Tedesco plays the Gas Lamp on Saturday,
June 23 at 9 p.m. $7.
Even for his long-time fans, listening to one
of Dan Tedesco’s albums and seeing the man live
are two wildly different experiences. Hailing
himself as “folk rock on steroids,” the Chicago
native’s studio albums are more traditional
— in execution, if not in sound.
“I’ve had as big as a nine piece band behind
me (for the albums),” he said in a phone interview
from the road. “I’ve had horns and a full rhythm
section, electric guitars and bass.”
But on tour is where Tedesco’s sound changes.
While he has toured as part of a band in the
past, he’s grown increasingly in favor of solo
shows. The result is an experience that is completely
stripped down, yet higher in energy.
“There’s a lot more crowd interaction,” he said.
“I feel like it’s a lot more fun being up there
The evolution from fronting a band to going
it alone was an organic one for Tedesco. But
while he may have originally written his songs
to be played with a band, it wasn’t difficult
for him to be happy with how they sound on his
“A really well-written song should sound just
fine with one person. There shouldn’t be much
you have to do with it,” he said. “I’m not trying
to make myself out to be this amazing songwriter
or anything, but I really feel like my songs
do that well.”
In an effort to keep his shows as close to his
folk rock roots as possible, Tedesco eschews
most of the aids that many solo acts incorporate
today, like looping stations and backing tracks.
“Everything that I do on stage is just me,”
he said. “Looping things kind of locks you into
one course of action. My shows are about the
interactive experience of seeing someone make
music in real time.”
And that is really the crux of Tedesco’s live
performances. He doesn’t believe that a show
should be a passive affair. Throughout his concerts,
Tedesco feeds off his crowd and they off him,
and individual songs can often become raucous,
stomping, high-energy affairs. That he accomplishes
all of this without a backing band, pre-recorded
rhythm sections or looping tracks is impressive.
But Tedesco still gets creative with his sound.
He’s never been content to be the contemplative
folk voice, sitting on a stool under a spotlight,
playing a full set of acoustic hooks. He wants
to give an audience a bigger experience.
“On some of the songs, I’ll run my guitar through
a guitar amp and a bass amp at the same time
to give the song a fuller, more complex sound,”
But for as much as Tedesco enjoys the sound
of his live solo shows, he’s equally confident
that he wants to keep that experience purely
a live one. For him, tracks with a full band
work better for his albums, exactly because
his audience isn’t sitting in the room with
him, ready to vicariously experience the passion
he has for his work. The larger band sound helps
create the mood, while his live shows need no
such help. Alternately, listeners unable to
experience Tedesco firsthand might not have
the same visceral reaction to a solo track on
a CD that they would sitting in a bar watching
“For the next album I do, I’ve thought about
possibly adding one or two tracks that are solo
and more acoustic, but I don’t think I’d do
a whole album like that,” he said. “I don’t
think it would hold people’s attention in quite
the same way.” CV