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THE SOUND

June 21, 2012
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Dan Tedesco: big sound, solo act

By Chad Taylor
soundcheck@dmcityview.com

Dan 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 alone.”

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 own.

“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,” he said.

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 it live.

“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



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