Sidewalk Chalk
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Sidewalk Chalk

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Apr
27
Sidewalk Chalk @ Harold Washington Cultural Center

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Jul
06
Sidewalk Chalk @ Sullivan Hall

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Jul
05
Sidewalk Chalk @ Shadow Lounge

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Music

Press


Sidewalk Chalk named the Most Outstanding Group at the 2012 Chicago Music Awards. - Martin's Interculture


Hip-hop music has changed considerably since its two-turntables-and-a-microphone beginnings. Although the classic DJ and rapper tradition will always be around, many hip-hop artists and bands are placing the music in a different context.

Two examples of hip-hop’s evolution can be found Saturday night at Constant Spring in Goshen.

Local favorites The B.E.A.T create their experimental sound live through loops and effects, while the eight-piece Chicago-based band Sidewalk Chalk consists of an MC, a singer, a keyboardist, a bass player, a drummer, a trumpet player, a trombonist and a tap dancer.

Having tap dancer Jumaane Taylor — the only Chicago native in Sidewalk Chalk — in the band might seem like a gimmick, but keyboardist Charlie Coffeen says he’s a vital part of their sound, adding percussive layers by dancing on an amplified platform.

“Jumaane acts as our DJ a little bit, you know, filling in the spaces and putting some flavor on top of the tracks,” Coffeen says. “Jumaane is so talented that it is so easy to treat him like another instrument. He is such an attentive listener and a brilliant improviser.”

Sidewalk Chalk formed in 2008 when Coffeen, MC Rico Sisney, singer Maggie Vagle, bassist Garrett McGinn and drummer Tyler Berg met at Columbia College in Chicago. They were all music students who started hanging out and playing music for fun.

“There wasn’t really a game plan,” Coffeen says. “As soon as we met up, it just made sense. We wrote a couple songs in a hurry and started playing some shows. We met up with Jumaane, the tap dancer, at a show. We hit it off with him and he came to a rehearsal. It was the same thing. We didn’t really think too much about it. It just worked.”

Taylor joined Sidewalk Chalk, and later trumpeter Sam Trump and trombone player David Ben-Porat were added to the group.

Sidewalk Chalk, named “Best Hip-Hop Act in Chicago of 2010” by the Chicago Reader, has fashioned an original sound by blending hip-hop with soul and jazz, as can be heard on its debut full-length album, “Corner Store.”

Coffeen says the band members knew from the beginning the way they wanted Sidewalk Chalk to sound, but it has grown organically since then.

“When we put together that lineup of people, just the rhythm section and Maggie and Rico, there was a little bit of an idea of the direction that we would go, just knowing what each person was interested in,” he says. “But the sound really has grown and developed without a real clear objective, which is cool. Many groups are brought together for a purpose and a sound that they are going for. But it is refreshing to let the music turn into whatever it is going to turn into and let it be what it is.”

“Corner Store” was released in March, but Coffeen says Sidewalk Chalk refuses to remain stagnant, noting that their live show has developed creatively beyond the music on the album. The band released a new song, “Deciduous,” on its website and Facebook page that shows its evolution.

“The sound that we have now is evolving,” Coffeen says. “We have never really been at a standstill. We are always writing new tunes that sound different from the old tunes. The live show always evolves. That is something that we are proud of. We keep things evolving all of the time.”

Sidewalk Chalk, nominated for “Best New Entertainer” and “Most Outstanding Band or Group” at the 2012 Chicago Music Awards, has one foot in the Chicago hip-hop scene and the other in the city’s jazz music circles, and Coffeen, who teaches a hip-hop history class at Columbia, sees that as the natural order of things.

“All of us are steeped in hip-hop’s roots,” he says. “We are all hip-hop-heads. But we are as much inspired by J Dilla as we are John Coltrane, Earth, Wind & Fire and Otis Redding, and the old-school funk. There is just something special about a live band onstage interacting with vocalists that you really can’t re-create with a DJ.” - South Bend Tribune


Sidewalk Chalk nominated for two 2012 Chicago Music Awards as "Best Group" and "Best New Act". - Martin's Interculture


"It’s hard to describe Sidewalk Chalk’s sound with any sort of brevity. The band fuses together hip-hop, soul and jazz without ever doing it the same way twice. They incorporate elements from old-school soul and jazz with a twist of modern, intelligent hip-hop. It only takes a few lines of lyrics to know this project is based on a foundation of careful and experienced song composition, borrowing elements from jazz and introducing them to fans of hip-hop, and vice versa. Bringing these musical worlds together is one of the things that I find so captivating about Sidewalk Chalk’s sound — you’re never quite sure which direction they’re going to take with a song or how it will balance, but it’s just so tightly composed and refined that you can’t help but dig it.
I saw this for myself June 5 at Sidewalk Chalk's Zoo Bar debut. They were competing with Jazz in June, dollar beers and half-dollar tacos on a Tuesday that those lucky enough to be at the Zoo have yet to forget.

