Fair Herald
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"Fair Herald on powerpopaholic.com"

Not really power pop, but regular rock here. Fans of Counting Crows and Dave Matthews Band will find a lot to like about Fair Herald, with it's laid back guitars and Mike Kuntz wailing lead vocals. The opening song "From Peotone" has a steady beat and effective piano lead, hits its comfort zone early and it continues with the mellow REM-like "Whirlwind" where Kuntz sings "There's no where else to run anymore." The next song is one of the albums best, "Coyote Nowhere" with it's alt-country guitar ballad style and sunny mood and light percussion - similar to Whiskeytown or Old 97s. The remaining songs on the album tread on familiar guitar rock ground, and don't really distinguish themselves from each other. There are exceptions though. "Never Said Hello" and Make Me Blue" are standouts as musings on a relationship with a musician, and both have an impressive guitar solo to end the songs. Fans of the above mentioned bands should check them out. - powerpopaholic.com


"Local Band Fair Herald roaming some Familiar Streets"

(May 22, 2008)

Music, said Sean Bacastow, is so much more than words and sounds.

"We consider music to be the fairest medium to express something," the high school senior from Burr Ridge said, explaining the meaning behind his band's name, Fair Herald.

The four members of Fair Herald met as freshmen at St. Ignatius High School in Chicago. Today, they are seniors, and like their own lives, Fair Herald seems to be on its way to bigger and better things.

"We're just getting to where we want to be," said Bacastow, vocalist and bass player for the group. He and his fellow bandmates -- Mike Kuntz (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Bloniarz (keyboard) of Chicago and Dave Brankin (drums) of Beverly -- have played venues including The Metro, Beat Kitchen, Taste of Chicago, Millennium Park, and Subterranean, and recently were featured on Q101's Local 101 show with Chris Payne.

"We have spent years defying age limitations and entertaining crowds all over Chicago," Bacastow said. Next month, Fair Herald will release its second CD. Titled "Familiar Streets," Brankin said the songs are all original collaborations by the four members of the band. That ability to work together is what makes the group work, and makes the sound unique, he said.

"We're just really good friends. That helps a lot," said Brankin. "The sound is very cohesive." Many of the songs start with an idea from Kuntz, he said. "Then we get together and hash it out."

Bacastow said Fair Herald's style doesn't fit neatly into a musical niche, but has flavors of alternative country and folksy rock. "It's not run-of-the-mill radio rock," said Bacastow, who lists the Jayhawks, Ryan Adams and Wilco as big influences for the band.

They may be young, but Brankin said the members of Fair Herald have known their share of heartache, which has provided material for many of the songs on "Familiar Streets."

"They're about coming of age and looking ahead," Brankin said.

The CD, the group's second, will be available on iTunes and at the many shows Fair Herald plans to play this summer.

Upcoming shows include an appearance tomorrow night, May 23, at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State St., Chicago, a CD launch show June 8 at The Hideout, 1141 W. Wabansia, Chicago, and the MS Bike Tour at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, June 21.

Booking shows and getting the word out about Fair Herald is a daily job for each member of the self-managed group.

"Each of us spends a good hour a day on the business end of things," Bacastow said. That's in addition to two weekly practices, usually held in a studio apartment in Chicago.

"It's a great resource" Bacastow said of the centrally-located apartment provided by one of the members' mothers. It allows the band to keep their instruments in one place rather than haul them around from one rehearsal space to another.

In just a few months the members of Fair Herald will be freshmen again, but this time at various colleges across the Midwest. But they're not going to let their individual college plans get in the way of the band. Each member, Brankin said, is just a train ride from the city.

"We're going to stay together," Bacastow said, and play shows on weekends and breaks.

In the meantime, they'll take any chance they get to make music. - The Doings - Hinsdale IL


"Fair Herald on Alt-Country.nl"

Fair Herald bestaat uit vijf frisse boys uit Chicago, die met Familiar Streets (het woord zegt het al) geen enkele pretentie hebben om nieuwe wegen te bewandelen, maar wel prima uit de voeten kunnen op de reeds door Reckless Kelly, Counting Crows, Whiskeytown en Loose Diamond platgetreden paden. Het is zo'n plaat die lekker voorbijkuiert, zonder dat het ene nummer zich duidelijk onderscheidt van het andere. Flink wat elektrisch gitaarwerk en daar overheen mooi met elkaar versmolten twee- of driestemmige vocalen. De enige variatie treffen we aan in het tempo: om de twee of drie nummers komt er een wat obligaat overkomende ballad tussendoor. Die voorspelbaarheid is meteen ook het minpuntje van Familiar Streets. Al met al een goede middenmoter, met potentie voor de subtop. (René Leverink)

