2017 is bound to have a cheery end to it with its holiday season. Some top names have released albums this year and now that Thanksgiving is officially over I guess we can take ourselves off “Private Session” on Spotify and be proud of our music selections. We’ve all been sneaking a listen here and there. Gwen Stefani, Sia, Mariah Carey, and 98 Degrees have all released Holiday albums this year.
All worth checking out, but I highly recommend listening to Lindsey Sterling’s Holiday album “Warmer in Winter.” This renowned violinist puts a quirky, blues-rock twist on holiday classics. These aren’t your typical holiday tunes you’re used to. “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” was an instant favorite for me.
Derrick Procell has been grooving the Chicago Music scene for over 30 years. We are very fortunate to have him leading the Stitely dance band “Chicago Groove Collective”. Check out our new Musician’s Spotlight showcasing his talents and what he’s up to outside of Stitely Entertainment.
Where did your passion and drive for music come from? More specifically, blues?
According to my mother, I was literally whistling in the crib! I’ve always had music goin’ round my head as far back as I can remember. I used to sneak my transistor radio into bed and listen under the covers. I would sing along with my favorite songs and seemed to understand the relationship between the melodies and the harmonic structure of the songs.
I took piano lessons as a kid, so that helped to develop my ears. As I began playing in cover bands, I had to try to cover all sorts of styles, but I seemed to lean toward the singers that had a certain amount of soul in their voices. A lot of the British acts of the time…Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds…were heavily influenced by American Blues artists. As I came into my own as a singer, I found that producers would hire me specifically because they wanted that soulful sound. In fact, early in my career as a studio singer, I showed up at a jingle session for one of Chicago’s top producers that I had never worked for before. Everyone ignored me as I sat on the couch watching the session happening. Finally, he came over and asked who I was. He, in a very flustered manner, told me that he had been expecting a black singer, based on my demo tape! I told him it was OK… more than a few folks had made that assumption.
Name a few of your musical influences.
Procol Harum, Eric Burden, Little Feat, Steely Dan, Warren Zevon, The Beatles, Jackson Browne, James Brown, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, Gregg Allman, Floyd Cramer, Johnny Cash, Elvis and pretty much anybody I listen to on any regular basis. They all play a role in the music that comes out of me.
Talk about your newest release and how did the idea for it get started?
I began writing songs with my lyricist partner, Grammy winner Terry Abrahamson, around 2011. We had met years earlier when I was a busy studio singer on the Chicago advertising scene. Terry had worked with a lot with Blues artists like Muddy Waters, George Thorogood, John Lee Hooker, etc. The song demos we were recording were getting a lot of acclaim for the production and for my vocals, so I decided to release a bunch of them, along with a few self-penned songs, in 2016 as a CD, WHY I CHOOSE TO SING THE BLUES. I hired a publicist…best decision I’ve ever made, next to marrying my wife…and the record was incredibly well reviewed and played internationally.
Tell us about the writing process for your songs and where your inspiration comes from-is any of it autobiographical or personal in nature?
Music has always come easier for me than lyrics. When I started working with Terry, I knew right away I had found an amazing storyteller. We like to believe that we’ve hit upon the kind of chemistry that only the best songwriting teams have. I do still occasionally write one from my own lyrics, but I already have a backlog of the prolific Terry’s tunes! And we are finally starting to see some success with our songs being picked up by other artists and organizations. In addition to our Blues tunes, we are both inspired to write what we call our Artist Activist Series songs… tunes that focus on social and political subjects such as gay rights, PTSD, Immigracism…(our term), and freedom of speech.
Tell us a little bit about the musicians that are on the record.
The record is mostly me on vocals, keys and harmonica with a number of tracks utilizing drum and bass plug-ins. I did enlist a lot of guitar help from Bob Baglione, Alex Smith, Dave Steffen, and Zoey Witz. Real drums on some of the tracks provided by Jack Skalon. I also had the good fortune to have a few blues legends help out. Howlin’ Wolf’s sax player and band leader, Eddie Shaw, sang a duet with me on THE WOLF WILL HOWL AGAIN. Muddy Waters’ longtime guitarist, Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, played some mean slide on EYES OF MISSISSIPPI. And Chicago harmonica legend, Billy Branch, wailed on BACK IN THE GAME.
Anything else you want to add regarding your new release or other things you are up to?
Hoping to get a little more of a presence and love in our hometown with my hot new original music band, Derrick Procell & the Redeemers. We do most of the music from the record as well and a bunch of soulful original tunes.
