the august
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the august

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Americana Pop




"Country band returns home to play Lake County fests"

Nashville is home to many influential country stars. It's a place that can make or break a career.

That's why the suburban natives who make up the country/pop band The August decided to make Nashville their home base.

“We kind of fell into playing country,” says Wojtek Krupka, bassist and former resident of Lake Villa. “There's something about the story telling and the melodic style of country that we really like.”

Now the band is heading home to play the Antioch Band Shell on July 26 and the Lake County Fair in Grayslake the next day.

“We like to come back to play around Chicago every three or four months to play for our main fan base,” Krupka says.

Also part of The August are drummer and fellow Lake Villa native Tim Good, lead singer Jacky Dustin of Arlington Heights and Cameron Clarke, who signed on in Nashville.

The original three suburbanites have played together in different forms since high school, but it wasn't until 2006 when they came together to form The August. Krupka says they share similar goals.

“We had that drive, that passion for music inside us, and that's what brought us together,” he explains.

Early on, Good and Krupka worked as substitute teachers in Lake Villa and Antioch to make ends meet, with a music career as their ultimate dream.

“Music is always what I've wanted to do, and that's why I decided to be a substitute teacher,” Krupka says. “I could teach when I had time between gigs and then stop when I needed to play.”

In 2009, at the advice of a producer, the band headed to Nashville to compete with hundreds of other acts trying to get a piece of the country music pie.

“It was awesome to be closer to the music scene,” Krupka says. “We love Chicago but in Nashville everyone knows someone in the music business.”

The band has recorded two albums: “The Uptown Sessions” and “Dear Chicago, Love Nashville.” They have another in the works.

The August was invited to compete in the first Greenbrier Resort's Got Country Class competition in West Virginia this past April. They ended up placing first out of hundreds of contestants.

Winning the national competition reinforced the band's decision to move to Nashville.

“It was a humbling experience,” says Krupka. “We got to compete out there against so many acts, we thought we'd end up in second or third place behind some really good bands.”

The win earned the band $5,000 and the chance to open for Toby Keith and Lionel Richie at the Greenbrier Classic on the Fourth of July.

“It was amazing — the biggest concert we've ever played, the biggest I've even been to,” Krupka says. “We got to hang out with Lionel and Toby after the show; they're both super cool and down to earth.”

- Daily Herald

"2011 Year in Review and Top Ten"

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

Jacky Dustin has one strong Country voice, this Chicago band has been down here chasing their Country music dreams for a little while, not waiting to get signed, they put this great piece of Country rockin’ song cycle out themselves. Big labels, in their search for solos and doubles, have so far overlooked this great band. What’s wrong with a great band that writes their own songs about cranking The Rolling Stones and talking about where they came from? This is not a one trick pony going from the double-time “We Write Our Songs” to the getting more than you bargained for sultry “Love Me Like A Stranger,” this is probably the best “unsigned” country band in Nashville. - The Nashville Bridge

"The August with Jacky Dustin: Sweet Emotion at Douglas Corner"

I am not going to let dust settle on this one; The August with Jacky Dustin is a force to be reckoned with. I know some of you Industry types on Music Row check this site. Peel open The August’ new CD, Dear Chicago Love Nashville! Jacky is where country should be at with her Tammy Wynette meets Tina Turner twang soul vocals, she is original and should be the voice of Country today.

The August not only went through their eclectic mix of country meets the windy city with tracks “We Write our Songs’ to “Big Wheels” but went places that maybe only Elizabeth Cook might go on “Love Me Like A Stranger”. Strange brew indeed.
The audience was a demographic statistician’s nightmare, because their audience cannot be pegged. Everybody was there to hear a different angle of the Nashville Machine’s voice of tomorrow. I like to be right. Jacky should be light years from Douglas Corner Café.

She is not an auto-tuned twangster; she is the real deal with incredible strength, presence and drive.