When I walked into the Zoo Bar, I was only planning to say a quick “what’s up” to my brother and go home shortly after. Instead, I found myself intrigued by the sight of a brightly colored, graffiti-decorated bus parked out front on 14th Street and a woman I had never seen at the front door encouraging the runoff from Jazz in June to come in and see the show. After finding a seat, I sipped a beer and checked my phone, debating whether or not I would stay for a couple songs of the first band. Sidewalk Chalk set up on stage, which was cramped for the eight-piece band, but they immediately got the crowd’s attention when they warmed up their instruments by playing an excerpt from Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which started a few heads bobbing and a couple others rapping the lyrics to Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” (this might have been me).
The band's first song hit the crowd hard with a funky bass line followed by the immaculately structured flow of the band’s emcee, Rico Sisney, and Maggie Vagle's captivating, soulful vocals. By the end of their second song, almost everybody in the Zoo was right up by the stage with their hands in the air, and the crowd’s enthusiasm only grew with each song. I'd never seen more people hip-hop dancing at the Zoo Bar, and I was blown away. They kept the crowd’s attention every second of their set, continuing to play familiar hip-hop and soul tunes between their songs, including classics like Camp Lo’s “Luchini.” The crowd went crazy when the band incorporated tap-dancing from Jumaane Taylor, who added another layer of rhythm onto the already riveting beats being laid down by drummer Tyler Berg. The two blended their rhythms together to ensure stationary feet were nowhere to be found.
The band has been touring pretty much non-stop all summer, and trombonist David Ben-Porat says they’re excited to make it back to Lincoln.

“Lincoln was one of my favorite shows on the whole June leg of the tour,” Ben-Porat says. “I want to see that whole bar jumping again.”

Drummer Tyler Berg says they were impressed by the enthusiasm they found in Nebraska.

“If the rest of Nebraska is like Lincoln then I’m sold," he says. "The Zoo Bar was one of my favorite shows of the tour so far because y’all brought so much energy."

Charlie Coffeen, who plays keys in Sidewalk Chalk, says he wasn’t sure what to expect when first coming to Lincoln, but the city surprised him.

“Someone described the city as ‘a small town with a lot of heart,’ and that was spot-on," he says. "I have a lot of love for Lincoln.”

Sidewalk Chalk is definitely a band on the rise. Their relentless touring schedule has helped to steadily build their fan base, generating hoards of followers on their social media pages and no shortage of blog buzz. Coffeen believes touring is the most effective way to do this.

“Blogs, Twitter, good press — all of these things are awesome and helpful, but touring is still the most effective and fun way to expand your fan base,” he says. “We’ve played to a different crowd every night. We just want to play our music and if it doesn’t go over, it doesn’t go over, but so far the results have been really good.”

The band’s success can almost certainly be attributed not only to how well they interact and play off of the crowd, but also to how well they collaborate together creatively. Bassist Garrett McGinn says this band has given him an energy that he hasn’t felt in past musical ventures.

“I am proud of this band in a way that I can’t feel in most settings due to the fact that [in Sidewalk Chalk] I am creating my voice and supporting a familial force,” he says. “The energy we extend and that which we receive from our audiences has been so honest and reciprocal — it just feels right.” - The Daily Nebraskan


"It’s hard to describe Sidewalk Chalk’s sound with any sort of brevity. The band fuses together hip-hop, soul and jazz without ever doing it the same way twice. They incorporate elements from old-school soul and jazz with a twist of modern, intelligent hip-hop. It only takes a few lines of lyrics to know this project is based on a foundation of careful and experienced song composition, borrowing elements from jazz and introducing them to fans of hip-hop, and vice versa. Bringing these musical worlds together is one of the things that I find so captivating about Sidewalk Chalk’s sound — you’re never quite sure which direction they’re going to take with a song or how it will balance, but it’s just so tightly composed and refined that you can’t help but dig it.
I saw this for myself June 5 at Sidewalk Chalk's Zoo Bar debut. They were competing with Jazz in June, dollar beers and half-dollar tacos on a Tuesday that those lucky enough to be at the Zoo have yet to forget.

