Chester Brown
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Chester Brown

Valparaiso, Indiana, United States | SELF

Valparaiso, Indiana, United States | SELF
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"Not Just Another Jam Band"

Not just another jam band

Chester Brown brings old-school ideals to show on Friday at The Livery

By TOM CONWAY - H-P Correspondent

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012 1:10 PM EST

BENTON HARBOR - The jam band classification has become pretty broad in recent years. The term was once used to describe bands like Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band, but nowadays encompasses musical styles like funk, progressive bluegrass and electronic music.

Chester Brown is an old-school jam band.

"Jam band is just a category people get thrown into anymore," Chester Brown keyboardist Nathan Vanderlin says by telephone. "You go to a good jam band festival now and you're going to see Primus. You're going to see Rush. Everyone is included in it now. Look at 'Stranglehold' by Ted Nugent. Today, that would be a jam band song. It's long and it's rocking."

Vanderlin describes Chester Brown's music simply as Americana.
"We have songs that could be country," he says. "We have pop-type stuff and we have jazzy-type stuff. We cover everything but metal and rap, really. I really think our sound, if I had to label it, would be vintage jam band. Guys like Widespread Panic and the Grateful Dead and Phish, we sound more like them. Jam bands are getting away from songs and more into electronica. That turns me off completely. It makes me not want to be considered a jam band at all. I like songs. That is why I got into it."

The band's two studio albums, "Stale Cigarettes" (2007) and last year's self-titled album, show a strong attention to songcraft. Chester Brown saves the jamming for their live shows, which can be experienced on their "Live @ The Shoreline" CD (2009) and this Friday when they play at The Livery in Benton Harbor.

"We still like to jam our songs, but we have songs," Vanderlin says. "It's a matter of getting deeper into the music as opposed to just jamming to jam. I think that is what happened to the scene, people just jamming to jam without really trying to portray what the song is about, because there is no song."

Chester Brown formed in Chesterton, Ind., in 2000. The band consists of Vanderlin, his brother Tim on guitar, bassist Dominick Puglisi, guitarist Mike Kneeland and drummer Tony Dellumo. All members sing and contribute in the songwriting.

Chester Brown suffered through the Spinal Tap-type dilemma of revolving drummers before they snatched Dellumo from Chicago jam band Mr. Blotto.

"We have had nine drummers," Vanderlin says. "Tony has been with us for about two and a half to three years."

Chesterton is a small town, but Vanderlin says that it has proven advantageous to the band's formative years, especially with the close proximity to Chicago.

"There are like 10,000 people in Chesterton," he says. "Not a big place. But, it is so connected. You've got Chesterton and Portage, and you've got Hammond and East Chicago and Gary and all of these places, and they are all crammed together. It is almost a suburb of Chicago, in a sense."

Chester Brown has logged more than 1,600 shows across the U.S. in their decade-plus career and is proud to call Chesterton home.

"Great musicians from there," Vanderlin says. "I have played 12 different states and I would put a lot of these musicians that play in our backyard up against some of the best that I've seen. It's a great music scene and we get along with the other bands there."

Vanderlin says that he has not encountered any of the problems that sometimes happen when siblings are in a band together. If anything, he says that working with his older brother, Tim, is a bonus for the band.

"Some brothers don't get along," he says. "Some family members don't. Me and my brother, we do. We don't carry around a lot of stress from not saying things. My brother can go ahead and yell at me, 'Don't do that. That sounds stupid.' I still have to see him at Easter."

Vanderlin adds that he has been friends with Puglisi since high school, so he is like a brother to him, too.

The band is currently working on a documentary called "A Band in a Jam," which they plan on releasing this spring.

Chester Brown also has been selected to perform at Summer Camp this year. This will be the second appearance for the band at the popular music festival in Chillicothe, Ill.

Vanderlin says that they get the expected misunderstanding about the band's name. Nobody in the band is named Chester Brown. Adding to the confusion, the group's logo is a drawing of a bearded man that could resemble any of the band members.

"It's like the old Pink Floyd thing," he says. "'OK, which one is Pink?' We all look like the image, our logo, from time to time. It changes. I have even had my buddy's little kids, knowing me, point at the album and our logo and go, 'Hey, that looks like Chloe's dad,' not knowing that it was our album."

-- WHAT: Chester Brown

-- WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

-- WHERE: The Livery, 190 Fifth St., Benton Harbor

-- HOW MUCH: $6

-- CONT - Herald Palladium

"Chester Brown"

For over a decade, five guys from Chesterton have been doing what they love most... PERFORMING... and these musicians are ready to hit another milestone in their career. " We have our third album coming out on Nov. 19'th," said Nate Vanderlin who sings and plays keyboards for Chester Brown. "The album will have twelve or thirteen songs on it and will be released at The Shoreline Brewery."
The band Chester Brown formed 12 years ago with Nate, his brother Tim Vanderlin (guitar and Vocals), and their friend Dominic Puglisi (bass and Vocals). When They first started out they did what most musicians first start out doing; play their garage and pick up gigs at bars whenever they can. "We were excited to learn songs from artists we loved our whole life," Nate explained."we had one bargig a month and we were happy to just get up and play."
The guys played a hand full of originals and all sorts of covers, everthing from Johnny Cash to Frank Zappa, but after about six years of playing the bar scene the guys realized that if they were going to take their band to the next level they were going to have to make some changes, changes that would require the guys to really get serious about the band. " I was going to school, working at the seel mill, performing at night and then I had a daughter," Nate said. "I realized I had to much going on, something had to give so I gave up school. Music became my school in a sense."
And the decision did change things around for Chester Brown. In 2005, the guysdid 258 shows and tooktheir show on the road. They starte performing more of their originalmusic and their popularity really began to pick up. "We've played in about 10 different states since then," Nate said. "It puts into prospective that we are not just a local band."
Not just a local band indeed. Over the past 12 years, Chester Brown has played over 1,600 shows (about 200 of these were benefits). They also have 64 original songsunder their belt with 2 albums already released and one getting ready to drop next month. "This 3'rd album is self titled, Chester Brown, Chester Brown," Nate said. "It's our rebirth album. We did all the recording, mixing, producing so there's no-one else's input, just us."
The songs you'll find on the album are about things going on in everyday life. When the guys began writing the lyrics, they took a look at what was going on in the world around them and pulled inspiration from the good, the bad, and the controversial. 'We are inspired by bad politics, good people, and what the average Joe goes through on and a day to day basis" Nate said. "We have three songs about the ill effects of such hard drugs as heroin as we have lost a handful of friends to it. we are just a blue collar band writing aboutthings that we consider real and we deliver the message and music in a very raw manner. When I say raw, i mean raw musical energy like that of the Rolling Stones."
So as the band looks forward to the release of their latest album, they also look ahead towards the release of another project their working on. 'We have a documentary coming out on us as well," explained Nate. "They've been filming it for three years. These guys from Indy came up here 9 or 10 times and recorded us for entire weekends at a time. Right nowthey have an hour and half of material but they want more."
So the documentary crew is coming back up in October to film some more material. "They are going to run more interviews in order to get to know us better," said Nate. "basically they're making it three days of non-stop camera's rolling on each of us. Then sometime in the spring we'll release the DVD. Our hope is to have a showing of the documentary at the Art Theatre in Downtown Hobart and then play a show immediatly after. "The guys would like to do a tour of the documentary's release across the Midwest, finding small theatres so they can show the film and play a show.
Making it big, on a national level is a dream for these Northwest Indiana natives. "We actually want to be on the national spectrum," explained Nate. "If I could make a living and travel that would be perfect. that's my goal and that's always what we've been going for."
Want to catch Chester Brown live this month around the region? Here's a look at where they'll be. October 1'st, Ike Fest in Michigan City. October 28'th, Tequila Si in Crown Point. And dont forget about their album release party at The Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City on November 19'th. Show starts at 10p.m. and ther will be a $10 cover at the door. The $10 at hte door will get you a copy of their new album. The album will also be available on Itunes. To learn more about upcoming shows and promotions check out their website - NWI Entertainer

"Review: Chester Brown"

Chester Brown - S/T (Independent)
Some facts: Chester Brown is a Chesterton, Indiana based quintet. In the last ten years they’ve played over 1400 gigs, performing their own songs and a multitude of cover tunes. I suspect they’re not unfamiliar with the recordings of the Grateful Dead, which isn’t to say they sound a whole lot like them, but they do share certain similarities of ethos, musical dexterity, openness of approach and a distrust of barbers.

Of course they’re a jam-band, so more suited to the stage than the studio, but this, their second studio album, is an enjoyable collection with an emphasis on their songs. The group’s three singers - Tim Vanderlin, brother Nate Vanderlin and Dominic Puglisi – who I assume sing their own songs, bring plenty of variety to the table. The results are always pleasing, whether it’s the jazzy funk vibe of opening cut “Sad Song”, the Phish-like “Backin' In” or the loose country-flecked rock of “Whiskey in Heaven”.

Most tracks clock in at over four minutes, with a trio coming in at over five, so they allow themselves some room to stretch their musical muscles. Live on stage I imagine they’re a top night out, and if they ever venture this side of the pond, kindly put be down for a ticket, or two.
Rob F.
- Leicester Bangs

"The rise of Chester Brown"

By Tom Lounges Times Correspondent | Posted: Friday, September 9, 2011
Chester Brown is a regional group that has been making music for a dozen years and hopes their forthcoming, self-titled album will be what helps break them on a more national level. From left: Nate Vanderlin, Tim Vanderlin, Dominic Puglisi, Tony Dellumo, and Mike Kneeland.
An heir to the Grateful Dead genre of music and a favorite with the hookah smoking and hacky sack kicking set, Chester Brown's very name is a slang term used in their hometown of Chesterton for local ditch weed.
This regional quintet has even been embraced by Relix magazine, the prevailing national publication which chronicles the modern hippie culture.
Chester Brown was included on a 2010 compilation CD created by Relix and distributed free to its readers as part of a special "Bands to watch for..." edition.
"Improvisation IS a big part of what we do," said keyboardist/vocalist Nathan Vanderlin. "We tend to get labeled as a ‘jam band' a lot and I understand why, but we're more that that," he continued. "We also have three- and four-minute songs that are radio friendly and our music is sort of all over the board."
With a catalogue of 64 original songs to their credit, Chester Brown's material transverses a broad sound -- from a bluegrass-y kind of country-soul, to trippy pop, to blues-rooted romps, to old school rock ‘n' roll  -- further enhanced by the fact that all members swap out lead vocal duties.
"Today, most bands have songs that all tend to sound the same. And many bands tend to sound the same. We pride ourselves in NOT being that way," said Vanderlin.
Some of their music as recorded live can be heard and downloaded on their website,, and on Vanderlin's favorite online music site,, as well as on a pair of albums (2007's "Stale Cigarettes" and 2009's "Live at the Shoreline") available for purchase.
Vanderlin is clearly excited about the forthcoming self-titled album, which is in the final mixing and mastering stage this week. The finished product is expected to have a dozen songs, including "Wander," the catchy pop/rock track featured on the Relix magazine compilation CD last year. Another CB song,"300 Dollar Man" is currently being used as the theme for a local Tuesday evening radio program on WIMS /1420-AM in Michigan City -- generated a lot of national interest in Chester Brown, helping to land them some prestigious gigs, sharing stages with the likes of Los Lobos, Rusted Root and Chicago blues icon Lonnie Brooks.
Vanderlin took up playing keyboards as sort of an homage to his guitar-playing older brother, Tim Vanderlin.
"Tim has been playing guitar since he was about 12 or 13 and he's 35 now," said Nathan, who tried guitar first and soon after shifted to keys because there were an abundance of six-string players out there and not nearly so many ivory ticklers.
Tim Vanderlin and his childhood buddy Dominic Puglisi, the bassist for Chester Brown, had been playing music together most of their lives. Eventually, pesky little brother Nathan was included in their basement jams and the core of what would become Chester Brown was born.
The current lineup came together when multi-instrumentalist Mike Kneeland joined about six years ago and concluded with the addition of ex-Mr. Blotto skins man, Tony Dellumo.
"Getting Tony in the band was the missing piece of the puzzle," said Vanderlin.
Another important piece of that musical puzzle is Brent Bernhardt.
"Brent is our live audio guy and he has engineered and produced the new album with us," said Vanderlin. "He knows us and our sound as well as we know ourselves. And we are very happy and very proud of this new album."
The "Chester Brown" CD will be for sale at shows when the group goes on the road to promote it in January, and will be sold as digital audio through iTunes and other online music stores.
Vanderlin expects that their planned 2012 tour, set to start in January, will include a fair share of college gigs and brewery shows.
"I'd like to do a coast-to-coast tour of those (micro-breweries)," he said. "I think that would be (the) perfect (kind of venue) for our music."
And that said, Chester Brown will host their CD release party at The Shoreline Brewery in their hometown of Chesterton on November 19, where the band is a frequent attraction and where they cut their live CD nearly three years ago.
- NWI Times newspaper

