Last week at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall attendees were treated to two bands from the Chicago Roots Collections; Derek Nelson & The Musicians, and The Shams Band. On a cold winter’s night there is nothing to warm one up like a couple drinks and to take in some solid americana roots music. Both of these band’s are regulars within the Chicago local music scene, and coincidentally were part of the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival – which OurVinyl had the honor of being apart of back in December.
It might not surprise you that Derek Nelson is the lead singer and creative force behind his band’s songs. His musicians are comprised of a female back up/supplemental vocalist, a bassist, drummer, another guitarist, and a fiddler. Although it should be stated that the drummer moved to slide guitar for a few songs, the bassist would play drums, and occasionally a standing bass drum. It was impressive, and added an intriguing dynamic aspect to the live show, to see that these musicians were proficient in multiple instruments.
Derek stuck mostly to the songs off of his most recent release “Riders of the Tide” (which you can download for free here). Singing and playing guitar as he stared out past the crowd in his version of the thousand-mile stare, it is obvious to all in the crowd that Derek is passionate about his music – and it’s contagious. Songs of particular note this evening were Come and Wait, and the beautiful slow burner Oh Mama (I’m Going to the Other Side). These songs are of quite different tempos, but no matter what the BPM was these musicians were adept at playing them in a bewitching manner. Of great assistance in this was the fiddle, which added either an enchanting melancholy emotion or playful highlights. The band’s sound greatly benefits from the addition of this instrument.
Shortly after Derek and the band left the The Shams Band took to the stage. This 5 piece band; comprised of 2 guitars, drums, bass and banjo, have a sound that borders between folk rock and rockabilly. But being a Chicago band I guess they also can’t help but have a dash of blues rock as well, which is a good thing.
One of the initial thing one notices with this band is that they infuse the banjo well into their overall sound. At times it is used in the “traditional” manner to accent their more folkish songs with that uniquely american twang, or other times to let is hide within the more rock’ish and upbeat songs endowing their sound with a distinctive flavor. A couple songs that were memorable from this evening was Pour Me a Drink, which is a blues-rock stomper replete with dexterous guitar solos and sing-a-long friendly lyrics, and Shelly, a toe-tapping rockabilly number which features a quick-drum backbone but is balanced with more subdued guitar highlights.
For a couple unsigned acts playing “backcountry” music in the big city, these two acts really held it down, and for a moment – just maybe – let the crowd forget the snowy concrete that awaited us all when the evening was over.
By Sean Brna