By Ken Trainor
The term "supergroup" gets tossed around a lot in the music business. It generally applies to a fusion of individually successful musicians who come together on occasion, perform together a time or two and then go their separate ways. That might have described The Flat Five 10 years ago when they would meet up for a sold-out holiday show once a year at the Hideout in Chicago. But once a year just didn't scratch the itch for this amazing quintet.
The Flat Five is made up of five outrageously talented, in-demand musicians from the Chicago area. Scott Ligon, Casey Mcdonough, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Conner Kean & Alex Hall spend most of their time individually and in pairs touring and recording with Neko Case, NRBQ, Mavis Staples, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Jakob Dylan, Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo and many other heavy hitters, but it's when they meet up and blend those glorious voices and instruments, that the magic happens.
A Flat Five show is a joyous lovefest for both their fans and for the band itself. Their vocal harmonies are organic and simply uncanny, with a repertoire that ranges from the Beach Boys and Magnetic Fields to Captain Beefheart and a five-part vocal rendering of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." There are simply no limits and by the end of a sold-out evening, their audiences are euphoric.
Sprinkled among the gems of a Flat Five show are songs written by Scott Ligon's older brother Chris Ligon, a singular eclectic songwriter whose blend of sweetness, humor and quirky insights it them like a glove. It's Chris Ligon's songs that The Flat Five chose to honor with their debut release on Augidisc/Bloodshot Records on Oct. 14.
And, wonder of wonders, it is on that release date, this Friday at 5:30 p.m., The Flat Five have chosen to appear on the Val's halla stage, performing songs from "It's a World of Love & Hope, a tribute to the songs of Chris Ligon." It is simply an event not to be missed (even if I do say so myself).
Val's halla Records is located at 239 Harrison in Oak Park. Call 708-524-1004 for more info.
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