Forest Park musicians Mike and Katie Redmond are ready to give their six-piece band another shot.
The Redmonds originally got together six years ago, but the time and personnel weren’t right for the music the former guitarist of the band Off Broadway wants to create, which he calls “country rock revival.”
“We’ve finally got the sound we want and we have our great band members [Chicago pedal steel player] Rich Koc and [multi-instrumentalist] L.J. Slavin,” Mike Redmond said.
After opening for REO Speedwagon on a nostalgia tour recently, the band performs in its newest incarnation on April 18 at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.
Redmond had a brief flirtation with Nashville when he was signed to a “development deal” with Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records at age 24.
“I worked with [producer and Stax guitarist] Steve Cropper,” he said. “He is the nicest person you’ll ever meet. All the people in the South are so polite.”
Politeness in the music industry is not something Redmond was intimately familiar with while playing guitar for 12 years around Chicago and the Midwest with quirky, moody performers in Off Broadway.
Redmond married Katie, from Brookfield, in 2005. She’s a classically trained singer who performs at corporate events and belts out a mean National Anthem.
The duo bought a house in Forest Park, and two daughters came along.
Then they started singing as a duo for pocket money, earning extra cash at Off Broadway Pub in Brookfield, as well as the New Grand Tavern, Harold’s Hideaway, Joe’s Saloon and “up and down Madison Street in Forest Park,” Katie Redmond said.
But with the addition of bassist Mike Gorman of Off Broadway/Pezband and drummer Rick Nelson, the Redmonds felt they could really produce the country rock sound they were looking for.
“All of a sudden it doesn’t suck any more. It sounds great,” Mike said.
And now they’re ready to take it to the crowds at FitzGerald’s.
“Usually you have to play 70 percent covers and then throw in an original and see how it flies,” he said. “When we opened for REO Speedwagon it was in the contract: All originals.”
“We had to dig deep for songs. We were pulling stuff out of the hamper and smelling it and thinking, ‘Nope, you can’t wear that.'”
But slipping originals into the set is gratifying. “We’re getting huge reactions from our originals from the crowd,” he said. He hopes the FitzGerald’s crowd will also be more interested in their newer material.
He thinks Nashville is hearing what he’s trying to create, too, as the new more rock-pop-influenced country music emerges from Music City. Much of it is produced by Redmond’s hero and dream producer T. Bone Burnett.
“The stuff that’s coming out now — the Lone Bellow, the Civil Wars, the Lumineers — it’s more powerful and has more rock influences and it calls up emotions out of people who respond to it,” he said.