The Claudettes Go Out! Sultry, Cinematic Noir-Pop From Chicago - New Album + Tour Dates Announced
By Pati deVries
What's the opposite of locking down, staying in, and yet another mildly satisfying TV night? That would be "going out," precisely what The Claudettes passionately prescribe with their rich, diverse, riveting new album, The Claudettes Go Out! Due out on October 14, 2022, via Forty Below Records.
Wielding a one-of-a-kind, piano-powered roots-pop sound, The Claudettes merge earthy blues and soul with pop hooks and punk spirit, writing an intriguing new chapter in American roots music. Pianist/songwriter Johnny Iguana first gained renown as pianist for blues giant Junior Wells and as co-founder of punk-organ band Oh My God. Johnny has toured or recorded with Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Johnny Winter, Derek Trucks, Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, James Cotton, and more. He has played on three Grammy-nominated albums and earned a 2021 Blues Music Award nomination for Piano Player of the Year. Johnny co-founded The Claudettes with drummer Michael Caskey (Chuck Mangione, Koko Taylor). Caskey is a Downbeat Magazine award winner and a five-time Detroit Music Awards recipient. Michael had previously toured with Johnny's band Oh My God, as had Claudettes bassist/singer Zach Verdoorn. After hearing Berit Ulseth sing in a Chicago country band, Johnny asked her to join The Claudettes in 2016. Ulseth studied jazz vocal instruction at NYC's New School and has sung on three of the band's albums and an EP.
The band completed two sessions for the new album. The first session was recorded and co-produced in Chicago by recent Grammy nominee Anthony Gravino (Kurt Elling, Charlie Hunter) and mixed in NYC by Grammy-winning legend Kevin Killen (David Bowie, U2, Elvis Costello). The second session, in Chicago, was helmed by Grammy-winning producer Ted Hutt (Violent Femmes, Old Crow Medicine Show) and mixed in LA by Hutt and Ryan Mall.
Though the song "Park Bench" features string charts by Jim Cooper, violin and viola by Andra Kulans, cello by Nora Barton, and acoustic guitar by Anthony Gravino, all the rest of The Claudettes Go Out! was performed by the four band members. The album opens with "A Lovely View," a haunting, hallucinatory slice of post-punk soul, before unveiling profoundly heartfelt and sharply sardonic songs. "The American Sky" begins as a bluesy '60s torch song à la Peggy Lee's version of "Fever" before morphing into string-laden Flaming Lips "Superman" territory. "The American Sky" finds the narrator so smitten with his political talking points that he sees them as majestic soaring eagles. Later, the breakneck-paced "Exposure" summons the spirits of everyone from The Who to Devo as the band laments the necessity of music-biz meetings when all they want to do is play.
Berit dazzles with her vocal on "Cowboy," one of the most honest, self-aware songs Johnny Iguana has written. As Zach lays down windswept country guitars (replaced later in the song by hot licks overtop Johnny's Billy Preston-level piano), Berit presents a narrator who "could see giving up music...but DRINKING?!" "It used to be about the drinking, man," insists the singer. "My doctor says I should watch it with the band."
The Claudettes Go Out! concludes with the breathtaking "The Show Must Go On (And Then the Show Must End)," a reminder that lives, marriages and bands are precious things we only have for a short while—so savor and treasure these while you have them. "Pandemics and viruses are boring," says Iguana. "We've had it with talking about it, staying home, staying isolated from each other. We did not embrace a move to the virtual. We wrote, and poured our hearts into this, and now we're touring like mad. We love being together, and we are going out. Listen to this album; it's the best thing we've done."
THE CLAUDETTES ON TOUR
Aug 4---Hartford, WI---Wischauer Arts Center
Aug 5---Madison, WI---The Bur Oak
Aug 6---Three Lakes, WI---Three Lakes Center for the Arts
Aug 26--Newport, KY---Southgate House Revival
Aug 27--Grand Rapids, MI---Tip Top Deluxe
Sep 14---Duluth, MN---West Theatre
Sep 15---Minneapolis, MN---Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge
Sep 16---Sioux Falls, SDI---CON Event Hall
Sep 17---Deadwood, SD---Deadwood Jam
Sep 18---Omaha, NE---Reverb Lounge
Sep 23---Peoria, IL---Kenny's Westside Pub
Sep 24---Rockford, IL---Mary's Place
Sep 30---Akron, OH---Jilly's Music Room
Oct 1-----Columbus, OH---Natalie's
Oct 7-----Chicago, IL---The Hideout
Oct 8-----Fond Du Lac, WI---Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts
Oct 14--- Cedar Rapids, IA---CSPS Hall
Oct 15--- Burlington, IA---The Washington
Oct 21----Ferndale, MI---Otus Supply
Oct 22----Flint, MI---Flint City Cider
Nov 5----Urbana, IL---The Rose Bowl
Nov 12---Indianapolis, IN---Shelton Auditorium, Butler Arts and Events Center
Nov 18---Three Oaks, MI---The Acorn
Dec 2-----Aurora, IL---The Venue
Dec 3-----Madison, WI---North St. Cabaret
Dec 9-----Berwyn, IL---Fitzgerald's
Dec 10----Appleton, WI---Gibson Community Music Hall