Birds of Chicago at The Mainstay, July 7

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Birds of Chicago, the band fronted by the singer and songwriter duo of Allison Russell and JT Nero, will reassert the simple notion that beautiful words and music still tap deep veins of emotion at The Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland Thursday July 7 at 7300 p.m. Admission is $18. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org.

Birds of Chicago 1The Birds of Chicago draw heavily on the gospel tradition and their music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered, enrich songs where every word and every note counts.

Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when JT Nero began writing for his vocal star-muse, Allison Russell. Both were accomplished singer/songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed Canadian roots band Po’ Girl. Together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting.

In addition to Allison Russell on vocals, banjo, ukulele and clarinet and Nero on vocals and acoustic guitar, the band includes Joel Schwartz on electric guitar, Chris Merrill on electric bass and Nick Chambers on drums and backing vocals.

On their new recording, Real Midnight, Birds of Chicago alternate moody rock swagger with the ghostliest of soundscapes. Produced by Joe Henry, whose expertise blending of light and shadow is well known, the album is a melancholy – but never despairing suite, full of wayward, joyful, lonesome voices raised up against the night.

Music this raw and soul-rich demands to be experienced live, and Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since their formation in late 2012. For the Birds, singing for a room full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases off the shadows.

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street.

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