The Sometimes Family at Subterranean 11/29/09

The Sometimes Family is a five-piece Soul/Folk band, based in Chicago, IL. They derive their sound from a combination of guitar, flute, organ, bass, drums, and four vocal parts. This assortment of instruments lends itself nicely toward the soul sound that made up a good portion of popular music in the sixties and early seventies.
I have seen this band play on numerous occasions in the last couple of years. In any given month, you can find them playing at any one of Chicago’s storied venues. Tonight was no exception. One only has to have a couple of conversations with local musicians in order to learn about how the Subterranean was once used as a hideout for Al Capone, and other gangsters of note. If you ever get the chance to see the green room at this place, you won’t find it hard to imagine yourself sitting around with a few other mobsters, drinking illegal whiskey, and waiting for the next plan of action to unfold, as weaponry might be readied for the next shootout, which of course, could have been at any given moment.
This is really a great image to keep in mind when seeing bands play there, or if you should ever have the good fortune of playing there yourself.
Having seen this band a number of times before, I already knew most of the set by heart, and could certainly sing along with nearly every song that was played.
Somehow, this band still managed to blow me away. This might be the first time I could say this particular phrase about this particular band.
Perhaps it was due to the incredible sound at the venue. The person who was running sound really knew what he was doing, in order to get the best sound out of the system. One of my biggest annoyances is going to a club, and having the sound cranked way too high for anyone to really enjoy what is happening. The sound here was loud, sure, but not deafening. It was appreciated. Also, I was able to hear the organ parts more distinctly than at other venues where I have seen this band.
Perhaps it was the change of drummers. Although it has been several months since this change was made, I have not really seen them play with the new drummer. He really adds a lot to the band, and he is very much in tune with everything that is happening.
But mostly, I think that it just happened to be a combination of all factors together in one place, at one time. This band is tight. You can tell by listening to them that they either must put in an incredible amount of time rehearsing the songs, or just have incredible musical chemistry. My hunch is both. They smile, and interact with each other on stage. From an outside eye, it seems that it would be a great deal of fun to play in this band. It is a good thing to see a band smile at each other, and to the crowd.
The crowd was an intimate gathering of around thirty. The folks who were there really enjoyed themselves, even getting into the spirit with occasional dance moves (a rarity in Chicago), and also calling out for an encore after the set was over.
The highlight of the evening, for me, was a song played somewhere near the end, which I believe was called ‘on and on’. I hadn’t heard it before, but it really resounded deeply with me. I started to get a feeling that I had been transported back in time, to a club a few decades ago, and that if The Sometimes Family were to keep playing songs for several more hours, I think I could lose myself completely in their sound.
This quintet of Chicago musicians really has something special to offer the city’s music scene, and lovers of live music would be wise to take a listen.

-all photos courtesy of David Sameshima. One can find David's photos of The Sometimes Family compiled here, a Flickr website.


1. Stand Up
2. It's Slow, but it Feels Alright
3. Apocalyptic Rap
4. Love
5. Put your Hands Together
6. Pockets and Peppermint
7. If its Love
8. On and On
9. It's a Wonder


10. Shallow ShareThis

Comment (1)

That is a very generous review. Thank you, Chris!

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