Chasing Shade
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Chasing Shade

Iowa City, Iowa, United States

Iowa City, Iowa, United States
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"Iowa City band ‘Chases Shade’ on sustainability tour across Iowa"

As an alternative to a conventional tour, the band Chasing Shade will embark today (7/22) on a tour coinciding with RAGBRAI). The band will be self-contained, transporting all of their instruments via bicycle trailers and generating sustainable power from active solar panels on their trailers. This tour will include impromptu shows during the ride in addition to nightly shows at overnight stops. The goal of the tour is to promote the harmony of cycling, music, and the environment.

Chasing Shade is an indie-beach-blues duo from Iowa City. Following the release of their debut album “pen to paper” they have toured extensively including two Colorado tours and a trip to Austin, Texas, during South by Southwest (SXSW).

Keep tabs on Elliott Beenk and bandmate and University of Iowa student Griffen Harris on their Facebook page.
- Cedar Rapids Gazette: Hoopla Now

"Sustainable bike tour Musicians will use solar panels to power shows during RAGBRAI"

Three RAGBRAI riders will be facing two additional challenges on their ride: performing as a band at stops and hauling all of their equipment with them. "Chasing Shade," will be riding with more than 300 pounds of equipment behind their bikes and using solar panels to fuel their sustainable bike tour across Iowa.

Griffen Harris, Elliott Beenk and Tim Cigrand comprise the Iowa City-based band. They will be using solar panels as their only source of power for their instruments along the way. They got the idea for the bike tour from the band "Blind Pilot," who gained their fame riding along the west coast and later opened for Dave Matthews. The support of the band's family and friends also encouraged them to participate in RAGBRAI.

Beenk, who works at the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, which is sponsoring their tour, said living sustainability is more important than awareness.

Article Photos

— Submitted photo
Chasing Shade will perform during RAGBRAI using solar power to fuel instruments. From left, Elliott Beenk, Griffen Harris and Tim Cigrand, performing in Chicago in June 2011.

"We kind of think about sustainability as a way of being rather than just doing RAGBRAI to promote it," Beenk said. "We want to live sustainably rather than just promoting the bare idea of sustainability."

Harris said that many people do not live in a sustainable manner and the best way to promote it is by example.

"There's going to have to be a change, and the way we're going to incorporate it is not by promoting sustainability, but by incorporating it into our everyday lives," Harris said.

"Chasing Shade" has taken part in other environmental efforts, including a composting and recycling program at the "Camp Euforia" music festival the past two years. Last year, more than 800 pounds of waste was composted.

This will be the first RAGBRAI for the band. Beenk jokingly compared their current situation to the film "Apollo 13" where the astronauts are running out of oxygen, handed duct tape and told to 'figure it out.' They have been training and fixing up their trailers, but ultimately said they will have to buck up and go for it.

They will be taking along a drum kit, a public address system, two guitars, a solar panel and batteries. Most of their shows will be impromptu during stops. However, they have shows planned in downtown Marshalltown. They will also be meeting with former San Diego Charger Tim Dwight, who co-owns a solar development company called Integrated Power Corporation and using his solar power setup to play in Cedar Rapids.

When they reach Webster City, the band will be playing sometime in the afternoon near downtown. Musicians such as Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket and Jack Johnson, among others, influence their indie-rock sound. Samples of the band's music can be found on their Facebook page. - Webster City's Freeman Journal

"Englert's song project has locals singing about Iowa City"

Chasing Shade

Although Elliot Beenk had not planned on heading to Iowa City or the University of Iowa, he and bandmate Griffen Harris are certainly glad he did.

The two men are members of local band Chasing Shade, which is featured on the album; it will perform at the Englert release show on Friday.

“I’m incredibly excited. It will be our first theater show,” Harris said. The band will play alongside the likes of Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps, Brooks Strause, and the Gory Details, to name a few.

“I’m very grateful that we got asked to do it,” Harris said, “We are honored to be on any part of that compilation.” - The Daily Iowan

"Press Citizen: Beenk, Harris promote environment, music on RAGBRAI"

July 26, 2012

By Josh O’Leary, Iowa City Press-Citizen

Move over, James Brown. After this week, there’s new competition for the the title of “the hardest working man in show business.”

Iowa City musicians Elliott Beenk and Griffen Harris are among the thousands of bicyclists making the week-long, 400-mile trek across the state on RAGBRAI, stopping to perform mostly impromptu shows along the route for their fellow riders.

And as if riding and jamming their way across Iowa wasn’t enough during this oven roaster of a week, the two first-time RAGBRAI riders are hauling hundreds of pounds of music equipment and camping gear on specially built bicycle trailers behind them and collecting sunlight with portable solar panels to power their shows.

