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IPO Chicago 2018

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Artists From Chicago


Almond & Olive
– Comprised of singer-songwriters Natalie Alms and Ollie Davidson, Almond & Olive creates inspiring songs that span the folk and Americana genres, while also incorporating Alms’ timeless vocals and the duo’s distinct songwriting.

Together their voices lay down a solid base and tone, funneling you into succinct chorus melodies that build into a crescendo of rich and powerful harmonies.

The end result of each song is satisfying and expressive, weaving together themes of love, fear, hope and loss. Check out their debut album, Standing At The Precipice, and their IPO showcase to see and hear for yourself!
Phil Angotti – The venerable musician is practically a household name in power pop circles, and especially in his home town of Chicago.

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Both he and his band The Idea have released a bunch of tremendous CDs, and Phil’s latest effort, Life and Rhymes, proves he just keeps getting better!

We were honored to host the debut performance of Material Re-Issue at IPO Chicago in 2011, and Phil Angotti’s lead vocals and guitar channeled the spirit of Jim Ellison as well as it could possibly be done.
Dina Bach – As a singer, songwriter, and pianist, Dina focuses on pop and country-pop where her warm vocals and playfully evocative lyrics entertain listeners and audiences alike.

Her musical influences range from Sara Bareilles and Norah Jones to Carol King and Frank Sinatra, and she’s been gaining some rave reviews from a wide array of sources, such as this one from the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce: “Her lyrics and melodies are touching, seductive and thoughtful, and her piano and vocals are simply captivating.” Her latest project, started in late 2016 after the release of her Kiss Me Like That EP, has been to write and release an original song each week…stay tuned to her website and YouTube channel to hear them all!
Bad Bad Meow – Recognized in 2015 by Music Connection as one of their 100 Hot Unsigned Bands, Bad Bad Meow has not slowed down, and in fact just keeps getting better!

Lead singer/songwriter Alen Khan is the eye at the center of a tornado of ever-evolving bandmates who deliver a fun, energy packed set with clever and edgy lyrics that you can’t help but find yourself humming later. Their latest album, BENGHAZI!, will appeal to fans of artists such as The B-52s, Zappa, and The Talking Heads, to name but a few!
Jason Batchko – Though some may be more used to seeing Batchko behind the drums in several local pop/rock acts – most noteably Caviar and Scott Lucas & The Married Men – he’s also a singer/songwriter/comedian in his own right.

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Come check out his IPO showcase for a dose of mirth, merriment, and music, as only he can do it!
The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club – Drawing from a diverse array of musical styles, The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club’s latest disc, cheekily named Don’t Buy This Record, has a bit of something for everyone. Song arrangements are the product of technique, style and innovation with great attention to detail in the areas of tone, rhythm, harmony and song structure.

The band’s instrumentation is largely guitar-based but includes a wide range of other instruments, such as keys, trumpet, synth, harmonica, percussion instruments and even occasionally a theremin or ukulele, to craft unique sounds, moods and tones. The result is a mix of indie rock, power pop new wave, and dance club R&B that is truly infectious!
Blameless Lake – Essentially the outlet for the songwriting talents of main man Matt Wilke, Blameless Lake’s songs are written to work in both full band and solo acoustic settings with a sound that can vary from guitar-based power pop similar to The Replacements, Elvis Costello, and The Who to duet-oriented alt-country similar to Neko Case and Patsy Cline when Wilke is accompanied by his wife Ruth.

Blameless Lake released not one, but two, EPs last year, both of which are available from their bandcamp page and other fine music streaming services.

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Fans of the aforementioned artists should check them out!
The Blind Leaders – Jamie Bachmann all but swore off music following the dissolution of his previous band, Quiet Kid, in 2007.

Impressed by the rawness and depth of tone he was able to wring from some “micro” amps he purchased, a concept evolved into proving that great music could be made with the cheapest and smallest equipment he could find, and all from his basement. The resulting album, 2016’s Tin Ears, is a mashup of songs ranging from grunge to heavy anthemic pop, to the power pop of Bachmann’s previous band, but times 10, and it’s all done with a message of urgency and action.

Flash forward to 2018, and The Blind Leaders are fleshed out and ready to perform as an explosive live act that we can hardly wait to see and hear!
Blind Trust – An all-original rock n’ roll band whose four members are veterans of the Chicago music scene, Blind Trust’s trademark musical approach combines strong musicianship, catchy melodies, acerbic songwriting, and rollicking on-stage energy.


