Thursday, August 15, 2013

Frances Luke Accord at the Chicago Songwriter's Alliance, 8/13/13

By Rob Ryan

Frances Luke Accord
Twenty people sit in a back room on a Tuesday night in silence. Normally, the din of dining and chatter would drown out any peace and quiet at a restaurant. However, this is not your average Tuesday night at Uncommon Ground on Clark.

The ceiling fan spins lazily, not adding any real comfort to those below. Blue and red lights cast a familiar hue over two microphones at the front of the room. Anyone who's accustomed to live music knows the color. It seems like every stage in every bar in every city basks in red and blue.

On the left side of the stage, Brian Powers of Frances Luke Accord steps through the purple haze and up to a mic.

"This song is called Insomnia," he says as the second half of Frances Luke Accord, Nick Gunty, begins tapping on the Cajón, a box-shaped percussion instrument that doubles as a chair. The song starts slowly but soon the band picks up speed and hits their stride. Nick slaps and taps the Cajón with vigor, creating a baseline of traditional African beats. It seems fitting that he is cast in red.

Those in the audience begin to nod their head. Some in approval, some just instinctively. This is not your ordinary crowd. This is the Chicago Songwriter's Alliance.

They're here to perfect their craft. Test their nerves. Hone their skills. There are seasoned musicians as well as amateur songwriters in the audience. Despite the range in experience, they're all in it together. Every lyric and rhyme is scrutinized yet each song is followed by enthusiastic applause.

Founded by Dastardly's Gabe Liebowitz, the Chicago Songwriter's Alliance has a show every week at various locations around the city. Not only does the group allow local musicians to showcase their songs, it also connects the artists to music management gurus like Ryan Sweeney of Wine From the Moon. Sweeney hosts the event at Uncommon Ground every third Tuesday of the month.

Guitar and Cajón reverberating in unison, Brian Powers backs away from the mic with a smile and a, "Thank you," as Nick Gunty rises from his instrumental chair.

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