The duo, a pair of environmental advocates and a self-described indie-beach-blues band playing under the moniker Chasing Shade — an apt band name given this week’s sweltering heat — say they are using the trip to promote the harmony of cycling, music and the environment.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is promoting the idea of sustainability and solar power, and promoting our music as well, through the whole RAGBRAI mentality of riding bikes, which is quite green in itself,” said Harris, a 22-year-old Dubuque native and recent University of Iowa graduate. “We’re trying to get people to realize that you can do something totally crazy, like pulling 150-pound trailers across the entire state, and still have fun with it.”

Beenk and Harris, who have been performing together for about a year and a half, were inspired by the folk-pop band Blind Pilot, who have made bicycle tours up and down the West Coast. The Iowa City musicians, who are both bicycling enthusiasts, cooked up the idea a couple months ago to do something similar for RAGBRAI, but first had to figure out a way to transport their gear and power their microphones and guitars.

“We just talked about it so much that it got to the point where we had to do it,” said Beenk, a 22-year-old UI senior and DeWitt native. “If we didn’t do it, people would be just like, ‘You guys are just blowing smoke.’”

They enlisted friends to help custom build the trailers, with the initial aim of harnessing pedal power for electricity, but they ultimately decided that a plank of solar panels stretching atop a trailer was the best way to charge batteries. They worked on their rigs up until the last minute — finally finishing late Friday night before heading out the door for western Iowa early Saturday.

“We both really like cycling,” Harris said. “Neither of us have done RAGBRAI before, so this is our first time. And we’ve never done another ride like this; we don’t do 80 miles a day. But I commute to work every day in Iowa City, and Elliott does the same thing to get to school. So we’re big bicyclists, but this is definitely a massive challenge and something we haven’t done.

“Our bodies are taking a hit for sure. But we’re making adjustments, taking breaks and taking it slow, and we’re plugging through, chugging along.”

Beenk and Harris have championed environmental causes throughout their college days. Beenk is an intern at UI’s Office of Sustainability, and Harris was a member of UI’s Environmental Coalition while in school. The two also worked together to establish a recycling and composting program at the annual Camp Euforia music festival near Lone Tree the past two summers.

The bandmates had worked out a few prearranged performances in tents and venues along the route ahead of time, but for the most part, they’ve been setting up in parks, among the vendors and anywhere else they can plug in and play on their stops. Harris, who says their brand of blues music has a West Coast. “feel good” vibe, sings lead and plays drums, while Beenk plays guitar and sings backup.

Out on the road and hauling trailers each loaded with about 150 pounds of equipment, they’re attracting plenty of attention from fellow riders.

“What’s really cool is that our trailers are such a spectacle on RAGBRAI, and everybody can tell they weigh so much, the people that ride by us they’re like, ‘What do you got there?’” Harris said.

They’ve had to deal with flats on the bikes and trailers because of blowouts on the searing pavement, but fellow riders and residents along the route have helped them get back on the road.

“It’s kind of like the best parts of Iowa,” Beenk said. “We haven’t broken down in a spot where people haven’t offered to help us, which is really nice. People have been more than supportive.”

The weather this week has been both a blessing and a curse. While solar energy is needed for their shows, the sunshine is at times taking its toll on the riders. Beenk said both he and Harris, along with a videographer who is joining them for the trip, have at times suffered from symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“With a little help, I think we’re going to be able to do it,” Harris said of completing the ride, which wr - Iowa City Press Citizen

"Local Music You Should Hear: Chasing Shade"

It’s 8:45 p.m. on a Thursday. Amid the downtown disarray, three twenty-something-year-olds are illuminated under green and pink stage lights. They pluck the strings of their guitars and stroke the snare heads for last minute tuning adjustments. The crowd waits in anticipation. Their set begins.

University of Iowa seniors, Griffen Harris, Elliott Beenk and Tim Cigrand make up the indie folk rock trio, Chasing Shade. The group released their debut album Pen to Paper earlier this year and offer it as a “pay what you like” download at

The group’s collective Rorscach-esque headshots on Pen to Paper cover don’t give the album due justice. Considering these cat’s talents, they already boast an impressive line-up of performance highlights, including first place at ICYC/New Belgium/Flat Black and Summer Camp Festival’s Battle-of-the-Bands and a bold unveiling at South by Southwest.

Though the crew has roots in Dubuque (Harris of Dubuque, Beenk, of De Witt and Cigrand, of Cascade), they met during their freshman year at college. With music streaming through their blood, it was only a matter of time before their collaborative efforts crossed paths.

Cigrand and Beenk began their jam sessions while they lived on the same dorm floor. After hearing Cigrand play the guitar, Beenk insisted that he try to dabble with bass guitar. While Cigrand’s comfort zone spanned further than most (experimenting with guitar, tuba and trombone since middle school), his intentions of picking up bass were uncertain. Beenk persevered until Cigrand became the band’s bassist.

Several months later, Cigrand and Beenk went to see another band perform—little did they know that their trio would soon become complete. The guys approached Harris after the show and the rest is history.

Harris joined Chasing Shade as a drummer.

“We had different lead singers for a long time, but it never really worked,” Harris said.

“We were better as a trio,” Beenk explained. “I knew Griffen could sing, so I forced him to try drumming and singing.”

Harris was a musician since an early age; when he wasn’t improvising drum patterns, he was tickling the eighty-eights. Between private percussion lessons outside of school, jazz band and concert band, Harris formed his first group in high school. In pursuit of finding his musical identity, Harris also picked up the acoustic guitar during his senior year after working in a music shop. Being the lead vocalist in a band never crossed his mind.

“My biggest influences are the Avvett Brothers, Bon Iver and My Morning Jacket, so I know that it’s normal for voices to crack and break…I then realized that the falsetto voice wasn’t so…lame.” Harris joked.

Though they are only three men strong, their harmonious sound is mystifying. Everyone in the group sings, but they are continuously creating innovative ways to keep it interesting. Harris is the lead singer, percussionist and plays the acoustic guitar, Beenk plays electric guitar and banjo and Cigrand plays bass and piano.

“We’re always finding new ways to fill in for other ‘non-existent’ members.” Beenk said. “By adding a synth pedal to our repetoire, Tim can play piano while he plays bass.”

“…and that allows me to play drums and sing.” Harris added.

The band grew from a wide variety of influences, but came together to create a unique sound. By traveling with at least a half dozen instruments, they set themselves apart from other-up-and-coming indie bands of the like.

Pen to Paper is a solid, 10-track freshman effort expressing the ebb and flow of college relationships, successes and failures.

“Each song is its own thing, not much continuity…not like a soap opera.” Harris clarified.

“Our music actually has many environmental undertones, there is a lot of subtle talk about sustainability efforts in ‘Echo’ and ‘Little Brother’.” Beenk explained.

“We’re still experimenting with that theme.” Cigrand laughed.

Harris conclu - Verum Magazine

"Kids These Days plays the Mill"

South of the bars, businesses, and banks that line Clinton Street is a massive old house. Upstairs, a window facing the street is propped open with a 2x4, allowing music to pour outside. But unlike most apartments in this college town, the music is not coming from a boom box or a stereo system.

The three musicians who make up Chasing Shade are creating the sounds.

The indie folk-rock trio will open for the Chicago-based Kids These Days at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 on the day of the show.

The openers

Chasing Shade comprises three Iowans hailing from different cities across the eastern part of the state. Guitarist Elliott Beenk and bassist Tim Cigrand met as freshmen in Slater and connected through music.

After seeing drummer and vocalist Griffen Harris perform, Beenk and Cigrand asked him to jam with them. Chasing Shade was born shortly after that.

The three UI seniors now live together in Iowa City and practice about four times a week. Their jam space is tight: Massive black amplifiers, speakers, and a drum kit build a perimeter around the room's centerpiece, an aging foosball table.

"Luckily, we've never gotten a noise complaint," Harris said. "We know the entire house and some of the neighbors. Last year, we didn't, so we would always stop before 9, except for when we didn't."

Chasing Shade's rehearsals are rather laid-back. The members continually move around the room, because all three are multi-instrumentalists. Beenk doubles as a banjo player, Cigrand occasionally plays the piano, and Harris' original instrument is the acoustic guitar.

"When we are creating a song, one of us will bring in an idea, and we'll jam on it for a while and see what develops naturally," Beenk said. "We talk about influences, what direction we want it to go, whether it's acoustic or a little more rocking. And it usually develops on its own."

Though the rehearsals are laid-back, the musicians share a serious aspiration: getting Chasing Shade's name out there.

The group is doing a good job.

It won first place in a battle of the bands at the Yacht Club and was awarded a week of recording time at Iowa City's Flat Black studio. There, the members produced their album pen to paper.

Chasing Shade performed at the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chilicothe, Ill., and recently spent a few weekends performing at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival. The group also toured in Colorado last summer.

"After a show at a coffee shop in Colorado, one of the workers offered us to go back to his place to record some songs," Harris said. "We went, thinking it was going be a creepy basement kind of thing, like we were never going to see our families again. It ended up being this multimillion-dollar studio."

That night, Chasing Shade recorded "Sunburned Bones." The song was available to download on its band-camp website for a monetary donation, and all of the money earned from the track was donated to this year's University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

The headliners

Kids These Days has a sound that transcends the restraints and borders of genres. The seven-piece group is features a combination of classic rock band, horn section, and words of a rapper.