I’m also working on a new concept for a tribute show. It’s a little too early to crow about it, but it’s very exciting and will be a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
And, of course, I’m looking forward to bringing the party to life as the leader of Chicago Groove Collective this coming wedding season.
Interested in having Derrick Procell and Chicago Groove Collective perform at your wedding or event? Let us know! And keep up with Derrick Procell at his website to get his record or know when to catch him perform live in Chicago.
This week’s releases came in full swing into the Pop world and the spotlight is shining right on the ladies of the pop industry.
Icona Pop has released another catchy single “Heart in the Air.” Still no record yet though, but I would expect it soon since they’re last full length was released in 2013 and they’re starting to push out new singles.
Tove Lo released a new album as well, only a year after her last release.
Jessie J preaches in her new song “Queen.”
Newcomer to the scene Maggie Lindemann gained notoriety for her single “Knocking on Your Heart” in 2015, and has released a few singles since then. Last week, she released “Obsessed,” a great radio tune that you’ll be hearing a lot of. Maybe this means she’s finally going to release an album soon? Great week in the pop music world. You go, ladies!
Getting in the festive holiday spirit this week as we start to plan music for upcoming holiday parties. We just had our first snowfall of the Chicago winter season and we’re gearing up to bring warmth and joy to all of your holiday celebrations!
How are you getting into the holiday spirit? Maybe you’re planning a holiday party at work or hosting your closest friends and family for in your home. Looking for a few party ideas? Here is some inspiration to put together the perfect holiday gathering with quality entertainment.
It may be cold outside, but baby a snowy explosion of white can be magical and modern affair! Hire a mixologist to craft some frosty cocktails, add elegance to the decor with glittery linens, and select entertainment to perform all the wintery classics. An a cappella group or a jazz trio is a lively way to channel all of the legendary holiday tunes. The group Pentatonix has brought holiday classics into the modern era with their pop, a cappella twist. A great rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” will bring back great memories.
Transport yourself back to the roaring 20s with all the glitz and glamour, perfect for any holiday event! During this era of social change and prohibition, “jazz bands played at dance halls like the Savoy in New York City and the Aragon in Chicago”. Hiring a great jazz group would compliment this theme and have the perfect mix of upbeat and background music to set the mood for the evening. (source: http://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties). Adding a few pieces to the band and you can expand the repertoire to all eras for dancing.
Who is that alluring person behind that mask? This theme creates a formal and classical affair that your guests can have a lot of fun with. A live dance orchestra with strings can elevate your event to the next level. A string quartet is another option if you’re having a smaller party and don’t need a full band. It’s also an excellent choice for cocktails and dinner before dancing starts and you waltz the night away or get down to the latest Bruno Mars hit!
Draw inspiration for your party theme from classic holiday movies. You can bring back childhood nostalgia with the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Book a children’s choir to play into your guests’ youthful spirit. They can perform a special show or accompany a live band or DJ to provide entertainment that your guests will love and cherish.
No scrooges here! A Christmas Carol theme can bring all your holiday traditions to life. Deck the halls, bake some cookies, and serve up delicious egg nog. You can book an a cappella caroling group with authentic period costumes to pull together this classic holiday theme. The carolers can go around to different areas of the party, serenading your guests and encouraging them to join in on the caroling fun.
Looking for something that is goofy and fun for your holiday party? Sing holiday tunes or just some of your favorite songs! Karaoke can either be done with a DJ or all out with a full live band karaoke experience! Invite your guests up to sing accompanied by live musicians and they can provide great encouragement for guests to get up there and sing their hearts out! In between your friends belting “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, a live band can provide entertainment to pack a dance floor.
Contact us if you are interested in any of these options for your holiday party!
Happy Monday! We apologize for the gap in our posts recently but we are back and ready to begin sharing exciting stuff with you again! On a similar note, my name is Emily and I’m the new planning and operations coordinator here. I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management. I’ve always had a passion for music so because of this, I’m thrilled to share different musical happenings each week that I find interesting.
We’ve had an exciting variety of record releases in the past couple of weeks. An impressive release came from 12-year-old Grace VanderWaal, who won America’s Got Talent. See her videos here. She’s definitely worth checking out and will be performing at The Park West this Wednesday, November 15. Taylor Swift also partially released her album last week. She’s not going to release it to streaming services until next week, but you can purchase it now if you just can’t wait at her online store. Interesting (smart?) approach to releasing an album. She did sell 700,000 albums already when I wrote this post and it’s expected to increase from there. So I’d say it’s a pretty genius move on her part. What do you think?