Google translation: Fair Herald consists of five bright boys from Chicago who, with Familiar Streets (the word says it all) do not pretend to have new roads to walk, but great feet made already by Reckless Kelly,
Counting Crows, Whiskey Town and beaten Loose Diamond paths. It is such a nice plate over kuiert without
that one number is clear from the
others. Lot of electric guitar and over
nice with melted two or three voices singing. The only variation we find in the pace: every two or three songs, a ballad which obligate matching between. This predictability is also the
minpuntje of Familiar Streets. All in all a good mid engine, with potential for the top. - René Leverink - Alt-Country.nl


"Fair Herald on Rootshighway.it"

(7/10)

Non avete idea di quante band ci arrivano accompagnate da note che le presentano come "influenzate da Neil Young e dai Replacements", "simili ai Whiskeytown e ai Counting Crows" (in questo caso si buttano nel mucchio addirittura gli Old 97's), e autori di "ballate alt-country o Americana". Nulla di male, tutto questo era sulla cresta dell'onda dieci anni fa e ora è naturale che l'America sia piena di giovani band che con questa musica ci è cresciuta sperando un giorno di poter dire la propria. La loro sfortuna è quella che il sogno lo hanno fatto in tanti, perché l'affollamento di genere nel mondo indipendente è ormai cronico e ingestibile. Sarebbe davvero bello poter scandagliare l'America palmo a palmo per raccontarvi le storie e la musica di ognuna di questi piccoli eroi della roots-music, ma per necessità anche noi siamo costretti a pescare nel mucchio, e non è detto che sia un male se permette di apprezzare con più calma e attenzione un piccolo gioiellino amatoriale come questo Familiar Streets dei Fair Herald.

Che, per la cronaca, sono un quintetto di Chicago con look da nerds (guardate il loro divertente video) e aria dimessa, come richiede l'iconografia rock a cui hanno deciso di appartenere. E che come musicisti sembrano il risultato di una clonazione di vecchie glorie di musica roots, sia la chitarra rozza e mai sguaiata di Mark Goldich, la sezione ritmica pigra e quasi mai aggressiva di Dave Brankin e Sean Bacastow o la voce di Mike Bellis, che sembra un Jeff Tweedy a cui hanno tolto un paio di tonalità alte. Nella prevedibilità del mix, la differenza qui la fanno le tastiere di Jimmy Bloniarz, che maneggia pianoforti, wurlitzer e quant'altro necessario per essere degni di quel santino di Benmont Tench degli Heartbreakers che sicuramente tiene appeso al muro della sua camera. Fin qui non ci sarebbero elementi per elevare Famliar Streets al di sopra della sufficienza di rito che possiamo assicurare ai buoni seguaci di un mondo a noi caro, ma quello che ci ha convinti a spenderci parole è la bontà sopra la media di queste dieci canzoni, il fatto che l'uno-due iniziale formato da From Peotone e Whirlwind scalda gli animi laddove quindici anni fa avrebbe scaldato anche le penne per decantarne le meraviglie, e che anche i deliziosi intrecci acustici di Coyote Nowhere e l'heartland rock di Out That Door richiamano la nostra attenzione anche grazie alle divertenti liriche.

E poi come non apprezzare ballate rurali epiche come One Smoke, Mythology o Make Me Blue,o la capacità di andare oltre la struttura della canzone per affrontare il lungo travolgente finale di Where Does She Go. Difficile scommettere sul loro futuro, la scarsa varietà di idee non sembra essere preludio di grandi opere, a meno che non finiscano nelle sapienti (e costose) mani di qualche produttore giusto, ma intanto farsi una camminata su queste strade familiari potrebbe essere una delle cose più belle che può capitarvi rovistando nel sottobosco indipendente americano.