Members of the band note diverse influences, including Rage Against the Machine, Adele, Parliament Funkadelic, Fiona Apple, and Wilco. The sound they create is as diverse as those influences.

"I think that our music touches on every single genre," said vocalist and keyboardist Macie Stewart. "Everyone can take something from it. Our music speaks for itself."

Kids These Days lives up to its name: The members of the group are young, and they are as talented as they are young. Most of them met while attending Whitney Young High in Chicago during the week and the Merit School of Music on the weekends.

They work to ensure that they provide the best experience for their fans.

"We rehearse almost every day," S - The Daily Iowan

"Local band Chasing Shade pursues indie fame"

Friday, March 9, SAC Spotlight brought the Iowa City band Chasing Shade to Marty’s. The band is made up of three University of Iowa seniors: Griffen Harris, Elliott Beenk and Tim Cigrand.
“We loved the fact that they’re local and making a name for themselves,” SAC Spotlight Co-chair Erika Lord said. “They are a really great band for Luther students to see.”
Harris, Beenk and Cigrand all grew up in Iowa: Dubuque, De Witt and Cascade, respectively.
Chasing Shade is not your typical college rock band. They are small, but the three members create a sound that digs deeper than the usual Iowa City rock group.
“I think we identify as indie folk rock,” Harris said. “We definitely have rock, we definitely have folk, but we also have a lot of blues influences, harmonies and we dig jazz drumming.”
They sound very different live than they do on their debut album “Pen to Paper,” which they released early this year. This only adds to their diversity as musicians.
“Every one of our shows can be completely different,” Cigrand said. “We can play an acoustic set in a coffee shop one night, and rock out the next.”
In Marty’s, their music was definitely rocking, but had hints of funk and jazz that made the songs interesting. The most striking element of Chasing Shade’s music, however, is the lyrics. Harris is the lead singer, but all three members contribute their voices to sing about success, failure, life lessons and relationships.
Written by Harris, the lyrics are beyond “college band” material. The words move past clichés and overused metaphors, and into the elite realm of some of their influences, like The Avett Brothers and My Morning Jacket.
As well as being the lead singer, Harris also drums and plays the acoustic guitar. Beenk handles the electric guitar and banjo, while Cigrand plays bass and piano. All three played in jazz bands growing up, and it is obvious that their passion for music was embedded in them from a young age.
Harris’ voice is surprisingly soulful, and he knows how to use falsetto. Beenk and Cigrand back him up, all while very deliberately plucking out notes on their instruments.
Throughout the show at Marty’s the three would occasionally glance at each other and let out small smiles when they knew they had hit something especially beautiful. Usually these moments happened after a particularly clear note from Harris, a haunting solo from Beenk, or a sly joke from any of the three.
The future of Chasing Shade is exciting. Harris and Cigrand will graduate after this year, and Beenk will stay one more year to earn his masters degree.
“Then we leave Iowa City,” Beenk said. “We will move to Colorado, or California, or Europe, or anywhere ... just somewhere we can grow and expand as musicians.”
In the more recent future, however, the band plans on doing a bicycle powered tour this summer during RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). They will bike to every location and power all of their equipment with the energy they generate through biking.
Chasing Shade tries to be environmentally conscious with everything that they do. The band recently led the “greening” of a music festival called Camp Euphoria. Elliott is currently involved in a competition to be America’s next eco-star, and at the time of the show in Marty’s was ranked second in the nation.
Chasing Shade is a musical force in Iowa City, and is on their way to conquering the rest of the Midwest.
“We’re going to chase the dream,” Harris said.
Check out Chasing Shade on Facebook,, and on Twitter @chasingshade. Their debut album “Pen to Paper” is available on their website. - Luther College Chips


Still working on that hot first release.



After doing a solar powered tour across Iowa via bicycles, Chasing Shade was recently likened to being the hardest working band in show business. - Iowa City Press Citizen, July 26th, 2012

Thus, it should be no surprise that this indie-beach-blues duo based out of Iowa City, IA has shared the stage with some of the top acts in the country including Bon Jovi, Pepper, G.Love & Special Sauce, Rusted Root, Lissie, and Mason Jennings.

Chasing Shade is also committed to giving back to their community and promoting sustainability. Chasing Shade has contributed to and performed at fundraisers benefiting Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and Engineers for a Sustainable World. In addition, Chasing Shade designed and implemented the first recycling and composting program at Camp Euforia, a local music festival of ~2000 attendees.

Festivals Performed at:
*Summer Camp Music Festival with guest appearance by Chuck Garvey of Moe.
*Chicago Blues and Bluegrass Festival 2010 & 2011