When I walked into the Zoo Bar, I was only planning to say a quick “what’s up” to my brother and go home shortly after. Instead, I found myself intrigued by the sight of a brightly colored, graffiti-decorated bus parked out front on 14th Street and a woman I had never seen at the front door encouraging the runoff from Jazz in June to come in and see the show. After finding a seat, I sipped a beer and checked my phone, debating whether or not I would stay for a couple songs of the first band. Sidewalk Chalk set up on stage, which was cramped for the eight-piece band, but they immediately got the crowd’s attention when they warmed up their instruments by playing an excerpt from Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which started a few heads bobbing and a couple others rapping the lyrics to Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” (this might have been me).
The band's first song hit the crowd hard with a funky bass line followed by the immaculately structured flow of the band’s emcee, Rico Sisney, and Maggie Vagle's captivating, soulful vocals. By the end of their second song, almost everybody in the Zoo was right up by the stage with their hands in the air, and the crowd’s enthusiasm only grew with each song. I'd never seen more people hip-hop dancing at the Zoo Bar, and I was blown away. They kept the crowd’s attention every second of their set, continuing to play familiar hip-hop and soul tunes between their songs, including classics like Camp Lo’s “Luchini.” The crowd went crazy when the band incorporated tap-dancing from Jumaane Taylor, who added another layer of rhythm onto the already riveting beats being laid down by drummer Tyler Berg. The two blended their rhythms together to ensure stationary feet were nowhere to be found.
The band has been touring pretty much non-stop all summer, and trombonist David Ben-Porat says they’re excited to make it back to Lincoln.

“Lincoln was one of my favorite shows on the whole June leg of the tour,” Ben-Porat says. “I want to see that whole bar jumping again.”

Drummer Tyler Berg says they were impressed by the enthusiasm they found in Nebraska.

“If the rest of Nebraska is like Lincoln then I’m sold," he says. "The Zoo Bar was one of my favorite shows of the tour so far because y’all brought so much energy."

Charlie Coffeen, who plays keys in Sidewalk Chalk, says he wasn’t sure what to expect when first coming to Lincoln, but the city surprised him.

“Someone described the city as ‘a small town with a lot of heart,’ and that was spot-on," he says. "I have a lot of love for Lincoln.”

Sidewalk Chalk is definitely a band on the rise. Their relentless touring schedule has helped to steadily build their fan base, generating hoards of followers on their social media pages and no shortage of blog buzz. Coffeen believes touring is the most effective way to do this.

“Blogs, Twitter, good press — all of these things are awesome and helpful, but touring is still the most effective and fun way to expand your fan base,” he says. “We’ve played to a different crowd every night. We just want to play our music and if it doesn’t go over, it doesn’t go over, but so far the results have been really good.”

The band’s success can almost certainly be attributed not only to how well they interact and play off of the crowd, but also to how well they collaborate together creatively. Bassist Garrett McGinn says this band has given him an energy that he hasn’t felt in past musical ventures.

“I am proud of this band in a way that I can’t feel in most settings due to the fact that [in Sidewalk Chalk] I am creating my voice and supporting a familial force,” he says. “The energy we extend and that which we receive from our audiences has been so honest and reciprocal — it just feels right.” - The Daily Nebraskan


"When we think of Chi-Town based hip hop, immediately the faces and rhymes of Common, Lupe Fiasco, Twista, Kid Sister and Mr. Kim Kardashian Kanye West come into focus. Yet the Windy City's tradition for churning out some of hip hop's most innovative continues to pulse as a whole new crop of kids on the block are moving in. Meet new neighbors Sidewalk Chalk, a multi-cultural octet who are anything but quiet as they bring the flows, the croons and the big brass to an electrifying high. Taking an eclectic approach to their sound, Sidewalk Chalk dispel all the neat little boxes that individuals like to place musicians in as their sound is a fruit salad of hip-hop, jazz, soul and a splash of funk -- so you can automatically conclude that there is a little something for everyone who decides to dig in.
Amateurs they are not as the band are a currently a hot live act that has graced the stage with the likes of SB faves such as De La Soul, J*DaVeY, Jazzanova and Questlove from The Roots.They also haven't wasted precious time as they released this year their wildly fun debut album, Corner Store, which was co-produced by Greg Magers, of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool fame. After hearing cuts like "Water Song" and the funky strut of "Plastic," I'm completely sold that this crew is bringing the heat, and that this is just the beginning for them. So extend the Tupperware and the pot roast, and welcome Sidewalk Chalk to the neighborhood!" - SoulBounce


