The Bryan Cherry Band -- fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/singer Cherry -- is still young; so young that guitarist Sean Williamson says the band was still in its infancy in July. Six months on, the band's debut EP -- recorded with Mike Hoffmann -- is imminent.
Hearing the band's deft blend of folk, blues and rock and roll -- skillfully and artfully rendered -- it's amazing to think these musicians have only been playing together for a year.
We asked Williamson about the story of this young band and where it's heading.
OMC: First, can you give us a quick history of the band?
SW: The group formed roughly one year ago, after (drummer) Chad Clausen and I saw Bryan perform at an acoustic open mic night by himself at Linneman's. Shortly thereafter, Bryan and I did a couple gigs as a duo, (with) me playing lap steel and electric guitars to Bryan's songs and the chemistry was "spot on."
Very soon after that, Chad Clausen -- who was also practicing with us throughout before playing live, entered the mix when we added Dylan (bass) -- who has played with me in various bands since the beginning of college. There was not much time playing together -- just some summer shows around town that included Summerfest -- before we decided to put it on the chopping block and play it live for 91.7 (WMSE).
We liked the results in the recording, as we saw there was much potential throughout, but wanted the real deal so we approached Mike, who I knew and heard so much about through my old co-worker Paul Biemann at Warpdrive Music. That's pretty much where we stand today.
OMC: How do you describe the band when people ask?
SW: We try to avoid conventional stereotypical analogies to other groups, as we feel we have a sound distinct to itself, but if I was forced to compare it would be something like: Combining the elegance of folk with the raucous and gripping intensity of rock. I would say Ben Harper's writing style encapsulates us in the way the music goes from a whisper to a scream.
OMC: You're about to release your second CD. What was it like working with Mike Hoffmann? Did his influence change the sound of the band at all?
SW: If you would like to call the WMSE live performance a release, then it would be the second. This work with Mike I would say is technically the first formal release.
Working with Mike was great. I can speak for the entire band when I say that the enviornment was conducive to success. Low pressure and hands-on to the right degree- meaning not too involved in the best sense. He really just let this happen for us ... I don't think he influenced the sound with a specific direction, and outside of him mixing and engineering, but more or less let it come out of us individually. I think he saw what Bryan was trying to convey in his voice and myself with my guitar work and simply worked to get it the best it could be.
OMC: Speaking of the live at WMSE CD, which has mostly the same songs,it must be interesting to hear the WMSE versions alongside the Hoffmann recordings.
SW: (It was) recorded really as the band was still an infant, but we noticed so much intensity and soul in its entirety that it served as a great intro piece to whomever may come into contact with the band.
OMC: When is the new CD due out? Is there a CD release party?
SW: CD is currently at duplication and is set to be available the night of the CD release show at Shank Hall on Friday, Feb. 2 at 9:30 p.m. Matt Turner plays bass throughout the EP -- except for one track which has the orginal bassist Dylan on it, and Matt will be playing for the release show. Joining us for the release is Dave Tamkin from Chicago and Hayward Williams from Milwaukee.
OMC: What happens next? Will the band hit the road, write more songs, take a break?
SW: No breaks ... we will sleep when we're dead!! We are right back in the studio with Mike working on a full length album with all brand new stuff written collaboratively. We'll be playing out as much as possible and promoting "Be Just Fine" as well as the new album that we hope is done by early summer. We have never had trouble writing, the trouble is getting it all on tape quick enough. I guess those are good problems to have.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.