Not to be outdone, Wojtek Krupka, on Bass at the gig, played an even more important role on the CD, handling background vocals like Michael Anthony on Van Halen’s best, a real key to the group sound.
The August brings a little Funk, Blues and Rock and Roll to the tight small band ala Martina McBride and The Ride. When you throw two covers into the mix like “Never Been to Spain” and the Kris Kristofferson penned “Me and Bobby McGhee” and you own it on your own terms and not Pearl’s pedigree, there is something in the way she moves.

I didn’t note who was playing guitar, as there were three guitarists outside the band on the album and none were in the group picture on the CD. Let’s just say he was Telecasterin’ through a Dr. Z but was definitely more Mike Campbell then Brent Mason.

This is a band to watch. A new Outlaw Country. This is not Texas Charts or Nashville West, this is The Nashville Windy City Sound. I’m a believer. It is easy to be jaded in Music City with so many girls moving here all the time that are really good.

It would be easy to dismiss the fact that this was a club gig, but truth be told, if Jacky and The August were out opening for Gretchen Wilson, Jamey Johnson or The Rolling Stones a lot more people would know their Chicago meets American roots sound.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN
- The Nashville Bridge

"CMJ Review"

"The August are a breezy, unsigned country-rock band from Chicago … their smart, catchy confessionals will surely appeal to fans of the Band as much as Jack Johnson and Neko Case." - CMJ

"this impressive full-length album debut"

"this impressive full-length album debut … an often-beautiful collection of songs, with plenty of exquisite musicianship from the group and from guest players … Heartfelt lyrics, soul-tinged vocals and solid instrumentation from a talented new band."

- Maverick Magazine (United Kingdom)

"folk-rock that porch rockers could groove to"

"The August plays folk-rock that porch rockers could groove to. An easy on the ear sound married to coasting melodies is just what the doctor ordered. It’s not everything you might expect out of a young group but it’s a whole lot that you might want."
- Smother Magazine

"August turns dating maladies into some bittersweet melodies"

With the title of its debut album, "Thistle, Sparrow and the Tall, Tall Grass" (Yellow Horse Music) and its press photo--a picture of the dirt-caked band members toiling on a melon farm--the August seems happily out-of-touch with city life. The music, a breezy brand of melodic country, reflects these naturalistic roots, with its collection of casually swinging tunes.

Yet the laid-back nature of the songs masks their somewhat difficult origins. Nearly every one of the album's dozen tracks revels in heartbreak and longing--the offspring of an ongoing relationship between female lead singer Jacky Dustin and guitarist Wojtek Krupka, who share songwriting duties in the band. The pair is currently dating, but a trial separation prior to the start of recording sessions earlier this year created a sense of doubt that drives tracks such as "Heartbreak On My Palm" and "On Your Way to Gone."

"I didn't know what was going to happen," says Krupka, who has been seeing Dustin for nearly two years. "We were on a `break' for a little over a month. I think a lot of it was the stress of making this album."

The temporary split didn't affect the band's recording schedule; Krupka notes that the quartet was back in bassist Petey Kapp's home studio the day after the couple parted ways. "We didn't want it to affect the way the band worked," continues Krupka. "I think it was almost two weeks before Petey knew we had broken up."

Charlie Piper, who assisted in recording the album, says that though there was some tension, the band members were able to channel that pain into something constructive. "And how cool is that?" asks Piper. "The band really just clicks. They like and respect each other. And I really believe they have something to say."

Both Piper and Krupka note that in many ways the recording process was therapeutic for the band ("A guitar is cheaper than a psychiatrist," jokes Krupka), though the breakup wasn't the sole lyrical inspiration. "Gatsby," which struggles with questions of identity, takes its name from the F. Scott Fitzgerald character. The literary reference is likely an extension of the band members' day jobs. Three of the players--Krupka, Dustin and drummer Tim Good--are substitute teachers, while Kapp works part-time at a paper factory, in addition to running his studio, Decibel Recordings, in far north suburban Antioch.