"When we think of Chi-Town based hip hop, immediately the faces and rhymes of Common, Lupe Fiasco, Twista, Kid Sister and Mr. Kim Kardashian Kanye West come into focus. Yet the Windy City's tradition for churning out some of hip hop's most innovative continues to pulse as a whole new crop of kids on the block are moving in. Meet new neighbors Sidewalk Chalk, a multi-cultural octet who are anything but quiet as they bring the flows, the croons and the big brass to an electrifying high. Taking an eclectic approach to their sound, Sidewalk Chalk dispel all the neat little boxes that individuals like to place musicians in as their sound is a fruit salad of hip-hop, jazz, soul and a splash of funk -- so you can automatically conclude that there is a little something for everyone who decides to dig in.
Amateurs they are not as the band are a currently a hot live act that has graced the stage with the likes of SB faves such as De La Soul, J*DaVeY, Jazzanova and Questlove from The Roots.They also haven't wasted precious time as they released this year their wildly fun debut album, Corner Store, which was co-produced by Greg Magers, of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool fame. After hearing cuts like "Water Song" and the funky strut of "Plastic," I'm completely sold that this crew is bringing the heat, and that this is just the beginning for them. So extend the Tupperware and the pot roast, and welcome Sidewalk Chalk to the neighborhood!" - SoulBounce


"Sidewalk Chalk: Mixing elements of soul, jazz, and hip-hop, this eclectic group has a little bit of something for everyone. Sidewalk Chalk's sound is completely unlike anything else coming out of Chicago right now and the band prides itself on their exciting live show. Watch out for them as they set out on tour this summer to promote their latest release Corner Store." - Epitonic


"Sidewalk Chalk: Mixing elements of soul, jazz, and hip-hop, this eclectic group has a little bit of something for everyone. Sidewalk Chalk's sound is completely unlike anything else coming out of Chicago right now and the band prides itself on their exciting live show. Watch out for them as they set out on tour this summer to promote their latest release Corner Store." - Epitonic


Sidewalk Chalk named the Best Local Hip-Hop Artist of 2010 by the Chicago Reader - Chicago Reader


Sidewalk Chalk named the Best Local Hip-Hop Artist of 2010 by the Chicago Reader - Chicago Reader


Discography

Corner Store (2012)

Photos

Bio

There are many lessons that come from age and experience. When one discovers such a thing, there's an inherent need to broadcast it to the world. This is that. With an eclectic variety of ages and experiences, Chicago based musicians Sidewalk Chalk are a force to be reckoned with.

The emcee, singer, keyboard, bass, drummer, trumpet, trombone, and tap dancer are the evolution of Hip-Hop, Soul and Jazz superbly packaged into sounds that you've quite possibly never heard before. The legend Sam Cooke once sang, "Change is Gonna’ Come." Musically, change is already here. Upon the heels of the release of their debut full-length album, "Corner Store" (released 3/6/12 and co-produced with Greg Magers of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool), Sidewalk Chalk has already proven themselves worthy of a listen. They're sure to satisfy the cravings of anyone in love with music and hungry for something different.

Musicality, honesty, and intellect are becoming harder to find. Thankfully, Sidewalk Chalk's goal is to be heard by the world and inspire its inhabitants. Quickly on their way to becoming one of the most talented live bands of this generation, Sidewalk Chalk was named "Most Outstanding Group" at the 2012 Chicago Music Awards. The group's Emcee, Rico Sisney, represented Chicago at the 2012 World Expo in Shanghai, China. They've been featured on SoulBounce, Epitonic, 2dopeboyz, Rubyhornet, and Guest of a Guest Los Angeles. On top of that, Sidewalk Chalk has shared the stage with artists such as De La Soul, Hiatus Kaiyote, Action Bronson, Company of Thieves, Jean Grae, and ?uestlove of The Roots. Individually, members of the group have acted as musical director(s) for Brother Ali, toured with Jazzanova and played behind Buddy Guy and Talib Kweli.

So, wake up world and meet the rest of us at the "Corner Store". We'll be out front with Sidewalk Chalk.