Jam-band plays Blue Moose


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The musicians in Cornmeal, a Chicago-based jam band, take risks. The nature of their playing style makes every show an entirely different performance.

And their fans come out in droves for them.

"[Improvising] can hit or miss; we feed off the energy of the environment," said bassist Chris Gangi. "We take risks. And when the risk turns out to be a good move, the benefits are exponential; a good show becomes a great show. And our improvisation keeps our fans excited and interested in what we are doing."

The show will begin 9 p.m. Friday at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave. Admission is $12 today, $14 on the day of the show.

Cornmeal works to provide the best atmosphere at its live shows, because the members understand that their fans come for different reasons.

"We want people to be comfortable when they are coming in," Gangi said. "People go to our shows for different reasons: relief, entertainment, so many things. We always like to keep it nice and open, loose and comfortable, so they can express themselves anyway they want to."

The band has played at countless large music festivals, such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Wakarusa Music Festival, and their home state's Summer Camp Music Festival. But the band members relish the opportunity to play at smaller venues so they can more easily connect with the audiences.

"Some of our fans would much rather see us in a smaller venue," Gangi said. "They can feel the passion, and the heat, and the intensity coming off the stage, and they can interact with the band, and we interact with them."

At Cornmeal shows, there is undoubtedly passion coming off the stage. Banjo player and vocalist Dave Burlingame said that during sound checks, the band rehearses all the songs they plan on playing that night so they can deliver a polished product.

"We want to flip everyone into a frenzy at all times," he said. "Energy during a live show is circular. When the audience is into it, we see that, and it gives us a lot more energy."

One of the many reasons crowds are drawn to Cornmeal is the improvisational style of its music. During the shows, the band plays songs from the albums but expand on them with long jams.

The studio albums also keep the fans interested. The band has released three albums, with the last one coming in 2006.

"I am in the process of editing our new album right now," Gangi said. "Our first one in five years, it's long overdue. Being on the road as often as we are, it is hard to give studio albums the time and patience they need. But it's getting real close."

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