Google translation: You have no idea how many bands we arrive accompanied by notes that present themselves as "influenced by Neil Young and the Replacements," "similar to Whiskeytown and the Counting Crows" (in this case is thrown into the pile even Old 97's), and authors of "alt-country ballads and Americana." Nothing wrong, all this was on the crest of a decade ago and now it is natural that America is full of young band with this music that we grew up hoping one day to say his own. Their misfortune is that the dream did so in so many, because the kind of crowding in the world is now independent of chronic and unmanageable. It would be really nice if you could fathom the palm to palm America to tell the stories and music of each of these little heroes of roots-music, but by necessity we are forced to fish in the bunch, and will not necessarily be a bad thing if can appreciate with more calm and focus a little gem like this amateur Familiar Streets of Fair Herald.

That, for the record, are a quintet from Chicago to look nerds (they look funny video) and resigned air, as required by rock iconography to which they have chosen to belong. And as musicians seem the result of a clone of the old glories of roots music, the guitar is rough and never sguaiata Mark Goldich, the rhythm section lazy and almost never aggressive Dave Brankin and Sean Bacastow or the voice of Mike Bellis, who looks like a Jeff Tweedy which was removed a couple of high tones. Predictability in the mix, the difference here are the keyboards Jimmy Bloniarz, handling pianos, Wurlitzer, and whatever else needed to be worthy of that holy picture of the Heartbreakers Benmont Tenchi certainly keeps hanging on the wall of his room. So far there are elements to raise Famliar Streets above the sufficiency of the rite that we can ensure the good followers of a world dear to us, but what convinced us to spend the good word is above the average of these ten songs, the fact that the one-two original format From Peotone Whirlwind and warms the soul when fifteen years ago would have warmed even the pens to decant the wonders, and even the delicious intrecci acoustic Coyote Nowhere and the heartland rock of Out That Door attract our attention thanks to the amusing lyrics.

And then how can we not appreciate rural epic ballads like One Smoke, Mythology or Make Me Blue, or the ability to go beyond the structure of the song to address the long sweeping final Where Does She Go Hard to bet on their future, the limited variety of ideas do not seem to be a prelude of great works, unless they fall into wise (and expensive) the hands of some vendor fair, but in the meantime take a walk on these roads relatives could be one of the most beautiful things that can happen rummage in the undergrowth independent American . - Rootshighway.it


"Fair Herald Spreads the News"

Fair Herald
Glen Young

Fair Herald Spreads the News
A Chicago-Petoskey connection at Festival on the Bay

By Glen Young 8/10/09

At the beginning of their song “Mythology,” Fair Herald vocalist Mike Kuntz sings, “I’ll meet you on the other side if I make it through.” The band, made up of five Chicago area friends, is hoping their music continues to make it through to an ever-widening audience.
Fair Herald will reach out to Northern Michigan audiences with shows at Petoskey’s Festival on the Bay this Friday, August 14, and City Park Grill August 15.
Featured on the band’s 2008 recording Familiar Streets, “Mythology,” showcases the group’s layered, eclectic style, a sound newest member Mark Goldich says is influenced by the Chicago-area group Wilco. “Their set of influences matches ours,” he says, adding inspiration from The Replacements, Gram Parsons, and even Woody Guthrie.
In addition to Goldich, who plays guitar, Fair Herald features Kuntz on lead vocals, Jimmy Bloniarz on keyboards and percussion, Dave Brankin on drums, and Sean Bacastow on bass. Kuntz is the band’s primary lyricist, but the others agree their songs come primarily in collaboration.
The band’s members have been friends since their elementary school days in the Chicago area. All five are now college sophomores. Goldich, Kuntz, and Bloniarz are students at the University of Michigan; Bacastow is at Wisconsin, while Brankin attends Knox College in Illinois.

PETOSKEY CONNECTION
Geography has been a challenge, but the band has managed to thrive while staying busy sorting out academic careers. Goldich, who eventually moved with his family to Petoskey, did not officially join the band until 2008, though he says, “I’ve been playing with them whenever I could for the last three or four years.” He says he, Kuntz and Bloniarz have been friends since first grade. He admits that living in Northern Michigan made it harder to stay connected. “But now that we’re all in college,” he says, “it made sense for me to officially join the band.
“I used to sit down with a copy of the album (Familiar Streets) and play along to it,” Goldich says. “I would just try to come up with my own parts.” He admits that he used to have “lead guitarist syndrome,” but is now focused on playing a sound that fits the rest of the band.
Kuntz admits the long distances have been tough on the group. “We’re definitely not playing as much as we’d like, but that’s why we’re hitting it hard this summer.” Fair Herald spent most of July together in Chicago, playing multiple venues and practicing.
The band can better blend their musical goals and academic expectations because they are all underclassmen, Kuntz says. “We’re at a point in our lives where we can attend school full time and play in a band full time. It’s not ideal but we make it work.”

