Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons
Friday, July 5th
Soapbox • 255 N. Front St.
doors: 8 p.m., show: 9 p.m.
Cory Chisel’s bare, emotive storytelling and smooth, flawless country-rock vocals equate a sound likened to great American musicians, such as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. The son of a preacher from Appleton, WI, Chisel was sheltered from pop tunes, raised solely on hymns and Johnny Cash. His music is the consummation of his culture. His mother played piano and organ, and his uncle taught him about early-20th century blues.
Today the guitarist and singer-songwriter—whose goal is to make music that speaks to his soul and is understandable to a vast, varied group of people—performs as a duo with Adriel Harris who plays keys and sings back-up. Her airy pipes pair well with his rich vocals, but, more importantly, she is the first to encounter each of Chisel’s songs. Harris, who often writes with Chisel, makes for a bewitching collaboration.
Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons appeared on “Conan” in 2012. He has shared stages with Jason Isbell and Boz Skaggs, and he even toured internationally with Norah Jones. His latest release, “Old Believers,” was recorded at Welcome to 1979, an all-analog studio in Nashville. Chisel worked with producer and musician Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs).
Presented by Wilmington Unplugged, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons will perform at Soapbox Laundro-Lounge on Friday, July 5th along with local acts Onward, Soldiers and Barnraisers. “Cory absolutely amazed me at his performance at last year’s Lighthouse Beer Festival,” Billy Mellon, the founder of Wilmington Unplugged, tells. “We share a few friends in the music business, and we got to hang a little after the festival and get to know one another. He is a great guy with a lot of talent but very humble and easy to talk to.”
Mellon explains when he builds a bill, he tries to consider bands that would like to hear the other performers, too. “I think all three acts will be entertained by their bill-mates,” he says. “Onward, Soldiers are good friends of mine and, in my opinion, the best rock band in Wilmington. They are a perfect match for Cory’s group; the union made perfect sense. I am a huge fan of the Barnraisers—they are outstanding performers and their musical style fits seamlessly.”
The Greensboro brewery Natty Greene’s also will unveil its Freedom IPA at the event as well in celebration of Independence Day and to endorse good tunes. “I am a big supporter of the craft-beer movement and, in particular, the local NC movement,” Mellon describes. “I have always enjoyed what Natty Greene’s has been doing to help push NC craft beer to the next level. [Plus], the brewery is hugely supportive of music.”
encore caught up with Chisel to learn a little more about his influences and inspiration.
encore (e): You’ve said money is not why you are here creating music. How does living the life of an artist, a true storyteller through song, satisfy you emotionally and creatively?
Cory Chisel (CC): How it satisfies I’m not completely sure… But it offers a type of exercising for the subconscious. It brings meaning and clarity that I’ve searched for in many less constructive practices. It’s a way to stay on the higher plane and not fall off the edge.
e: I think the character development in your songs is interesting. Are you influenced by certain literary artists? Why do you think it’s important to bring your characters through an evolution?
CC: Well, there’s Hemingway and Kerouac, Joyce, and Fitzgerald. And we’re all just small shadows against their mountain. I think it’s important to bring characters out so we can see ourselves, so we can scream at ourselves like we are actors in a movie. You know just what a person should do when you observe them objectively through a song. Helps you find common humanity. When Johnny said he shot a man in Reno, I can find the part of myself that did that.
e: You seem to be inspired by the woods—what is so intriguing to you about nature?
CC: Any type of savage beauty inspires me. Nature has beautiful lines it draws. I think when you call out the tall pines in a song you not only see them but you smell them, and you feel their safety—and are a little excited by any secrets they may conceal.
e: Tell me about your experience recording “Old Believers.” What was it like being in the vintage space, and what did you enjoy about recording on tape?
CC: Well without sounding obvious, it’s pretty old-school in the best way. Mistakes are kept and accepted as a great part of a song. Record on tape and [expose] what you’re really made of, the good and the bad.
e: If you could collaborate on a track or album with anyone you haven’t worked with before, who would you choose?
CC: Easy… Tom Waits. I’d sing a nursery rhyme if he said I did it justice. Also Kris Kristofferson. No one finds the god-awful truth like them. Except Dylan… But let’s not be that fucking greedy.