In addition, Kapp, whom Dustin describes as "the smallest band member" is also a world-class arm wrestler, competing for the South African national team--and at one time ranking as high as number 2 in the world in his weight class, though a shoulder injury prevented him from competing this year.

This interesting collection of personalities began gelling as a band about 18 months ago while playing regular gigs at the J&L Club in north suburban Lake Villa, an off-the-beaten-path polka joint that served as something of a training ground.

"The house band is a polka band, Jack and the Continentals, and we used to play at their intermissions," says Krupka. "But the guys in the band are so old that when they take an intermission they don't come back. They just go home."

With this early audience of grizzled, pool-cue wielding polka devotees, the band wasn't at all intimidated when it began playing to Chicago audiences, first at the Abbey Pub and later in a monthlong residency at Underground Lounge.

"Those Mondays [at Underground Lounge] were big for our sound," says Dustin. "We would be playing for like three people--a bartender and a couple stragglers--but it really helped the songs become what they were supposed to be."

The August, 8 p.m. Sunday, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave. Sold out; 773-525-2508. - Chicago Tribune

"The August: Non-country country music"

The August must’ve been at least a little nervous.

After all, they’d been waiting their turn at the World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville, the little tavern where Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Dolly Parton got their start – and they were next on stage.

But nervous isn't the August's style.

A group of newly formed friends from the ’burbs, the August were there to prove their indie chops against some the most aspiring country singers in the business – at least the ones brave enough to get up in front of an open mic at Tootsies. It’s a risky affair for anyone: At a country landmark like this, if the crowd doesn’t like your twang, they’ll throw you off stage mid-song.

But there was another problem. The August isn’t actually a country band. Not really.

“In the Chicago scene here we’re country,” August singer Jacky Dustin says. “But in Nashville, we’re not.”

They’re also aren’t solo artists, something that a place like Tootsies, home of prodigious singer/songwriters, isn’t used to. But the August were in town to play a local college show, so they tried. And three songs in – the longest set Tootsies allows at their open mic – they were a hit.

A year later, the August is on their way back to the World Famous Tootsies for a full set of their own. The show comes a week before their sold-out CD release party at Schuba’s on Dec. 10 where they'll release "Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass," a disc likely targeted to a throng of lingering Wilco fans waiting for the next big folk sound to take off – something the August is well prepared for and creatively inclined enough to attempt.

Still, as they sit here together at Artemis Restaurant in Mount Prospect, they collectively – and humbly – agree the August is still learning how to navigate the long path to travel before “making it.” They’re still not a country band (“We’re alt. country,” guitarist Wojtek Krupka says), but to a city and suburban community of rock lovers and metal heads, “country” is a label, they agree, to be reckoned with.

“Is it hard to get around the metal-core, cover band, indie thing?” Dustin says. “Well since (that market is) over-saturated, maybe it is a good thing we came in.”

Listening to the August is like listening to old Johnny Cash tunes on modern radio: The sound is nostalgic-country complete with its own special twang, but it carries with it a folksy storytelling value that contemporary mainstream rock can’t maintain, aside from that of maybe Sufjan Stevens or Andrew Bird. It could be just what Chicago needs -- or doesn’t know it wants.

The August formed simply enough, through several rounds of transitions with different musicians and various sounds until the August as it is now melded together a year ago in bassist Petey Kapp’s basement recording studio.

They’re an unlikely – and abundantly talented – cast of characters: two young substitute teachers from the suburbs (Krupka and drummer Tim Good), another substitute teacher and former jingle singer (Dustin – you may recognize her voice from local McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” and Nair “Short shorts” commercial jingles) and the world’s No. 2-ranked arm wrestler champion as of two years ago.

“Petey, show her the forearm,” Krupka says across the table, excited and smiling. “Show her the forearm.”

Kapp looks thoroughly embarrassed. He really did hold the world’s No. 2 record two years ago, but as an accomplished musician and studio engineer, it's a title he doesn't mind hiding at the music table. Originally from South Africa, Kapp hasplayed forms of music from all over the world. But in most cases, he hasn’t been inspired by any of it – until now. “He’s a human jukebox,” Krupka says.

