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birds of chicago
“Nero and Russell play folk-rock with impressionistic flourishes and gospel warmth, lent unexpected extravagance by Russell’s singing…” —NPR
Following their incendiary set at Third Man Records, NPR Music named Birds of Chicago one of the Best of Americanafest 2018. Birds of Chicago have been riding a swell of good mojo in the American world since their inception in late 2012. With their new album, Love in Wartime, they are set to both confirm that roots world buzz, and break on through to a wider audience across the world.
Built around the chemistry and fire between Allison Russell and JT Nero, the band has included a core band of empathetic assassins since it took to the road full time in 2013. Russell and Nero played with different bands in the mid-aughts (Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds) before finding their way to each other.
Nero found himself a transcendent vocal muse in Russell (a powerful writer in her own right) and the band honed its chops on the road, playing 200 shows a year between 2013-17. All that shaping and sharpening, oer so many miles, led them back to Chicago’s Electrical Audio in January of 2017, to begin recording. The first day in studio was inauguration day, and they didn’t need any more motivation than that to do what they came to do.
The Birds attract a mix of indy rockers, NPRists, jam-kids and folkies to their gigs, which alternate between moments of hushed attention and wild, rock and soul abandon. Says JT Nero, chief songwriter for the band, “A good show can send you back out into the night feeling–for at least a little while–that everything isn’t broken. Right now, we wanna dose out as much of that feeling as we can.”
“Her voice is disarmingly natural…her magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.” —The New York Times
Leyla McCalla finds inspiration from her past and present, whether it is her Haitian heritage or her adopted home of New Orleans, she — a bilingual multi-instrumentalist, and alumna of Grammy award-winning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops — has risen to produce a distinctive sound that reflects the union of her roots and experience.
Deeply influenced by Creole music, as well as by American jazz and folk, McCalla’s music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary. In her most recent release and third solo album, The Capitalist Blues (2019), McCalla processed the current political environment in her own way, by sonically blending New Orleans music and Haitian jazz, with lyrics sung in English, French and Haitian Creole. The album “imaginatively maps her vision of the Afro- Caribbean diaspora while gently taking Anglocentricism (and capitalism) down a notch,” said NPR. “She’s partly in the moment and partly looking beyond it, and seeing truths that we’ve missed.”
McCalla’s widely-acclaimed collaborative project, Songs of Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell), released via Smithsonian Folkways in 2019. The album pulled influence from past sources to create a reinvented slave
narrative, confronting sanitized views about America’s history of slavery, racism, and misogyny from a powerful, modern black female perspective.
She is currently working on her newest project, Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever, a multidisciplinary performance commissioned by Duke Performances that delves into the legacy of Radio Haiti, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station, through its archive housed at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University.
Leyla’s music reflects her eclectic and diverse life experiences, projecting a respect for eloquent simplicity that is rarely achieved.
Daniel Ho – 6:00PM Pre-Show
Opening with a pre-show set, Daniel Ho is a six-time GRAMMY Award winner, eleven-time GRAMMY Award nominee, six-time Taiwanese Golden Melody Award winner, and recipient of multiple Hawaiian Music awards. He is an ‘ukulele virtuoso, slack key guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and record company owner. Daniel’s collaborations transcend genres – from Hawaiian Regional Roots, to World Music with Mongolian nomads, to duets with Pepe Romero the maestro of classical guitar, to jazz and rock with Tak Matsumoto of the Japanese supergroup, B’z.
Always on the move, Daniel is an American Cultural Ambassador, with tours completed to Japan, Thailand, Brunei, and Australia. In infinite pursuit of new musical adventures, he is also the designer of the Romero Creations Tiny Tenor ‘ukulele, and Ohana Bongolele and Shakerlele. His custom-designed six-string ‘ukulele is on exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.
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As the non-profit community & cultural heartbeat of North County San Diego, we depend on the generosity of arts-lovers like you to keep our organization vibrant and thriving. Our members and patrons know that art & artists have the tools, talents, and gifts to heal our hearts and revive our community, even in the most difficult of times. With your ticket purchase, you will join us in ensuring the cultural and artistic longevity of our beloved home community.
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A portion of every ticket purchased goes to support Cal State San Marcos School of Arts an inclusive, collaborative community where artists, scholars, and students actively engage in developing artistic practices, critical thinking, cultural intelligence, and creativity.
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Buy tickets online (below), or at the Center ticket office, or by calling 800.988.4253. The ticket office is open Tue. – Sat. 12–6 PM, and Sun. 12–5 PM.
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