Real Originality

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Thursday February 20, 2014

From The Chicago Tribune

*Sidewalk Chalk writing its own musical story”
By: Jessica Hopper

While many Chicago bands strive hard for originality, it’s unlikely any of them could best Sidewalk Chalk, the local hip-hop ensemble that features an MC, a jazz vocalist, a big band (replete with a horn section) and tops it with – what else? – a tap dancer. The octet releases its new album, “Leaves,” this week. It’s the band’s first truly collaborative recorded effort, that it will celebrate with a show this weekend. Vocalist Maggie Vagle spoke to the Tribune about this week about how surprisingly easy it’s been to work with with so many moving parts. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Q: How did Sidewalk Chalk come together?

A: I met Rico (Sisney), who is the MC in the band, a few years before we met at an open mic at Columbia (College), where we we both going to school for music. When I heard and saw him I thought “I want to work with that man.” And then later on, a couple years later, during our final year of college we got together with Charlie (Coffeen) and Garett (McGinn), who play keys and bass – and the four of us would get together and play. From there we added Tyler (Berg), Sam (Trump) and David (Ben-Porat). Jumaane (Taylor), who does the tap dancing, we added him for a show and … realized “this is our sound.”

Q: Did you think, when you started, that you needed to recruit a corps of people?

A: I don’t think I ever though about that, thinking there would be more. It just naturally happened and but after Jumaane and the horns, I remember thinking that “this is it.” But no, not conciously did we go for that sound. But they are integral to the sound. We were feeling it as it happened.

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