Kapp glances at his bandmates and decides to give in, saying he would’ve retained his No. 2 title, too, had he not injured his arm this year. “I will come back next year to become the world champion,” he says, blushing. He flexes his arm, and the table erupts.

“He could balance this table on his chin!” Dustin says.

Dustin, an inspired vocalist for as long as she can remember, has a tale all her own. Straight out of the jingle business, she’s accustomed to making big sounds in a hurry, quick bursts with a bunch. It’s an art form she doesn’t necessarily appreciate in her own singing. So when Krupka, Good and Kapp came to her more than a year ago with ideas for steady tempos, broken down rhythms and calculated progression, she was home.

“When these guys played their stuff for me,” Dustin says, “I thought I can do this; I like this.”

Truth be told, the August is a magnetic bunch of musicians, brimming with stories about singing at age 3 with Madonna’s “True Blue” (Dustin) and being the descendent of an Arctic, possibly Amish, fisherman (Good). Thankfully for new fans, their music is just as interesting. The slow, winding crescendos from “Outside,” a brassy, breezy anthem off their new album “Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass,” screams experience as much as it does patience with an art that’s still evolving in rock circles throughout the Midwest.

“It’s the American roots,” Good says, half explaining their Americana genre title, part identifying the band’s personal origins. “It all comes down to our own experiences.”

This summer during their set at the Taste of Chicago, the August handed out hundreds of free CDs to anyone who wanted to listen. A few months – and in some cases, weeks – later, new fans started popping up at shows.

“They’re starting to sing along, and we don’t even have a CD out yet,” Krupka says. “This one guy’s been to so many shows that it’s easier to count the shows he hasn’t been too.”

“It’s not just kids without jobs,” Good says.

Indeed, the August’s fan base spans generations, attracting age groups, as Kapp says, “from college to almost dead.”

“I don’t mean to sound funny,” he says, “but really old people like our stuff too.”

And families and next door neighbors. And the World Famous Tootsies, they like it too. As the August drives back to Tennessee for their Tootsies debut, they’ll be looking forward to their big upcoming release (thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, four studios and a broken bone, Krupka will tell you). They’ll also be remembering their time not long ago at Tootsies, as the only alt. country band in the room that night, spreading their gospel and collecting parishioners: non-country country music ain’t bad.

“Every song can be country if you strip it down enough,” Krupka says.

- Daily Herald (Beep Central)


Dear Chicago, Love Nashville (2011)
The Uptown Sessions (2007)
Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass (2006)
Aware 11: the Compilation (Aware Records 2005)



The august are clearing their own path of music that runs between American roots and American pop music. Determined in their approach to define a strong musical identity, the august put on a charging live show that is reminiscent of 70s era country rock infused with the pop sensibilities of today.
Led by the soulful vocals of Jacky Dustin, drummer Tim Good and bassist/guitarist Wojtek Krupka, these three strong willed musicians desire to leave an indelible mark on each listener they come across.
It is their collection of musical personalities that renders itself into their identity as the august: Jacky’s sweet-tooth for Mariah coupled with a fascination of Janis Joplin, Wojtek’s affection for all things quirky and anything Neil Young, (besides that Tron album), and Tim’s quest within himself to find the backbeat of ‘The Big Pink.’
Yet, all three members share a relentless and uncompromising love of music and the music they play together. It is indicative in their uprooting from hometown Chicago to Nashville where they made the leap to further focus on a life of music, away from the comforts of friends and family.
Their diligence proved successful and the band found their work to be more sophisticated in arrangement and much leaner lyrically without sacrificing content. They also embraced their ranging musical choices as a creation of their own sound. As a result, established industry songwriters and producers took notice, becoming believers of a group that display a resilience and passion behind their music.
Now well-endowed with stronger songs, swagger and a confidence in what is different may not be so bad, the august believe it’s time to present their sound, once again, to those willing to listen.
the august is a band to watch and a band to follow.