Tag Archives: bluegrass

Chaz Hearne and The Legend of Core Dynamo—bluegrass, folk and comic book heroes

After stints with a folk duo, then a bluegrass group, Chaz Hearne decided to go the solo route. And it’s a good thing, because he doesn’t seem to quite fit either of those categories, although his style is extending the boundaries of both.

If that sounds a bit confusing, consider the premise of his debut solo effort, straight from the source himself: “The Legend of Core Dynamo is a political album that tackles some heavy subject matter through the lens of folk songs and comic book characters. Core Dynamo is supposed to stand for an incorruptible leader but people have lost faith in authority.” (It’s appropriate now to mention that Hearne wrote the album while living in Chicago…)

As it turns out, the music is not confusing nor corrupt. It is, however, unconventional. Hearne is learned in guitar, banjo and piano and you will hear all three wielded to great effect, along with vocals that are easy to rally behind.

As far as the tracks go, the song Core Dynamo unmistakably evokes a 60’s/70’s folk movement, while The Legend is neither folk nor bluegrass and includes an anthem-like rock guitar solo. One brings more of the traditional bluegrass feel but, again, leans into something different. Bigger. (There’s even a little Grateful Dead in there.)

Disjointed? Perhaps a little. Hearne seems to be at his best when pushing his folk and bluegrass roots to the edges, without crossing over completely. But ultimately, The Legend of Core Dynamo is everything a solo album should be—a one-of-a-kind composition built on one’s myriad of experiences and influences. And it’s really good.

Click to listen to The Legend of Core Dynamo, and you can catch Chaz Hearne live at Uncommon Ground on October 1. Here’s his website.

Check out Chicago’s Mandy & the Bandits

It’s that time of the year–barbecues, beers, and a game of bags. And if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your splendid afternoon, check out Mandy & the Bandits.

This Chicago group is coming off their first tour of select Southern and Midwestern states, spreading the sounds from their latest release, When Darkness Glows. You’ll find some bluegrass and country, spots of jazz, and rock and roll; all accompanied with airy vocals and executed with purposefully loose precision.

Amanda Crumley pieced together Mandy & the Bandits, forming a talented crew of seven musicians, and two special guests including Nick Ascher, who provides an effortless pedal steel. For many bands, such a large group presents problems. Mandy & the Bandits, on the other hand, thrive.

When Darkness Glows showcases Mandy & the Bandits’ versatility, and deep commitment to their own style. Country can be a tough sell around here. But having already played some of Chicago’s best venues (Martyr’s, Uncommon Ground, Jerry’s), we expect Mandy & the Bandits to keep turning heads, and tapping toes.

Have a listen below to Heartless Man.