Flame Shark

Flame Shark

 Chicago, Illinois, USA

If Tom Petty were black and hooked up with air tight, slightly twisted Midwestern musicians. Swampy, yearning, blues laments, raw Americana and tumbling soul.


Comparable to: A more blues influenced Jayhawks, a trippier Tom Petty, a folkier Led Zeppelin, a more robust version of The Shins, a more polished Neil Young, a happier Elliott Smith, a darker Ben Kweller, a ballsier version of Dawes.

Chicago-based rock-n-roll (emphasis on the roll), soul and Americana band, Flame Shark had a full circle moment in the winter of 2009 while recording their fifth full length album. The quartet was hunkered down at Chicago's Engine Studios, birthplace of some fine music by Iron and Wine, Modest Mouse and Margot and the Nuclear So So's to drop a few names, when through what now seems like fate they hooked up with ex-Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford.

For fans of soulful, funky, yearning and weeping, blues influenced guitar playing and songwriting, Marc Ford is a touchstone player. His years with the Crowes yielded their finest albums, time on the road with Ben Harper and Booker T. Jones more than proved he is a soul brother through and through and now, he's lent his talents and vision to Flame Shark.

The band has certainly been around the block a time or two. Since 2005 they've toured the nation three times, sold about 1,500 records, recorded nine original videos, self-financed and produced five original albums, placed songs in TV shows (most notably NBC's "Quarterlife", which bombed after the debut episode, but oh well), played festivals, theaters, divebars, juke joints, road houses, closets, basements, BBQs, music stores, Boy Scout picnics, cafeterias and generally made the rounds while they've matured and continually nurtured their "confident, commanding, unique sound." (The Onion AV CLUB Madison, WI)

But, Marc Ford? For the band, who have been true fans of The Black Crowes since wee lads, to have Marc Ford sitting in the studio with them, playing on their album, it seemed like a dream come true. "I've been listening to him play for ten years and now he's played with us, such a beautiful moment for the band," said lead singer and guitar player Justin Jahnke. After Marc connected with the band, "I can recognize honest, real music when I hear it," said Marc about Flame Shark, he flew to Chicago and laid down some truly inspiring guitar work for their upcoming album "Farm Life."

The band ran with that inspiration and has since infused their live set with electric soul and blues power that had lurked below the surface, but has now fully reared its howling head. Their live shows are now emotional, soul satisfying pursuits, designed to go beyond simply playing tunes to a crowd. The foundation of their songs are built upon solid choruses and melodic hooks, which steers them in the direction of pop, but pop infused with honest soul and raw Americana.

"We are giving out so much emotion, so many different moods, we want the audience to feel what we feel and be apart of that sound," said keyboardist Rusty "LaRue" Lee. The band's murky, yet robust sound is primarily fronted by lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Justin Jahnke.

Born and bred in Shreveport, Louisiana, home of Elvis' first public performance and 12-string blues master Lead Belly, Justin's roots were planted firmly in country and blues. He grew up listening to the songs that surrounded him, absorbed a lot of ideas from music of the 50s and 60s, traditional and spiritual songs played on his grandmother's record player and subconsciously soaked up the soul that runs through this city divided fairly evenly among the white and black population. After a three year stint singing in boys choir, he picked up a guitar at 12, learned how to play "Johnny B. Goode", discovered Led Zeppelin and never looked back, except for a brief stint earning a degree in creative writing. He left Louisiana in February of 2005 and found the rest of the band in Madison, Wisconsin.

The rest (we would never say backing band!) of the band are a force to be reckoned with. All bred in the Midwest, the band is rock solid, tight, but not uptight and manages to work as one unified group, that can effortlessly run like a clydesdale, flutter like a butterfly, creep like a cougar or attack like a bear. All of the band members are songwriters and all contribute their own unique vocal styles.

Founding members, bassist/vocalist, Mike "Goldenwings" Meske and keyboardist/vocalist Rusty "LaRue" Lee have been with Justin since their humble beginnings playing as an acoustic three-piece in coffee shops and backyards. They've grown together and do see their time together as a journey. Watch their live show and you can tell they are friends off stage. "Actually, dear reader, we live together in a big house in Chicago, so we're roommates too," says LaRue. Drummer James Ratke spent time touring and performing with Chicago-based band Company of Thieves. After leaving Company of Thieves, citing creative and visionary differences, James moved to Los Angeles, but returned to fill the sweet spot left vacant after much loved Flame Shark drummer Doug G


EP "Release This, You Bloodsuckers!" (2006 Scrub Brush Media)
LP "Midnight On Pearl Beach" (2006 Scrub Brush Media)
EP "Vireo" (2007 Scrub Brush Media)
LP "Raw Flowers" (2009 Scrub Brush Media)
LP "Farm Life - Featuring Marc Ford" (2010 Scrub Brush Media)

We have many tracks streaming all over the internet. We've thrown them to the fishes and the fishes have taken the bait. A google search of Flame Shark does wonders.

Set List

A hand selected blend of our originals from our 5 albums + the covers that work best in the setting we're in. We can play for hours, play an intimate acoustic set, but we most enjoy doing a full-blown electric feast, which works well at festivals and outdoor concerts. Our recordings may go down easy, but our live show is much more of a rock-n-roll juggernaut.

Typical Covers:
I Shall Be Released (The Band/Bob Dylan)
Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin
These Arms of Mine (Otis Redding)
Spoonful (Howlin Wolf)
T Rex (Life's A Gas)
Golden Age (Beck)
The Man In Me (Bob Dylan)

Artists we have covered: Neil Young, Ween, Air, The Fugees, Beck, Radiohead, MGMT, The Funky Bunch, Dolly Parton, Albert King, Johnny Cash, etc. etc.