by Mike Huberty
October 2008

Chicago's Blackdog

Chicago's Blackdog

Hailing from Chicago after forming in Madison from two musical soulmates, guitarists Anthony Alban and Sammy Reicher, BLACKDOG fuses influences of early 20th Century Delta Blues, 50’s rock n’ roll, and the Classic Rock Pantheon. Andrew Elbert, their drummer says, “ We all love roots music and have a foundation in blues and rock n’ roll. Our heroes are Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, BB King, and Buddy Guy.” After earning their undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin, they decided to take the band to the big city and almost the whole band moved to Chicago (they found a new bassplayer,  Jason Segal, when they got there.)

In addition to the classic rock traits (which should be expected with a Led Zeppelin song-inspired band name!) Elbert says “We call ourselves rock and roll, but we also play a little reggae and throw in some hip-hop beats.” And he brings interesting elements to the band that get even more esoteric, “I started playing drumline in middle school and played in band in high school. It’s always been a place to express myself and find solace. I play the djembe in addition to the drums, and bring those influences in the rock n’ roll music. They’re ideas from Guinea West Africa. I spent time in a West African dance and drum retreat, right around the time I joined Blackdog. Madison has a strong djembe scene and I’m still studying in Chicago.”

As far as a good introduction to the BLACKDOG’s sound, Elbert would recommend “The Travel Song” off their self-titled debut album recorded at Smart Studios in August of 2007. Elbert says, “We open a lot of shows with it, it’s got a real classic rock n’ roll feel with a contemporary edge.” And on first blush, you can hear the ripples of “When The Levee Breaks” flowing into “Sunshine of Your Love”-era Cream. Another good introductory track is ‘What Did She Do?”, which Elbert describes as “a strong blues riff and a showstopper, it’s easily recognizable and people can sing along to it.”

Returning to The High Noon Saloon in Madison on October 17th, Elbert is excited to come back to one of their favorite clubs and bring their live set. “Our show is feel good raw music and we definitely bring ‘a show’.”, he describes. “There’s a lot of visual dynamics, we step in time a lot, there’s musical virtuosity and visual cues in the music. It’s good dance music, you can release your energies in a solid rock n’ roll community.” As far as their plans for the future, BLACKDOG wants to just get on the road and go. “In 2008, we started moving out from Chicago and are breaking out now to Minneapolis, La Crosse, Milwaukee, and Ohio. In Chicago, there’s a festival you can go to almost every weekend and we really want to attack these through the New Year. We’d like to start moving into college atmospheres and use Chicago as a base while touring as much as possible.”

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