting of Terence Lee (bass, producer, music director), Nick Jaffe (guitar, producer, vocals), and Myron Cherry (drums); all who have worked with famous performers such as Common, Estelle, Dwele, Ice Cube, Syleena Johnson, and many others.
After a five year sojourn in Chicago, the windy city set Sherri-Anne on an exciting musical adventure. It was a Missy Higgins concert in 2007 that inspired her to no end to pursue music and set her on course. Within days she began to book shows, within months national tours – many WITHOUT A CAR, which eventually landed her in San Diego where Sister Speak was formed. The vision: a collaboration of musicians in support of the expression of the female voice in an authentic and genuine way. In 2012 an injury brought Sherri Anne back to her Canadian homeland, British Columbia, where she rest in recovery unable to walk or perform live for two months – it was then that she wrote most of the songs for Sister Speak’s debut Rise Up For Love album and the band line-up began to evolve. Upon her return, Sherri Anne & drummer Lisa Viegas fully delved in to the San Diego music scene, collaborating with various musicians such as current band member Tolan Shaw. Over the next two years Sister Speak’s “Rootsy-Rock” sound truly came to life, the songs written found their place in the hearts of many, and Sister Speak’s debut album was born.
Venue: Mayne Stage