The Leland Bluebird Sessions produced by Steve Warrenfeltz and Scott Tipping and recorded by Sky Club Records has gotten some high praise recently from the Chicago Blues Guide. Describing the recordings variously as “reverent and authentic” – “a roadhouse tour de force” – “sonic explosions of deep beats and heavy guitar riffing”, Mark Baier is highly complementary of this labor of love.
Featuring sixteen of the famous, but unsung, recordings that were produced from the Leland Tower in downtown Aurora in the late ‘30’s, the Leland Bluebird Sessions recording was thoughtfully planned and produced to honor the originals while updating them in various ways to suit the artists who performed them with the same respect for the original compositions.
“Trying to tell the story of the Leland Hotel’s important connection with blues musical history is difficult to do with one 16-track CD, but Warrenfeltz and Tipping have done a remarkable job honoring the legacy of the Bluebird recordings and recreating the spirit and feel of the original sessions”,
says Baier, who understands exactly what these men were trying to accomplish.
The originals were recorded “with minimal edits or embellishments”, many of them being recorded in a single take. The Leland Bluebird Sessions recording was produced in similar spirit with the enthusiasm of polished professionals who enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of the uncharacteristically minimalistic production. That fresh spirit bleeds through the modern renditions of those time worn songs, breathing new life into them, while simultaneously preserving their authenticity.
Baier rightfully describes the production a “fascinating and ultimately important musical document”. That is exactly the aim of the project. The recordings capture the historical essence of the originals, with care and deference, while giving them a modern polish. As if to underscore this point, Baier attributes pride from Buff the Bluebird, the Bluebird mascot, for “the proper historical regard and respect” reflected in the Leland Bluebird Sessions.
Baier also accurately states that the Leland Bluebird project is “just getting started”. The Leland artists made an inaugural appearance at the 20th anniversary of Blues on the Fox last year. Leland did a reprise of the Leland Bluebird Session recordings at the Copley Theater in Aurora in February of 2017. And they aren’t done yet!
A Leland Bluebird Sessions II is in the discussion stage now, and the Leland group will continue their “tour” featuring the Ladies of Leland at Blues (and Roots) on Water Street in Batavia, IL on June 10, 2017, sponsored by the Fox Valley Music Foundation, Water Street Studios and Batavia Main Street.
The musical lineup includes a total of six (6) acts on two stages with lots of room in between for hanging out, art viewing, good conversation, food from River Edge Bar & Grill, beer from Solemn Oath Brewery, Wine from Bright Angel and special Blues on Water Street cocktails combining aged bourbon from Whiskey Acres and handcrafted concoctions from Windmill Ginger Brew that you won’t want to miss.