The Chamber Strings (1 Albums, 6 Tracks)
KEVIN JUNIOR- Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer, piano, organ, glockenspiel, slide, tubular bells, vibraphone, percussion, sounds ANTHONY ILLARDE- Drums, percussion, sleigh bells, tympani, tape loops CAROLYN ENGELMANN- Piano, organ, harpsichord, viola, backing vocals JASON WALKER- Bass guitar, backing vocals TIM FOWLER- Guitar, organ, backing vocals, banjo
THEY ALSO SERVED.... ELLIS CLARK- Bass guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, hand claps TODD FLETCHER- Piano, organ
THESE ONES AS WELL.... Suzanne Roberts- Violin, french horn Andra Kulans- Violin Eric Remschneider- Cello Bob Weston- Trumpet Robert Griffin- Trumpet Ken Vandermark- Tenor saxophone Jeb Bishop- Trombone Aaron Bright- Guitar, bass, drums Elizabeth Elmore- backing vocals Laura Katter- backing vocals Thom Monahan- backing vocals John Stirratt- backing vocals Alyssa Wendt- backing vocals, stomps & claps Karen & JoJo- Hand claps Dr. Brad- drums, tympani Chiyoko Yoshida- lead & backing vocals Paul Caton- Guitar Jay Price- Guitar, backing vocals Dave Ash- bass, backing vocals Steve Hands- drums, backing vocals Tim McNamara- brass, saxaphone Edgar Gabriel- Violin
Record Label: Ten O' Nine (USA) Hanky Panky / Sunthunder (Spain)
The Chamber Strings formed in 1997 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Kevin Junior (a native of Akron, Ohio) in Chicago. The band's critically adored debut 'Gospel Morning' was released on the Washington DC label ISM that same year & re-released with bonus tracks in 1999 on the Bobsled label. Recorded in Chicago & London, it combined such diverse influences such as Ray Davies, Brian Wilson, Brill Building pop, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Alex Chilton, 60's soul, Pretenders, Dan Penn, Only Ones, The Raspberries & Jimmy Webb into an unclassifiable style, giving the band it's own original identity & proving Junior to be a top songwriter in his own right with classic songs that had a timeless grandeur to them.
The group's stunning 2001 follow-up 'Month Of Sundays' was co-produced by Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers/Lilys) & saw the band expand it's sound with full orchestral string & brass arrangements (including renowned Chicago jazz musicians Ken Vandermark & Jeb Bishop) and allowed the band to channel it's more complex ambitions & influences such as Laura Nyro, Curtis Mayfield, Phil Spector, Bacharach & David, Todd Rundgren, & Dusty Springfield into a masterwork that landed them the number 1 record of the year in numerous publications. The LP was also released to great success in Japan & Europe.
The group toured The US & Europe several times, gaining a faithful following around the world and recieving an overwhelming amount of critical praise & honors such as landing on dozens of publications top 10 Lp's & Number 1 slots for 'Gospel Morning' & 'Month Of Sundays' (London's The Guardian had it in they're "Top 10 all-time neglected American classics"). The group also had the honor of performing on the well-respected NPR radio programs 'Sound Opinions' and Nic Harcourt's 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'.
Touring like mad, they had also found themselves headlining & sharing stages with Guided By Voices, Travis, Wilco (bassist John Stirratt co-wrote "Make It Through The Summer" with Kevin Junior, for The String's 2nd Lp & Stirratt's project Autumn Defense), The White Stripes, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Moe Tucker, Alex Chilton, Dandy Warhols, The Posies, Pernice Brothers, Webb Brothers (who also covered & released Junior's song "Everyday Is Christmas"), Evan Dando, Warlocks, Death Cab For Cutie, Real Kids, Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) & Super Furry Animals to name a few. Such well known names have come out to the band's shows like Nancy Sinatra, Ryan Adams, Hanson, Ron Sexsmith, members of Talking Heads, & Ben Stiller!
After the success of 'Month Of Sundays', the band took an extended hiatus. Leader Kevin Junior found himself unable to carry on. A long battle with depression ensued due in part to a divorce from his wife of 15 years, homelessness, drug addiction, and other health-releated problems. His Brian Wilson-esqe disappearance led many to wonder if he had dropped off the face of the Earth and would he ever return?
He has, indeed. From the fall of 2004 to mid-2005, Kevin toured extensively throughout Germany, Italy, Belgium, & England in a solo acoustic setting, while also serving time playing guitar for old-time partner Nikki Sudden on several European gigs. He also oversaw the release of 'Good Things', the final album from his late musical companian & friend, Epic Soundtracks. The record, is an Epic Sountracks/Kevin Junior collaberation & was recorded/produced in 1996 in London (Epic passed away in 1997) by Kevin Junior on his Tascam Porta3 4-track recorder. The album features only Epic Soundtracks (vocals/piano/some guitar) & Kevin Junior (guitar/backing vocals/percussion) & these tracks were only intended for demos at the time, yet it now stands as Epic's farewell, his last songs and recordings. Some critics believe it to be up there with his finest work.
2006 found Kevin Junior re-uniting with the classic 'Month Of Sundays' Chamber Strings lineup & returning to the stage & studio. On January 20th 2007, the band played they're first live show in 5 years to a sold-out Double Door in Chicago. The re-union has brought a renewed interest in this vastly underrated band, including a cover story in The Chicago Reader, features and reviews in The Chicago Tribune, Time-Out, San Francisco Guardian, SF Weekly, The Onion, Magnet Magazine, NPR's 'Shadow Classics' & Illinois Entertainer's top 25 local Lp's of the last 10 years, amongst others. A documentary film about the band is out now (www.gloriousnoise.com) and they were just featured on NPR's Sound Opinions (for the second time). Live shows are happening in the US again and the band has signed with Ten O' Nine Records for the band's long awaited 3rd LP. More news as it happens! (read less)
(bio via Facebook Jan 2011)
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