Spotlight Series: Birds of Chicago


This Saturday, June 16 at 7PM, critically acclaimed outfit Birds of Chicago are taking the stage at the Levitt AMP Santa Fe Music Series for a free performance! Inspired by the expansive tapestry of Americana music, spanning blues, roots rock and gospel, this husband-and-wife duo’s uplifting energy has caught the attention of music publications, global charts and international music-lovers alike. Since their humble beginnings in 2012, Birds of Chicago have evolved into one of the most talked-about presences in modern folk music––this is one rousing performance Levitteers in Santa Fe simply can’t miss! Be sure to RSVP for this free concert today and read on to learn more about this high-spirited duo.

The band’s leading vocal and songwriting forces, JT Nero and Allison Russell, met each other through mutual acquaintances in the music scene in 2008. Despite Russell and Nero already being active musicians in their own projects––the jazz-inflected jam group Po’ Girl and soulful rock band JT and The Clouds––the two found time to discover a special chemistry they shared as songwriters and performers through intermittent jam sessions and side-by-side performances on stage. Co-headlined tours with Po’ Girl and JT and The Clouds eventually resulted in the two solidifying their musical––and personal––bond in 2012, when they decided to launch a collaborative musical career with Chicago as their homebase and getting married the year after.

With years of experience and a growing fanbase already under their belt, Birds of Chicago was able to hit the ground running with a Kickstarter campaign-funded debut album. Sweet and lilting, the album put Nero and Russell’s golden harmonies front-and-center over a textured collection of folk instrumentals. The album was followed by extensive national touring and festival gigs, as well as Nero and Russell’s first child in 2013. Inspired by their initial successes, the band actually toured until Russell was 40 weeks pregnant, and hit the road once again after their daughter, Ida Maeve, was just four weeks old. “This is our normal,” said Russell, in an interview with Chicago Tribune. “We’re very committed to building a life as a travelling family. The three of us are always together, and we have an amazing team.” The husband-and-wife duo have found kindred spirits as young parents in the Americana music community, and their arrangement as a nomadic, familial musical endeavor makes them all the more unique in the music industry.

Their second album, “Real Midnight,” released in 2016, garnered widespread acclaim from the moment the first eponymous single hit listeners’ ears. Paste Magazine described the duo as an “Americana gospel dream team,” while NPR Music showered their “secular gospel” with praise, describing Birds of Chicago shows as “a way to fully live with the awareness that nothing’s forever and everything’s at stake.” Rightly so, the combination of haunting dirges, (“Barley”) stately ballads (“Kinderspel”) and buoyant rock songs (“Estrella Goodbye”) showcased a mature Birds of Chicago coming into its own. The album was subsequently placed on NPR Folk Alley’s “10 Favorite Albums of 2016,” and it secured the number one spot on the Euro-Americana charts during the entire month of March in 2016.

Fresh off of another album release in May, titled “Love in Wartime,” Birds of Chicago continue to be an unstoppable force in Americana, crafting songs about resilience, relationships and everything in between. The enduring message, throughout Birds of Chicago’s illustrious career and musical output, is to keep an undying faith in the goodness of the world. “We’re on the road 180-200 days of the year…we have received so much kindness from strangers from all backgrounds, walks of life and belief systems,” remarked the band, in an interview with The Bluegrass Situation in 2017. “The majority of the world is kind, and (our career) is a reminder to us, literally daily, that this is true.” Santa Fe, make sure you head over to the Santa Fe Railyard this Saturday to join in on the infectious optimism and vivacious Americana music of Birds of Chicago!

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