It was a scorching Chicago summer in 2006 when long-time friends Josh Solomon, Danny Rosenthal and Nate Bellon officially became a band. After recording their first original demo, the boys starred in a 2007 theatrical production of the Buddy Holly Story which served as a showcase for the new group. The band attracted the attention of local morning show personality Scott Mackay (WLS-FM) and the show’s success lead to a tribute album and critical acclaim in print, along with television and radio appearances. Playing as Buddy Holly and the Crickets each night was a rock and roll roots education that left an indelible mark on The Empty Pockets’ music, focusing their sound on driving rockabilly grooves thick with rhythm and blues, and thoughtful melodies and harmonies in classic pop song structures.
With the Buddy Holly buzz, the boys went back in the studio to complete an album of their original music. They released "Under the Bed" using early band name, “Josh & the Empty Pockets,” at the beginning of 2008 – a fun, multifaceted album so full of catchy refrains that Nickelodeon licensed the album in it‘s entirety for the shows; iCarly, Zoey101 and Drake & Josh. Produced by industry veteran Rick Fritz (Brian Wilson, John Mellencamp), the single “Fall Right Now” tells the story of a young romance that almost too eagerly becomes true love.
Josh’s muse for “Fall Right Now,” Erika Brett, was soon asked to join the band and the new foursome, now simply “The Empty Pockets,” headed into another studio session, this time for a holiday duet. While on their first tour, The Empty Pockets' single, "Baby It's Cold Outside” – a spirited mash-up of two holiday classics – hit radio with airplay on over a hundred markets nationwide peaking at #25 on the Medibase AC Chart. The band toured extensively, including a showcase at SXSW, piquing the interest of legendary manager David Spero (Joe Walsh, Cat Stevens, Dickey Betts) who added the band to his roster in late 2009.
In 2010, The Empty Pockets had a breakout year, sharing the stage with Jennifer Hudson and Buffalo Springfield’s Richie Furay and headlining historic venues like the House of Blues Chicago and Millennium Park. Their song, “Take Me,” about the conflict in Afghanistan was featured in award-winning documentary, “Patrol Base Jaker.” Energized by these performances, the band toured relentlessly through 2012, opening for comedian George Lopez and artists like Dickey Betts, Dave Mason, and Kansas, sharing the bill with stars like Jason Mraz, Jimmy Cliff, and FUN, all while recording and releasing two EP’s: “Introducing The Empty Pockets” and “A Holiday Staycation,” both of which received substatial national airplay on Triple-A and Hot AC radio stations.
Currently in the studio working on a full-length album for 2013, The Empty Pockets pride themselves on delivering handcrafted rock and roll. Their music is devoid of sequencing, auto-tune or digital pollution in favor of rich, analog sounds and skillful musicianship true to the band’s performance onstage. Catch the band as they travel the country in their van, The Pocket Rocket, in support of their latest release.
Josh Solomon - Vocals, Guitar
Erika Brett - Vocals, Rhoades
Danny Rosenthal - Vocals, Drums
Nate Bellon - Vocals, Bass
Introducing The Empty Pockets
(received significant airplay on Triple-A Radio)
-All I Need
-Fall Right Now
A Holiday Staycation with The Empty Pockets
(received significant airplay on Hot AC + AC Radio)
-Baby It's Cold Outside (#25 Christmas Chart, 2010)
-Holly Jolly Christmas
-What Christmas Means To Me
-Run, Run Rudolph
Concert Review: The Empty Pockets at Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph 10/4/12
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Some bands are meant for Friday night. Every night is Friday night for The Empty Pockets from Chicag...Some bands are meant for Friday night. Every night is Friday night for The Empty Pockets from Chicago, Illinois. Their high energy fun music just doesn’t seem to fit on a weekday. Nevertheless the band hit the best venue Northwest Missouri on a Thursday night to see if they could bring the Friday night vibe on a school night.
It is always exciting when out-of-towners swing through St. Joseph. The local music (even though it is quite good right now) can become stale and it is refreshing to hear a new voice and sound roll through. The Empty Pockets brought a good time energy that isn’t all that common and would make for a great Thursday night experiment.
The band is very pop-rock radio friendly. Their vocals are right on top of the music and easy to hear (which is nice for a change.) They have a very listener friendly sound with a female vocalist in Erika Brett paired with most-of-the-time lead singer Joshua Solomon. The bass player would take the lead on the occasional song (usually a old standard cover song) but would deliver a booming voice to do the songs justice. Brett’s lead vocals were added to the band after their formation and it was very apparent live which songs where written after her addition.
Erika Brett is the classic story of a singer who learned how to sing then joined a band. It is always a bit of a fresh sound when this happens, this sequence of events usually avoids a vocalist just trying to shout over the band. The hip-slapping Brett could belt out great vocals but it was still obvious that the driving force of the band was Joshua Solomon on vocals and lead guitar. He has the voice of a less-whiney Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty and writes great little catchy pop songs. The music of The Empty Pockets has the vibe of The Barenaked Ladies. It is light, catchy and fun which is not an easy sound to pull off.
They would take the stage and blast into an energetic mix of mostly original songs and some carefully chosen covers to bring familiarity to the young band’s set. The most impressive cover delivered on the evening was an appropriate version of Etta James’ “At Last.” The band would also deliver standards like “Mustang Sally” and “Sweet Home Chicago” and make them much less their own than they did the James classic.
As far as the band’s strengths go, it is clearly their original songs. They have a stellar group of songs highlighted by the 98 degrees-referencing “Fall Right Now” and the strongest song of the evening in St. Joseph “All I Need.” They even displayed their soft-touch for music with the slowed down tune ” You’re The One.” The music of the band is very PG rated but is great for a good-time feeling night of music. The group’s influences are all over the map bluesy sounding songs during the second half of the set and many reggae sounding guitar songs filling the initial set. The talent of the band in undeniable, the solid drumming and bass works as the mortar for the guitar and vocals of the band, holding the whole thing together. Brett’s vocals are instantly noticeable and the songwriting and guitar playing of Solomon are both solid. The band has potential to do a lot, it will be interesting to see how far they go.
Nerdy, Quirky Fun
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By Shea Conner | St. Joe Live The Empty Pockets might have a seemingly pessimistic name, but this...By Shea Conner | St. Joe Live
The Empty Pockets might have a seemingly pessimistic name, but this four-piece definitely has a “glass half full” mentality.
Whether they’re singing about love lost, love found, politics or, um, Nick Lachey from 98 Degrees, the pop rock band’s musical vibe always remains upbeat and uplifting.
“We’re sort of a wholesome group, I guess,” laughs vocalist Erika Brett. “We’re nerds. We want to be quirky and fun.”
“We’re not big party-ers, but we start a party,” adds bassist Nate Bellon.
It might not be a party per se, but The Empty Pockets certainly will get some toes tapping when they perform at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Cafe Acoustic.
“Infectious” is the best word to describe this band that hails from Chicago. From lead singer/guitarist Josh Solomon’s clear and clever lyrics to the Bellon and drummer Danny Rosenthal’s soulful rockabilly grooves, The Empty Pockets have won over lots of crowds with catchy but simple pop numbers. Solomon says the group follows the musical ideology of one its heroes: Buddy Holly.
“He proved that music doesn’t need to be complicated to be awesome,” Solomon says. “It’s amazing what he did that with three chords and a few lyrics.”
It’s no coincidence that all four of them take after the father of rock ‘n’ roll. Solomon, Bellon and Rosenthal grew up in the Chicago area playing music, and shortly after forming a band in 2006, Solomon was cast as Buddy Holly in the 2007 production of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Chicago’s Mercury Theatre. Bellon and Rosenthal were cast as The Crickets in the show. During the run, the band met Brett — who was a singer and dancer in the show — and the rest is history.
Members of the Empty Pockets started playing their own music in 2008. In that year, the quartet released its debut album “Under the Bed” as well as the Christmas single “Baby It’s Cold Outside/Baby Please Come Home.” From those two recordings, the band’s success has snowballed slowly in the past four years.
The Christmas single not only became the No. 1 requested song at four major radio stations in 2009, but it also reached No. 31 on the Mediabase Christmas Charts. Later that year, the folks at Nickelodeon got a hold of “Under the Bed” and decided to use all 10 of its tracks in various shows including “iCarly,” “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101.” Although the band’s appearance on Nick programming didn’t give them a whole lot of new fans, the band says it opened a lot of doors for them.
“It basically gave us a stamp of legitimacy,” Bellon says.
By 2010, The Empty Pockets were sharing the stage with Jennifer Hudson, Portugal. the Man, Buffalo Springfield’s Richie Furay and headlining historic venues like the House of Blues Chicago, Schubas and Millennium Park. Since then, the group has had a showcase at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and they’ve opened for Dispatch and Latino stand-up comedy icon George Lopez. That was just last week, as a matter of fact.
While some of those may seem like odd opening act slots, The Empty Pockets felt like a pea in a pod with Jason Mraz last year. The band’s fun, handcrafted tongue-in-cheek set fits right in with the Mrazes, Gavin DeGraws, Adam Levines, Eric Hutchinsons and Barenaked Ladies of the world. Solomon says the group tries to focus on recording authentic tracks that can always be replicated in a live setting. Overproduction is something The Empty Pockets try to avoid.
“Dan, Josh and I came up jamming together and we didn’t really have access to all the electronic stuff and all those cool toys. And we never needed them,” Bellon says. “It’s not imperative that you use all the blades and knives. Just use the one to cut the fruit with.”
In November, the band will release a Christmas EP called “A Holiday Staycation” — which will include seasonal covers like “Run Run Rudolph” and “Holly Jolly Christmas” as well as a holiday original called “Snow Shoes” — and the four of them plan to release a new full-length album in 2013.
By this time next year, their pockets might not be so empty.
Live Show Review Makepeace Brothers @ Belly Up Tavern
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The Sunset Sessions, an annual music-business event held in San Diego since 2007, that has launched ...The Sunset Sessions, an annual music-business event held in San Diego since 2007, that has launched careers including those of Jack Johnson, Ryan Adams, Five for Fighting, Pete Yorn, and Jason Mraz, celebrated their fifteen years this past week from Feb. 16-19. Monday night at the Belly Up was the Sunset Sessions’ after party, officially titled, Sunset Sessions New Music Adventure. Headlining the event were the Makepeace Brothers, an enthusiastic brotherly ensemble from Venice Beach, CA.
But before we could get to the heart of the night, the opening acts for the Sunset Sessions New Music Adventure that ranged from over-the-top colorful acts to more melodious and melancholy performances, created quite a stirring affair for what was initially supposed to be a mellow Monday evening of music. Getting a mixture of sounds and styles from performers who’s already graced the stage at the Rancho Bernardo Inn the past weekend, those of us who could not attend the Sunset Sessions at the RB Inn got to sample material from the rising musical acts currently being endorsed by the people behind Sunset Sessions.
The Chicago-based band, The Empty Pockets opened up their set right off the bat on a Bossa Nova note, a flashy and loud rendition that showed those congregating farther from the stage that they were in for a surprise. Because when The Empty Pockets play, they don’t just go through the motions of belting out tunes and revving their guitars to impress you – their performances are offset with a vibrancy and a sort of energetic showmanship so that space and distance don’t matter in the end – rather it’s more of which of their carefully crafted songs will strike a chord within you first. And only once the audience got the groove of this did things really pick up for The Empty Pockets.
Toe-tapping and head-bouncing to the time of the witty pop songs that were catchy and at times interwoven with a 50’s retro feel, The Empty Pockets were doing a fantastic job of warming up the crowd to an anticipated night of great music. Slowing to a lovey groove and then to a bluesy-swaying rock rendition, the songs played that night went from classic pop-rock to doo-wop influences in a matter of seconds, so that by the time their set ended, The Empty Pockets left in the wake of the crowd a trail of music aficionados.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.