Check out their recently released debut album, The Top End, and their IPO showcase to see and hear for yourself!
Brontë Fall – The songs on Brontë Fall’s debut album, Silhouette Dances, are a musical potion of edgy pop-rock, Americana, and band founder Teri Bracken’s classical music training that allow all of the influences of Bracken’s personal journey to seep through as she continues to pursue this adventure of music and life.

Bracken’s songs are unedited, honest, modern, and, at times, impolite.

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Outspokenly feminine and reminiscent of the Brontë sisters, who dared to have a voice in a time when women didn’t, Bracken’s voice has come to boldly define Brontë Fall. Fans of artists from Bonnie Raitt and Carole King to Alison Kraus and Gwen Stefani will dig it!
Tony Calderisi Band – Calderisi is known to many an IPO-goer as the main man of Telstar, who came most highly recommended by the estimable Mike G of local stalwarts, The Valley Downs.

Calderisi specializes in a warm combination of power pop and Americana, and he and his new band are ready to rock…and what a voice he has!
The Cells – They proudly describe their sound as “high-decibel post-pop with catchy lyrics, big harmonies, and loud, loud guitars,” but that doesn’t take into account their chord changes, which are damned inventive and hooky!

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Their 2016 EP, Blood in the Tracks, features previously lost studio recordings which will stick in your head for days; we can’t wait to hear them play these songs live again at IPO!!
Claire and the Bears – A band whose influences run wide, from classic rock, to country, to punk, to pop, the sextet came together in January of 2017, with the goal of making music people can dance to…and we think they’ve succeeded quite nicely!

The songs on their debut self-titled EP were made to make you tap your toes and swing your hips, and will appeal to fans of artists such as Johnny Cash and Lady Antebellum, or anyone with an appreciation for boy-girl harmonies, growling guitars, and great hooks!
Michael Steven Cohen – Known to many an IPO audience as one of the main men of The Abbeys and The Pop Dollys, both of which have long been staples at IPO Chicago, Cohen is stepping out at IPO for the first time as a solo performer.

He’s been cooped up for a while, playing guitar and amassing a new program of what he claims are the most melodic, incredible, memorable love songs from the mid-20th century.

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Expect him to pull out some jazz and pop standards, big band stuff with just his voice & guitar, and to tell a little story about the song (when there is one)!
Larry O.

Dean – Purveyor of songs and sardonica in equal measure, Larry O.

The Leading Voice-Based Social Network

Dean is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, band-leader, poet, journalist, educator, existentialist, and raconteur (and all-around great guy!), who has appeared at past IPO Chicagos in many guises. Whether performing as the main man of projects such as The Post Office, The Me Decade, or The Injured Parties, as the host of his monthly “Folk You!” series, or solo – as he will at this year’s IPO – Dean’s songs are filled in equal measure with melody and wry witticism, making him a perennial IPO favorite!

Check out Good Grief, his 13th solo CD, and the first since 2001 to feature all new material!
The Devonns – A new band drawing on influences ranging from early ‘60s soul & Motown throught ‘70s funk, all the way to ‘80s R&B and dance, and featuring the vocal and keyboard talents of Mathew Ajjarapu, brother to Phil (see below) and uncle to Molly, who gets the award as the cutest four-legged side kick to ever appear at IPO! Fans of bands like The Isley Brothers, The System, and The Bar-Kays are in for a real treat!
Christopher Elam – A singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist currently putting the finishing touches on his third solo record.

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Past bands include Plains, Shelley Miller, and the Nashville Wreckers. His folky style and silky voice may remind one of Elliot Smith if he was part of the Canterbury scene in the early ‘70s!
The Francos – Long time Chicago power pop fans may remember these guys from way back in the late ‘80s, when their rule of the local scene was as short and sweet as their characteristic hook-laden nuggets of power pop with a dusting of bubblegum and garage.

But fear not, friends, ‘cause they’re back, they’ve still got the hooks, and IPO’s thrilled to have ‘em!
Freetoed – They bring to the stage over ten years of playing music together around Chicago. With roots influenced by the likes of Wilco and Badly Drawn Boy, their songs climb and fall, peeling back and layering on both the melodic and dissonant. While these qualities are better emphasized nowhere else than at their live show, longtime fans and new converts alike will also want to check out their latest EP, Bubble Psychology//2//Elliptical Perimeters!
Gal Gun – Understated complexity topped off by instantly accessible melodies make Gal Gun stand out from the crowded Chicago garage-rock scene.

