Brother John
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Brother John

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At heart, Brother John is a band that likes to rock. Hard.

And when they play, band members like nothing more than looking out over a huge crowd that's clearly feeling the music.

Of course, as musicians, they love knowing the fans are enjoying what they do. As budding philanthropists, they love knowing that each fan represents a little more money they can donate to a good cause.

Brother John, based in Wood Dale, performs original rock on concert bills in venues in the West and Northwest suburbs. They don't promote their shows as benefits or charity efforts.

But rather than pocketing their pay for the performance, band members take turns choosing a charity to receive the funds. One show benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; the next, Upendo Village, a Wheaton-based group that offers services for families with AIDS/HIV in Kenya.

Band members still are deciding what organization will benefit from their next performance, Friday, Nov. 27, but they do know a larger crowd means a larger donation.

Singer Brad Reamer (technically, John Bradford Reamer) tells us more about the band, its music and its mission.

Q. Tell us about the band's name.

A. We are a rock band named Brother John. The name is simply derived from the founding members, John Menich and I, who have been playing in bands together for more than 20 years. Our music is original and influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Cream.

Q. What is your mission?

A. Our root mission is to make great music, interpret the great music others have composed and put on a (great) show. We are fortunate to be in a position to take the financial rewards for our passion and share them with those in need.

Q. How does your work help others?

A. What we do does not feel like work at all. It is our passion. We are musicians, and you can't ever feel like it's work if you love music.

It feels great to share our music with our fans, and even better to pass the proceeds along. Each band member takes a turn dedicating the proceeds from a show to a charity of his choosing.

Q. When and how did the band start? How has it changed?

A. Brother John is four guys who came together over their need to play music. It was as simple and organic as that. We have each been in many groups over the years, though Menich and I have been together in musical exclusivity since 1988. Now we play with Gary Kouba and Scott Unger.

We just have come to a point in our lives that we can be altruistic in our musical endeavors. We are really not doing this for charity. The action of our charity is the responsible thing to do at this juncture. It's a humble approach, but one that, if you'll pardon the pun, struck a chord with the community.

Q. What kind of success have you had?

A. There are successes on so many levels. Musically, every show is a winner. We love to play live and interact with the people there to see us, as well as win over new fans.

The sweetest thing, though, is to receive a letter of appreciation from the people who receive our donations. We can't thank our fans enough for their support of us, because there are so many more winners down the line.

Q. What challenges do you face?

A. We just wish we had more opportunity to play. The local live music scene is geared for cover bands that play strictly tribute acts or novelty things like '70s- or '80s-themed shows. We are throwbacks. We write our own music and play hard.

Q. What do you wish the community at large knew about Brother John?

A. How much fun we have doing what we do. We have been playing for years and this is the most freedom any of us have felt. It's the freedom that comes with years and knowing that others will feel the benefit of our love of music without necessarily hearing a note of it.

Q. How can readers get involved?

A. Visit our Web site, brotherjohn.us, and come to a show.
- Daily Herald


Discography

Rust - To be released in early 2010

Photos

Bio

Chicago has a long history of spawning dark, edgy music and Brother John is no exception. Drawing inspiration from their surroundings, Chicago's Brother John connects the dots between late 60's English blues, early 70's hard rock, Middle-Eastern music, 80’s dissonance/avant-noise, and 90's grunge to form an unforgettable sound that is forward looking yet nods to the past; paying homage to some of the early architects of rock. On top of all of that, Brother John donates 100% of the band’s profits to charity.

Brother John began more than a decade ago when guitarist John Menich heard Brad Reamer (Brad’s first name is actually John) sing at a party. John was immediately impressed with the authority and ferocity with which Reamer sang. From that moment forward they have worked together in musical exclusivity to forge their vision of what truly great hard rock music should sound like.

Drummer Gary Kouba and bassist Scott Unger, though recent additions to the band, have melded together to create a powerful yet tactile rhythm section that always pushes the music forward. Possessing the ability to pound a rhythm mercilessly and then fall back to add dynamics and emotive sensibility to a song, comes from Kouba’s early years spent driving large horn-based bands and Unger’s time spent in the trenches with local pop and funk bands.

Brother John plays original as well as interpretations of songs from some of the bands that have influenced us over the years, including: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Soundgarden, STP, Cream, and Pearl Jam.