Thanks to Chicago’s The Sound Above Ground for the show review!
On a night that saw the Cubs drop the first game in their last ten against the Brewers, the Wisconsin invasion of Chicago continued further south at the Hideout (Chicago’s Most Loved Small Venue) as Madison’s, The Sharrows, took to the stage as openers for San Diego-based quartet, The Donkeys.
With a self-described “Farm Rock-N-Roll” sound, The Sharrows are a collaborative, grassroots band (evidenced in their sharing of singing/songwriting duties) well-deserving of your attention. Merely three years into its young career, the band has already shared the stage with the likes of The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lukas Nelson, Shovels & Rope, The Revivalists, Cornmeal and The Black Cadillacs, to name a few. The band also performed as part of the 2015 Midwest Showcase at Austin’s famed SXSW music festival.
The band opened their set at the Hideout with my favorite track, “Yours and Mine,” off of their 2014 5-song EP, “The Days of Yore.” The complex Americana tune is a dichotomy between its southern blues-rock verses and garage/stadium rock-inspired choruses. If you didn’t know any better, it would be easy to mistake the guitar riffs leading in to the verses for those of Jerry Garcia (think “Althea” or “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”). The choruses, on the other hand, invoke memories of the Van Morrison-led Them’s classic hit, “Gloria”, albeit in a more American fashion.
The remainder of their 7-song set was highlighted by crisp, blues inspired solos from lead guitarist, Matt Smith. With a style akin to those of southern rock greats Browan Lollar, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes (yep, went there), Smith’s guitar playing remains a stable foundation for the Sharrows as they continue to push the envelope musically.
Punctuated by a rousing drum solo, the Sharrows rounded out their set with “Echo.” Drummer Jacob Bicknase pounded away at his drum kit while bassist/singer Phil Sharrow belted out the last, soulful lines of the show, “Please baby please, please baby please, please baby please, won’t you bring it on home?”
To bring it on home, it’s great to hear Southern country/blues jam-rock music emanating from a band stationed North of the Mason-Dixon Line. I fully anticipate (and look forward to) the Sharrows to continue to bolster their reputation on the stage in and around Chicago–In the meantime, I highly recommend listening to their 2014 EP, “The Days of Yore.” On Spotify below: