Doug Shotwell and The Right Hand Band
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Doug Shotwell and The Right Hand Band

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Folk Indie

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Know this: Doug Shotwell and the Right Hand Band loves you. This Thanksgiving, the folky/jammy/bluesy band dispersed free t-shirts with this welcome message to their fans. The best part about this isn’t the “free” or the cool shirt – it’s the fact that it’s true. In fact, Doug Shotwell and his counterparts (Will Gumbiner – Double Bass, Brian Sanborn – Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Steven Rutledge – Percussion/Drums, and Ian Engels – Acoustic/Electric Guitar/Slide Guitar) are attempting to revive a lost art of amassing fans by just loving them.

This isn’t to say that the music does not play a monumental part in their growing success; instead it reinforces the image of music as a creator of community. They want to invite all of their dear fans into this musical family. To get a better feel for this idea, we decided to sit down and have a talk with Doug.



How’d all you fellas meet and decide to start the band?

Steve and I, the drummer of our band, were in this group together that didn’t really pan out, but over spring break of last year Steve and I were hanging out a lot and started playing some tunes again. Then Brian, one of the guitarists, moved back from Texas to Chicago and started jamming with us. We asked if he wanted to play and he said yeah! The others followed the same way, I asked and they all said yes. It all happened very organically, friendships turned into music and we had a band.

How recently did you take on the name Doug Shotwell and the Right Hand Band and what was your first real gig?

August of 2013, that’s when we shot that first video in the woods and then we went on to just being a band. Our first gig was at The Store on Halsted. Mind you, before I started playing I’d never gotten in front of anyone to do that. I was up there freaking out and every one of my band members are seasoned veterans of playing music for a crowd. So they’re trying to pat me on the back and were saying that no one comes to see you fail, they come to see you succeed. I think that was in November. I was hoppin’ out of my shoes and my heart was pounding out of my chest, but we got through it. It’s a really vulnerable thing to get in front of people and sing words about things you probably wouldn’t talk about with anyone else.



Where do you get your inspiration from and how long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing creatively since I was real little. Even when I was in elementary school I said I wanted to be a writer. I think that the stuff I’m writing now and that really means a lot stems from me not being great at holding relationships, from my own fault, a lot of the blame goes on me but things also just happen and people go in and out of your life. So I guess the main inspiration for everything is people, always the people and the words.

Certain members of your band seem to be in other groups and you all play together. What does that say about the musical community you guys seem to be a part of?

A lot of the point of our music is that people can get around it, you know really get involved. Our band is a community and we want people to feel a part of the band whether they’re playing the music or not. We’re really trying to cultivate that in a way that gets people out, that gets people in front of the cameras and in front of all of us singing songs because getting across to people is the most important part.

If you could go to a show front row then hang out backstage with any musician who would it be? Hang out party?

I’d probably sit down with the Wood Brothers. They’re the one band that kind of changed my life. If I wanted to go backstage and party – gee wiz that’s tough because there are so many – it’d probably be Tom Morello and the guys from Rage Against the Machine.

What are some ups and downs about starting a music career and being students at the same time?

I guess the ups are you’re just able to play with your favorite band every single day. There are so many ups that it makes the downs seem trivial. You get up there and bare your soul and you don’t get that chance in a lot of other places and I think that in itself is very therapeutic. I guess the down is that it takes a lot. There’s a lot of focus involved in playing and trying to get off the ground. It also takes a toll on a lot of your relationships. Unfortunately school becomes seemingly unimportant very quickly in the grand spectrum.



What musicians have you been inspired by?

DS: I grew up in the car listening to the Eagles, Creedence and Clapton with my dad. My mom was born and raised in Ecuador and played a ton of Latin music throughout my childhood. Not that that has influence on the way that I write, but it definitely familiarized me with the romantic aspect of music. Then I really discovered modern day fold music myself. The Amos Lees and the Ray Lamontagnes and the Jeff Buckleys. Oh my gosh there are so many people that I steal from. It’s the idea of the greatness of a writer revolving around his ability to steal, or how good of a copycat you are. So in folk music especially for me it’s trying to use your own words in a familiar context.

Do you have any other favorite local bands?

Woo Park definitely, Lighten Up, Luke Henry and Rabbitfoot- we play shows with them all the time. - Joanna McCall


"Heart hitting soul with hometown vibes. This band is truthfully made of love." - Dave Giron


The night was unassuming. The suburb, proudly blue collar. Hops and diesel fuel and fryer grease and distant bonfires hung in the air.

Inside was a crowd that read of a mini-reunion. I drank porters with ease, congregated with old friends, and smiled with a stupidity reflective of the music’s familiarity and simple brilliance.

In a brewery rooted in honest craftsmanship, the night was dedicated to photographer Eric Rejman, whose “Exclusive Peaks” exhibit was debuting inside the BuckleDown Brewery Taproom.

The affable band of the people, Doug Shotwell & The Right-Hand Band, kicked the night off with an hour-long set of life-affirming Americana tunes that have become their calling card. The band shone with grins throughout, their music wove through peaks and valleys of subdued and silent introspection to roaring, major-keyed, transcendent jams.

They were, as they call themselves, “beers at noon.” The kind of unexpected kick of positivity and simplicity that can only come from a careless neglect of practicalities.

A collection of classical and jazz-trained musicians, The Right-Hand Band ends the year on a high as they look towards a period of growth in 2015, highlighted by the release of their new EP, Whose Kid Is This?, along with a headlining show at Martyr’s on November 20th.

On the heels of the communal unity amassed by Doug Shotwell, Low Spark capped the evening with a blissed-out set of improvisational jams that strung acid jazz with rock and jammy peaks. A set that felt better placed in the wee-hours, it catered to expanded conversation rather than the introspective revivalism that had been so present during Shotwell’s set. Still, though, one couldn’t deny the inherent skill of the group, nor the connectivity of the band’s approach. As the beers continued to flow, the power of Low Spark’s buzzing jazz took on a more cerebral feel.

In the end, the key to the night was the photography of Eric Rejman whose stunning heli-shots of the desolate beauty found in our National Parks provided each band with a singular backdrop to their sets. For music that felt catered to the natural world in one way or another, Rejman’s photography felt like an appropriate link between the two groups’ diverse sounds. Funny what can be found on an unassuming Friday night. - Brian R. Brinkman


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

In August of 2013 a group of five men began compiling music and ideas that what would later be known as the smooth Indie Folk music of Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band. In late 2012 Steven Rutledge (drummer) and Doug Shotwell (singer) both out of state new comers to Chicago, meet and started collaborating musically together on a regular bases. Upon leaving a group that didn't pan out, Doug and Steve began to jam and play music together more seriously, incorporating lyrics and melodies written by Doug Shotwell. Not much later in the year, Brian Sanborn (guitarist) moved back to his hometown of Chicago, IL. After a year studying in Texas, he was ready to find new avenues to music to pursue. 

After cultivating a strong and immediate friendship between the three of them Doug, Steve and Brian set out to create their own particular brand of Folk music. Needing the essential tools to pursue this, the new band added long time friend of Brian Sanborn, Ian Engels (slide guitar). Adding Ian's smooth slide and picking styles really started to round out the sound but it was missing something extremely important, bass. Will Gumbiner is an Upright Bass player whom they had all known to be a reliable and soulful person near and away from his instrument. All is took was asking him to join and to show him some tunes and he was also in.


After the band solidified their players and sound they began recording numerous videos and a five track EP all which have been featured in this press kit. Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band have a steady flow of shows in Chicago and have acquired a following that is as lively and passionate as their music.

Band Members