"Chester Brown"

Chester Brown's seemingly effortless ability to get their audience up and dancing can only be attributed to the way they transcend and translate smooth psychedelic jams that crescendo into intense volcanic peaks of endless energy.
Hailing from Northwest Indiana with an always-expanding repertoire of around 50 originals and 60 covers ranging from Zappa to Bob Dylan, Chester Brown prides itself on hard work and complete dedication to music as they plowed through 315 shows from 2005 to 2006. This five- piece band describe themselves as part jam band, part alternative country and part Rock n' roll, though their range expands out to include a jazzy and bluesy feel in many of their originals. Most of the band members write songs that incorporate their diverse musical influences, including drummer Dan Moore, who was literally the son of a preacher and grew up playing gospel at his dad's church and bass player Dominic Puglisi who is heavily influenced by Pink Floyd.
Keyboardist Nate Vanderlin fells that, like most musicians, their musical journey is never-ending but they have definately come a long way since forming in 2000. " We have learned just as much on the conscious level as on the subconscious. Just from playing togeether for so many shows and practices. one day you stop and listen and think, 'man that sounds all right! We have harmonies? When did that happen?' It's hard to look that far back, but I know we have come a long way."
The band recently recorded a new CD, "Stale Cigarettes," released May 19'th that showcases 11 of their original tracks. Besides the natural ability to get people up and moving, their honest, relatable lyrics reflect depth and sincerity in their songs if one chooses to take time out from dancing and listen. Just recently, the band brought in a second guitarist and mandolin player Mike Kneeland who provides a unique and new sound to the group. Lead guitarist and vocalist Tim Vanderlin sums up Mike's contribution by saying that "He has brought a more grounded approach to our music. He is incredibly knowledgeable in music theory and has a great sense of note placement and rhythm. Basically Mike can do on guitar what I can't and vice versa."
When all is said and done, these guys work hard, play hard and will get your asses up and moving! Check them out at or on - wassup magazine (Chicago, IL. July 2007) by:Francesca Kozlik


Stale Cigarettes 2007
Live @ The Shoreline 2009
Chester Brown (self titled) 2011



Chester Brown is a five-piece Northwest Indiana band whom heralds over 60 original compositions and an array of covers. They have been performing live since their start in 2000, with numerous shows in 13 different states and over 2000 shows under their belt. Pulling from a seemingly endless musical library, they draw on elements of Rock, Funk, Country, Blues, R&B;, and Jazz. While they are not your typical Jam-Band, they can and do indeed jam! Chester Brown and their fans have formed a tight- knit bond that has exploded into respectable numbers in the last few years. The bands ability to smoothly translate and transcend their music from melodic oceans of sound into volcanic peeks of endless energy and back comes from a decade of down home dirty work and road weary wear and tear. Chester Brown has shared the stage with bands like Los Lobos, Vinnie Amico of Moe,Mr.Blotto, Chicago Blues legend Lonnie Brooks, Rusted Root, Railroad Earth, Cubensis, Jazz legend Herman Green, The Big Wu, Acoustic Hookah, Willie waldmen and Steve Molitz to name a few.The five distinct personalities of Chester Brown collide and combust to create a sound all their own, which is illustrated on their albums; "Stale Cigarettes" 2007, "live At The Shoreline" 2009, "Chester Brown" 2011 (featuring Vinnie Amico of "Moe"), a documentary called "Band In A Jam" 2013, and a 4'th album due for release this summer.