Supporting Acts: Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos
Brandon McHose looks at the five dynamic years he spent on the scene in Austin as something of a "musical grad school" where he developed his chops as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer. High-tailing it back to his home region of the Midwest, the Des Moines native chose Chicago for a batch of exciting new career opportunities and never looked back. Since hitting "The Big Windy" in 2010, the multi-talented artist has headlined at the Hard Rock Cafe, Taste of River North Festival and the House of Blues Foundation Room, in addition to creating successful residencies for himself in neighborhood venues (like the Citizen Room) that had never had music before. While his sizzling guitar sound and powerhouse live performances have earned him hundreds of fans throughout the city, Chicago's thriving indie music scene is also a springboard for McHose's latest touring endeavors along the I-35 corridor, which stretches from Northern Minnesota through his home region of Central Iowa down to Southern Texas. McHose launched his recording career with two well received acoustic based full length albums helmed by big name producers. Life Eclipse (2007) was produced by Chris Maresch, who has played with Eric Johnson; the set featured famed keyboardist Riley Osbourne, who once played with Stevie Ray Vaughan's band Double Trouble. Token (2008) was produced by Michael Ramos, a onetime member of The BoDeans whose credits include John Mellencamp and Los Lonely Boys. These two indie releases set the stage for the explosive new, electric guitar driven sound he unveils on his new four track EP Late Night. Two of the tracks are already impacting multiple radio formats; "Next 3" recently hit the Triple AAA format and the title track "Late Night" is in rotation on many college radio stations. Combining the melodically infectious, lyrically insightful vibe of classic singer/songwriters (James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon) with a Santana/Beck/Van Halen-like ability to shred, McHose has evolved into a multi-faceted artist in the tradition of his chief influences Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix and—straight from his country phase—Vince Gill and Brad Paisley. McHose attributes the inspiration of the vibrant, high energy, classic rock influenced "Late Night"—a chronicle of a well traveled rocker's ups and downs on the road–to two other legends: "I wanted it to be a combination of a cool Sublime song mixed with Tom Petty." The track features one of the singer's favorite Austin drummers, Wayne Salzman, who has played with Eric Johnson and Steve Miller. "Next 3" is another sizzling, electric guitar driven rocker, jangling along the road with featuring McHose's soaring vocals as the singer reflects on the challenges of the past three years and looks forward to exciting, less stressful adventures in the future. A straightforward, "getting over the negatives of the last relationship" tune, "Leave It All Behind" adds a bed of dense percussion to the hard rocking mix and includes one of McHose's most passionate electric solo spots. The closing track "Just Say When" combines the best of both of the singer/guitarist's worlds; it's a mid-tempo ballad driven by the acoustic sound that defined his earlier songs but includes a cool, subtle electric guitar harmony line and a powerful solo that has what he calls "a Larry Carlton/Skunk Baxter" flavor towards the end of the track. "The producers I worked with on my first two albums liked my sound," McHose says, "because they thought I had a unique style on acoustic guitar that was not bland and typical of most singer/songwriters. Acoustic was the right niche for me for a while, but I've gotten a lot stronger vocally over the past few years and that has made my voice more compatible with songs with electric guitar. A lot of my earlier songs could have been stronger had I taken that approach. All along, I wanted to transcend being pigeonholed as yet another acoustic based singer. The idea behind the four tracks on Late Night was to showcase my work on the electric and emerge with a whole different aggressive tone, with a lot of rough edges compared to my older material. For most singer/songwriters, the guitar is a secondary tool to enhance their songs. I like to think of myself as a guitar player first—but one who is lucky enough to be able to use it in the context of writing strong songs that connect emotionally with listeners." Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Brandon McHose was introduced to the guitar by his father, once an aspiring guitarist himself. That's a common story, a parent sharing passion with a child, but the guitar McHose his dad used to teach him, a 74 Les Paul, makes the history just a bit more extraordinary. His father's eclectic music collection introduced the young musician to legends like The Beatles, Stones and The Who, but McHose says the reason he began playing more seriously was the solo he saw Joe Walsh do on VH1, in a clip from when he was with The Eagles. He went through a lot of "guitar god" phases—Hendrix, Stills, Knopfler, Atkins, Gill, Paisley—all the while gravitating towards great singer/songwriters like Sting and 90s rockers like Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers. McHose's equal passion and skill in track and field earned him a full scholarship to Drake University, but he left after one year to ponder his musical future. His family sought professional advice by meeting with the Assistant Chair of the Guitar Department at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston. After McHose auditioned, the professor's professional opinion was that his skill and talent levels were far beyond that of a typical student; he recommended that the best road for him was not four years in college but to embark immediately on his career. McHose took this advice and chose Austin, Texas as the perfect environment to hone his craft. While making the connections necessary to launch his recording career, he worked his way up to playing live four nights a week, performing at such venues as The Saxon Pub and Threadgill's. "It's easy to get comfortable in Austin, but there's also the feeling that you can get to a certain plateau and stay there," he says. "Since it's a college town, a lot of the fans artists make eventually move away, so it's hard to develop a consistent career. I felt that moving to a major market like Chicago would be a great step forward, not only because of the many opportunities to perform in the city and surrounding area, but also because it's centrally located, close to my hometown of Des Moines and a great centrally located base to tour from. "That's really where the excitement happens," McHose adds, "up there onstage. I love feeling the energy from the crowd and trying new things with the songs and with my guitar every night. I never play written solos and I like to try different spontaneous arrangements and segues into songs. I have done hundreds of acoustic gigs, and don't mind mixing it up, but I have the most fun now playing live with my band. I can pull out my electric and really let loose."
Categories: Concerts & Tour Dates
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