We covered the reunion of one of Chicago’s favorite bands, The Blacks, in a couple of original video features (documentary, live return) in 2006. Now it looks as though bassist and namesake Gina Black has a new project with Chicago multi-instrumentalist Marshall Hanbury Jr. The result is a collection of lovely acoustic numbers heavy on harmonies and simple production called Pinstripe 45s. Hanbury has a great sense of melody and his and Black’s voices mingle into a lovely tone that sounds more like one complex sound than two that compliment each other.
There’s a good bit of traditional folk rock leanings in there with hints of Dylan, Donovan or Bonnie & Delaney, but it’s not simple rehashing or revisioning of late-60s/early-70s folk rock (as much as I love that too). There is something decidedly contemporary about these songs, even if they have one foot firmly planted in the past. And isn’t that exactly what you want from a folk singer?
You’ve already seen our two-part video/interview feature on the Blacks. That mini-doc contained footage from the soundcheck. And because people have been asking for it, we’re now finally bringing some footage from the actual show later that night.
In the video clip post after the jump, see the legendary Chicago band perform “New New Waltzing Blues” and “Fake Out Jesus.” (Also, a couple of bonus videos from the two other bands on the bill, Riviera and Quasar Wut-Wut.)
Legendary Chicago band The Blacks blew open the No Depression scene with gender bending stage shows and genre twisting music. Signed to Bloodshot Records in the late 90s and embraced by critics, it seemed like the band was well on the way to re-imagining country music for larger audiences until it all fell apart among the alcohol soaked costumes and volatile relationships that doomed this bastard son of Hank Williams and Bon Scott. Here, we present a feature article and mini-documentary on the newly reunited band who traveled dark roads and ultimately got lost.
Walking up to the large, blue house on Chicago’s north side where the Blacks were rehearsing for their reunion show at the Empty Bottle, I had to check my notebook and confirm the address. Having been to many, many basement rehearsals, I was confused by the eerie silence that made this residential neighborhood seem darker than it already was. As I came around to the rear basement door, the tell tale signs of a band at work finally came within earshot. Through the cinder block and cement foundation I could hear the mournful wail of Hank Williams, the soulful call and response of the Staples Singers, the thumping bass of Bill Black, and beneath it all the unmistakable backbeat of rock and roll. This was the right spot.