al scorch winter slumber poster

Al Scorch’s Winter Slumber

Have you ever seen a bluegrass band that includes cello? How about a French horn? If that concept catches your attention, you’ve got to check out the music of Al Scorch.

Al and his band played an afternoon gig last Sunday at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, a monthly winter series dubbed Al Scorch’s’ Winter Slumber. It’s free, it’s fun and if you’re in the area, highly recommended.

Scorch’s music is bluegrass at its core, but driven by the energy of punk and the courage to mess around and see what works. Scorch dubs his ensemble as “country soul,” and that works, too—these days it’s tough to classify music. The point is, there was a tone of soul and spirit driving the show we saw on Sunday.

The musicianship alone is stellar. Scorch drove the ship on banjo (he also plays guitar) and vocals, and he was accompanied during the first set by a drummer with a minimal setup and a standup bass player (their violinist, we were told, couldn’t make the show). The music was like a blast of fresh warm air that cut through the deep chill of a dreary Chicago February afternoon.

For the second set, the trio was joined by a cellist and a French horn player. Which at first seems odd, right? But it works. Beautifully.

Al Scorch's Winter Slumber at the Empty Bottle
Al Scorch’s Winter Slumber at the Empty Bottle (Kurt Wolff)

The Winter Slumber series continues one more times this season (2015), on March 8. See the poster below for more info, or check the websites of Al Scorch or the Empty Bottle.

al scorch winter slumber poster

One final video if you’ve scrolled down this far, an early demo of “City Lullaby”:

Al Scorch's Winter Slumber
Al Scorch’s Winter Slumber at the Empty Bottle (Kurt Wolff)