Free concerts on many Monday nights are of the great things about the Empty Bottle. This week (April 19), the headliner was David Vandervelde. I first met Vandervelde a few years ago when I was interviewing the late Jay Bennett at his Chicago studios. Vandervelde hadn’t released any records yet, but he was hanging out with Bennett, collaborating and messing around on a variety of instruments. Bennett told me how talented (and multitalented) Vandervelde was.
When Vandervelde’s strong solo debut, The Moon Station House Band, came out in 2007 on the Secretly Canadian label, the Bennett influence was obvious. Both musicians clearly had a lot of love for catchy late ’60s and early ’70s rock and pop music. Vandervelde’s 2008 CD Waiting for the Sunrise is mellower, but it still harkens back to that era.
As a live performer, Vandervelde is louder and looser than he is in the studio, and so it was on Monday night. Vandervelde often sings with a soft edge to his voice, making it ideal for carrying a sweet pop melody, but he also solos on electric guitar with the sort of ragged, jagged lines Neil Young does with Crazy Horse. He paid tribute to Bennett (who died last year) by playing a song they wrote together, “California Breezes,” and then he finished off the show with one of the best tracks on that first album, “Nothing No,” another track co-written by Bennett.
Vandervelde (who was backed by a couple of musicians from one of the opening acts, Ghostfinger) told me afterward that he plans to record a new album this summer.
See my photos of David Vandervelde at the Empty Bottle… which are, admittedly, rather dark and grainy. Hey, it was dim in there.