A COLLABORATION
Goldich says the band’s songs evolve from a skeleton, typically outlined by Kuntz. “We try to make it as much of a collaboration as possible,” he says.
“The more we throw these ideas out, the more we butt heads, the more we know we’re pushing the song to its outermost limits,” Kuntz believes. The result so far is the eight songs on Familiar Streets, all featuring the full, mature sound found on “Mythology” or the reflective “Coyote Nowhere,” where Kuntz explains, “I’m standing on the edge, but I’m under control.” Their combination of lyrical accessibility and musical range is equally evident on the defiant “Out The Door,” where Goldich’s guitar runs fill in as Kuntz explains, “I’ll make it through/ I don’t care how/ I’m living too fast for worries now.” The result is comfortably at home on any playlist next to contemporary acts like Death Cab For Cutie or Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, as well as their influences like Parsons or even Pete Seeger.
Kuntz says the songs are rooted in lyrical poetry. “We build it from the ground up,” he says of their collective approach. “Everybody has a different idea of where the song is going... We end up playing the song many different ways to figure out what sounds best collectively.”
As a lyricist and composer, Kuntz subscribes to the idea that less is more when arranging a song, and hopes their compositions, “sound like they’re still in a garage or a half-finished state,” so as to be constantly evolving.
“I think the thing we’re trying to focus on this summer is really refining our live performance,” Goldich says. “You really have to impress (new fans) with your live performances We’re throwing our chips in this July basket and hoping the work we do will pay off,” he adds.”

For more info on Fair Herald see http://www.myspace.com/fairherald .
- Northern Express - Northern Michigan's Largest Newsweekly


"Fair Herald - Artist Profile"

The general consensus among the female population is that if a guy is a musician, he automatically becomes twice as appealing. Put a guitar and microphone in front of any guy, and suddenly they are full-fledged hotties, capable of turning a group of girls into a hysterical mob (i.e. the Jonas Brothers).

Now that young men have gotten wind of this phenomenon, it seems every other guy you meet plays guitar. So, when hearing from a friend about “this freshman guy who’s in this really awesome band,” immediately a high school band pumping out power chords and break-up ballads comes to mind. But Fair Herald, a Chicago-based band of five endearing college freshman, breaks the mold with one simple refreshing characteristic — they actually have talent. In an interview with The Badger Herald, Sean Bacastow, bassist for Fair Herald and current UW student, gives an insight into the life of being in an up-and-coming band as well as a college freshman.

“I got my first guitar when I was 11 for my birthday and, ever since then, I just kind of started picking up other instruments. I liked how music sounded, but I wasn’t avid about music or anything. One day, I just wanted a guitar. It was completely random,” Bacastow remembers. It wasn’t until his freshman year at St. Ignatius College Prep that he became a part of what is now Fair Herald. “I met them in gym class. First, I asked them if they needed a bassist, and we like to joke that they kind of blew me off, but a couple of weeks later they asked me to come out and jam with them. First day, we jammed, we recorded a couple songs, and it just worked.”

Four years later, the band still remains with Mike Kuntz on vocals and guitar, Mark Goldich on guitarist, Sean Bacastow on bass, Jimmy Bloniarz on keyboard and synth and Dave Brankin on drums and percussion.

Fair Herald’s sound, as described by Bacastow, is “roots rock with good pop-sensibilities,” which they consider to be “more traditional rock music that’s fun to listen to.” And there is no denying that Fair Herald’s music is fun. Their album, Familiar Streets, is composed of tracks reminiscent of REM, Ryan Adams and Neil Young, something everyone can appreciate. They have a surprisingly mature sound, but have the ability to fit right in on a college students’ playlist.

“We wrote half of the album in probably two weeks,” Bacastow said. “None of us have had it hard in life — we don’t have a ton of life experience. We’re college students. But everything we write is what affects us. Our lyrics aren’t cryptic.”

Fair Herald began like any other modest high school garage band. “We had this place called the Ashbary that we played. That’s kind of like where we started playing shows. We probably played there five or six times. We released our first EP there,” Bacastow said.

