Andrew Bird - Based in the Chicago area, singer, songwriter, and violinist Andrew Bird
has attracted a following to his unique blend of swing, jazz, rock, and
blues music. Bird performs as a soloist and with his group the Bowl of
Fire, as well as with other musicians such as Kristin Hersh and Howe
Gelb. Bird got his start with the zany swing band the Squirrel Nut
Zippers in the 1990s, and then left that band to produce his own CDs.
After releasing three albums and playing on the soundtrack of the 1999
film The Cradle Will Rock, Bird turned to recording more accessible, pop-sounding music with his 2001 release The Swimming Hour. Bird's latest record, Are You Serious , marks his tenth solo album and features collaborations with Fiona Apple and Blake Mills.
Blind Pilot - A Portland-based group originally comprised of singer/guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski, Blind Pilot strikes a balance between mellow folk and West Coast indie pop. The two co-founders first banded together in college before combining their talents and touring the northwestern Oregon circuit. By 2006, however, they'd decided that a change of scenery might help their songwriting. Blind Pilot consequently relocated 90 miles north, where the guys spent three months inside an Astoria warehouse while recording demos for a full-length album. Afterwards, Nebeker and Dobrowski launched a "bike tour" that saw them traveling from Vancouver to San Francisco via their bicycles, playing shows and selling EPs (not to mention saving gas money) along the way. They returned home to finalize their 3 Round and a Sound debut, which was released by Expunged Records in June 2008. While playing shows in support of 3 Round and a Sound's release, Blind Pilot added four new members to the touring lineup. This swelled the band's sound, making 2011's We Are the Tide a more fleshed-out, lush affair. The group then signed with ATO for their third LP, which would be five years in the making. Still operating as a six-piece, they released And Then Like Lions in the summer of 2016.
Ryley Walker - Ryley Walker is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist, singer, and songwriter from Chicago. After a few years cutting his teeth on the city's indie and experimental music scenes, he began giving solo live performances with his acoustic guitar. The first recorded aspect of his complex musical persona arrived with the cassette-only EP The Evidence of Things Unseen, issued in limited edition from Plustapes in 2011. Its artwork was deliberately reminiscent of John Fahey's Death Chants Breakdowns & Military Favorites, and inspired by the American Primitive lexicon of Takoma Records. Later that year he released -- again via cassette on Plustapes -- Of Deathly Premonitions, a four-song collaboration with fellow fingerstyle guitarist Daniel Bachman. Walker's first widely circulated recording was a vinyl-only three-song 12" entitled West Wind from Tompkins Square Records in 2013. His debut album, All Kinds of You, was issued by the label in April of 2014. After intensive touring and playing on others' records, he signed to Dead Oceans in the fall. Recording in Chicago with a cast of improvisational and jazz session aces (including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz), Walker completed Primrose Green, issued in 2015. It was the first of his recordings to feature his own vocals. Musically, it blurs the lines between folk, rock, jazz, and new music. After nearly ten months of touring Primrose Green, Walker returned to Chicago and set about writing and recording his third album. Inspired in part by the Windy City and local musical heroes Tortoise and Gastr del Sol, the eight-track album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, was released in August 2016.
The Flat Five - The Flat Five is a Chicago-based pop vocal super-group — Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, Alex Hall — made of five in-demand musicians who individually spend much of their time touring and recording with bands like Neko Case, NRBQ, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, Iron and Wine, Jakob Dylan, Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo, The New Pornographers, and many other heavy hitters. In 2014, they began recording an album, dedicated to the songs of Chicago-based composer Chris Ligon (who is also Scott's brother). Recorded at Alex Hall's Reliable Music studio, the Flat Five's first album, It's a World of Love and Hope, was released by Bloodshot Records in October 2016.
Esme Patterson - Sometimes you have to turn off your brain and let your body
sing. That’s what Esme Patterson did on her third full-length, We Were Wild,
set for release on Grand Jury Music on June 10th, 2016. “At its core, rock ‘n’
roll is where madness and order collide. Where our sexual, raw, animal nature
meets our heart and mind. On this album I explored deeper, more far out sonic
spaces. I hunted the vibe through vast wilderness,” says the Portland-based
songwriter. Her decadal musical career sprang from Colorado’s mountains
when she co-founded Denver’s beloved indie-folk ensemble Paper Bird. After four
acclaimed albums and perpetual touring, Patterson set a new course. In 2012,
she wove local talents, including Nathaniel Rateliff, into her first powerful,
ethereal solo release All Princes, I. Her 2014 release, Woman to Woman, rounded
out previously one-dimensional females from popular songs to the praise of The
New York Times, The Guardian and others. “Dearly Departed,” her hit
collaboration with Shakey Graves led to millions of streams, sold out shows
nationwide, as well as performances on Conan and The Late Show With David
Letterman. Across We Were Wild, her delicate voice, wry humor, poignant
storytelling, and impassioned delivery entwine with fuzzed-out guitars,
deep-in-pocket percussion, hints of roots-y country, and a swirling psychedelic