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Drawing heavy influences from ‘90s behemoths like Weezer and Blur while balancing a softer sound influenced by Belle & Sebastian and The Shins, their sound is equal parts familiar and refreshing. The band’s music and lyrics hope to strike a chord between triumph and heartbreak, emulating the Mancunian bands of the ‘80s in their ability to hide a world-weary pessimism amidst a full pop stride and have fun doing it!

Their debut full length album, Special Music of Emotion, was recently released on local music label, Dumpster Tapes, and is sure to find a home in the collection of many a fan of fuzzy rock hooks, clever chord changes, and sweet vocal harmonies!
The Jay Goeppner Band – He’s performed in over 15 countries, and has sung with Roger Daltrey, Dave Matthews and Cheap Trick, but local rocker Jay Goeppner is perhaps best known for his love of The Beatles.

In fact, if you live in Chicago, you may have heard him on the Johnny B or Kevin Matthews radio shows as a Beatle Brother!

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You are therefore in for a real treat as he combines his penchant for penning Beatle-esque melodies with his considerable chops performing with the aforementioned power pop legends, and steps out as the leader of his own kick-ass band doing his own original material!
The Jades – An indie/folk duo who are taking Chicago by storm, The Jades are Katie Krenning and Kathleen Lieffers, two bad-ass chicks playin’ some folky tunes and singin’ some sibling harmonies around the Midwest.

Their 2016 EP, Like Havoc, and recently released single, “That Sad Song,” will appeal to fans of artists such as The Dixie Chicks, Suzanne Vega, and Edie Brickell. Come out and welcome them to their first IPO!
Josefina – A singer-songwriter based in Chicago via Buenos Aires, Josephina’s simple, airy vocal stylings pair with alt-country production chock full of piano, B-Bender, Pedal Steel, and 12-string that would have found an easy home on Asylum Records in the 1970s.

But this isn’t a throwback to Joni or Emmylou. This is a modern girl making music with a scant twang and an infectious lightness of being.

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Her recently released Starry Dome EP will also appeal to fans of ‘60s girl groups, Motown and ‘70s power pop…definitely a talent worth watching!
The Joy Poppers – Beloved among power poppers and indie-rockers “in the know” in the mid- to late- ‘90s, The Joy Poppers had the perfect blend of neo-psychedelic jangle and harmony combined with mind-bending chord changes.

Their 1995 album,

U.S. Artists From Outside of Chicago

Phil Ajjarapu – Ajjarapu currently makes his home in Portland (by way of Austin), and has played bass and pedal steel for many bands over the years, and was finally prompted to make his solo album after a near fatal accident in March of 2012.

Said album, Sing Along Till You Feel Better, is an album made for people who like albums, by a person who adores albums.

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Fans of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Big Star, Jellyfish, and The Posies will dig it! Don’t miss his IPO show, where he’ll have Molly (his dog and sidekick) in tow!
Certain Stars – Forwarding the melodic sound and power pop of bands such as Superchunk and Big Star, a Certain Stars hook can take up space in your head for days.

All members of this Milwaukee combo take on songwriting duties that uniquely add to the whole. Their latest CD, The Great Destroyer, adds a classic album rock feel that’s impossible to resist!

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They’ve also recently completed recording and mixing for a brand new album due out in late spring/early summer this year – we can hardly wait to hear it!
Gordy GarrisThe Review Magazine of Garris’ home town, Saginaw, Michigan, proclaims “Pop-rocker Gordy Garris established himself firmly as a singer with a gift for writing “hooks.” Said hooks, along with his gentle folk pop melodies, and anthemic uplifting lyrics on his latest release,

U International Artists

Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold – She sings like Benatar, plays like Jett and has a penchant for writing ‘90s-inspired anthems.

Acclaimed one of the Top #10 indie talents across Canada, within a mere six months of forming, Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold conquered audiences of over 25,000, performing at notable festivals and winning over crowds of twenty-somethings and baby boomers alike. 2018 is already off to a running start for the award-winning trio with scheduled performances at Vans Warped Tour (Toronto), Yellow Springs Street Fair (Ohio), Waterfront Festival (Barrie), and other fine festivals, including (of course) IPO Chicago.

Definitely a band to watch for big things to come!