Soon they moved on to larger shows. Bacastow still remembers what he considers their first big booking. “First time we played at the Hideout, that was our first reputable venue.” Nervous? “Yeah, especially for that show because so many groups have played there, like Wilco, Andrew Bird, all these artists I looked up to. It’s just daunting when you’re high school juniors. You feel like there’s a lot to live up to,” he said.

Last Monday, Fair Herald played a show in Chicago at Schuba’s with Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson — the much-buzzed about artist from Brooklyn — and Hoot and Hellmouth. “That was probably the most fun show I’ve ever played. Meeting those guys — they were hilarious. You can probably meet the most interesting people in music out of any other field. One night of talking to someone, you can learn so much. Getting advice from them and being able to discuss what they do. … Honestly, we’re just getting into this, where we are taking music more seriously. There’s a level where you hit — you’re not professional, but you start making money, and we could go on tour and sustain ourselves, which is a cool thing, but you basically have to live broke so … I think for the most part, the only thing stopping us from doing that is expectations. But I think we all take it seriously enough to pursue it as a career.”

To add to their impressive repertoire, Fair Herald is a part of label Where Ends Meet Records. “It’s a collection of artists we’ve played with in the past — five or six bands are on it now. Basically, it’s an umbrella label, so that if one band gets some success, the other bands can benefit from it,” Bacastow explained.

When asked what living in Madison is like for a musician, Bacastow feels conflicted. “It’s an awesome place to see shows. There was a week early in the first semester where I saw four shows in six days. You can find a lot of good music to go see. But as far as getting the band down here, it’s been a struggle,” Bacastow said. “We play clubs in Chicago, bars — that kind of thing — and occasionally a venue like the Metro. But here in Madison, there’s not a good, midsized club. The closest that comes is High Noon Saloon, which is hard to book.”

Traveling between Madison and Chicago might seem intimidating as both student and musician, but Bacastow seems to have it under control. “Some kids play sports — it’s just like any other hobby. You have to balance your time and work around it. The only time it’s hard for me is having to go out of town. It’s tough to catch up,” he said. Although he may not know exactly what he wants to major in — it’s a toss up between English, journalism and environmental science — there is no doubt Fair Herald will remain a part of the Chicago music scene. Although the other band members attend University of Michigan, Fair Herald has not stopped playing shows and making music. “It’s a commitment you have to really stick to. We’re really passionate about the band — we knew that coming out of high school.”

Unfortunately, there won’t be any chances to catch Fair Herald live this semester.

“We’re taking off the rest of the school year — were actually off until June. July and August we’ll be doing a lot of shows, a lot of writing,” Bacastow said. There is good news. “We’re going to record in August. We’re doing a three-song demo.”

Even with immense potential and experience in the business, it’s not easy to make it big. “There’s so much white noise out there. You can find a thousand new bands on MySpace a day, I bet. And it’s like, with the technology, anyone can be an artist. You don’t have to be good. There are a lot of bands who completely have the songs and the talent to be something great, but there’s so much white noise to sift through, no one ever finds them,” Bacastow said.

If the amateur music scene is white noise, then Fair Herald is the distinct melody heard above the blaring, inarticulate nonsense. They are destined to capture the attention of classic rock aficionados, but not until they’ve aced their midterms. - The Badger Herald


Discography

Medicine Bow EP - Tracks featured on Ann Arbor's WCBN and Madison's WSUM

Familiar Streets LP - Tracks featured on Chicago's 93XRT (WXRT) and Q101 (WKQX)

Photos

Bio

Fair Herald set out in 2005 to reawaken the whiskey-tinged sounds of country-rockers Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks. By the time members Mike Kuntz (guitar/vocals), Mark Goldich (guitar/vocals), Sean Bacastow (bass/vocals), Jimmy Bloniarz (keyboards, various) and Dave Brankin (drums/percussion) headed for college three years later, the pack of high school classmates had found their way onto dozens of bills at bars throughout their native Chicago, impressing the regulars with their feverish live sets.

With 2009's Medicine Bow EP, the band's sound had evolved into a more modern (though ever unpolished and never too hip) take on pop songwriting, their live shows leaving a trail of half-hashed Whiskeytown and Velvet Underground covers scattered throughout the Midwest.

The band's accolades include airplay on major Chicago radio stations WXRT (93XRT) and WKQX (Q101), a bill at nearly every major music venue in the city, enthusiastic reviews of their live shows and recorded material from local and European press, and an ever-growing base of loyal fans.