The Shams Band
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The Shams Band

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Americana Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""Like Dylan met Tweedy in a bathroom stall and no one was there to listen...until now"

Unexpected to festival organizers, the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival’s “Last Banjo Standing” play-in contest has been a hit. With over 75 bands entered and over 25,000 votes cast, it’s clear that the indie roots music scene is far from dormant. Midwest musicians, don’t fret, as there’s clearly no need to include a DJ Set in your repertoire to move the masses.
After 15 grueling days of viral voting and myspace pleas, the votes have been tallied and the festival organizers and artists have spoken. Picking out of the Top 5 vote-getters caused more duress than one could ever ask for, but…… Donnie Biggins, an unpolished and unapologetic singer/songwriter that swears by the inspiration provided by solitude and a Dylan poster, will be opening up the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival on the Main Stage this November.
Alongside an array of acts far more established and polished, Donnie sang like no one was listening and provided an artist bio that read like a journal entry you’d be embarrassed for your friends to read. While he’s surely not the first songwriter to pen a song about Barak Obama, he might be the first to avoid sounding contrived or trite in doing so.
So with a MySpace page void of videos showcasing his talents and a mere handful of public appearances under his belt, it’s hard to say what we can expect come November 22nd. But whatever Donnie has to say that day, you can count on the fact that he’ll mean it. - The Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival

"Listen: The Shams Band"

Listen: The Shams Band
By Justin Gerber on August 7th, 2009

Some bands take you places. Some may give you the sensation of being in another world. Others take you to heaven and hell.

Then there are those bands that place you comfortably inside a booth, at a bar about to close, struggling to polish off that bottle of beer filled with more backwash than straight-up alcohol. As you finish the drink, the band finishes their set, and you raise the empty bottle to pay tribute, maybe offering up a drunken “Whoo-hoo!”

Such sensations you may get when listening to The Shams Band, an outfit based out of the windy city of Chicago. Bandmates Donnie Biggins, Paul Gulyas, Doug Hill, and Brian Patterson create a blend of classic rock and Americana that appeals to music fans of all ages. They’ve only been together for about a year, though you wouldn’t be able to tell when listening to tracks on their MySpace page.

On their self-titled EP, their southern drawl-by-way-of-the-Midwest comes through in tracks like opener “Working Man”. Armed with the classic call-and-response chorus (“She said, ‘hey, man’ (she said, ‘hey, man’)”), and ooh-la-las, it’s a song whose structure seems inspired by The Faces and that other band Ron Wood is a part of. “Shelly” is an amalgamation of the Allman Brothers and Wilco’s “Airline to Heaven”. It would be hard to disappoint with that combination, and The Shams Band absolutely pull through.

“The Des Plaines River” is the comedown from the high of “Shelly”. It’s Spiritualized’s “Soul on Fire” sans orchestra, plus whiskey (and that “s” in “Des” is very pronounced). It rounds off a short-but-sweet EP that illustrates the strengths that The Shams Band offer: drunken anthems, revival music, and reflection. They’re “prisoners in the mud,” and hopefully they can keep enough of it on their shoes to bring into the studio for a proper album. - Consequence of Sound

"The Shams Band break out act of Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival"

There cannot be a more appropriate venue for the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues festival than the Congress Theater. The theater, constructed in 1926, combines the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles. Marble arches and domes, ornate chandeliers and gilded ceilings: the old styles became new during construction and over the years have evolved through deterioration and restoration. The theater looks and feels the way bluegrass and blues music sounds.

One expects airtight, rocking performances from headliners Béla Fleck & the Flecktones and Dr. Dog. Both bands delivered. The true joy of these festivals is in seeing bands that are just breaking, just arriving. These bands were playing the Pavilion stage, rocking the lobby and welcoming everyone to the festival.

The Shams Band—last year’s “Last Banjo Standing” winners—stepped up and supplied this year’s breakout performance. Their energy, passion and damn-good songwriting captured the crowd’s attention, set feet dancing, and triggered more than one sing-along.
The band features three songwriters, each with their own unique voice and style, each fitting perfectly alongside the other. The set opened with Donnie Biggins picking out the descending chord progression of “Shelly,” a folk song caught up in the contradictions of holding onto innocence while growing up.

Then comes the straight blues of bassist Brian Patterson’s “Pour Me a Drink.” This ode to not needing anything but a drink poured at the end of the day calls to mind The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” in the best of ways.

“In The Sun” is the first song we hear from electric guitarist Paul Gulyas, and it’s the first song that bucks description. It builds with calm and cool bass and drums—the snare echoing off the marble walls of the Congress Theater lobby—before it erupts into a climax of crashing electric chords and desperate vocals.

Unfortunately, the band had to cut two songs from the set list due to time constraints. Fortunately, they cut straight to the epic hymnal sing-along “The Des Plaines River,” replete with pleading harmonica lines, soaring solos, thumping drums, and a giant chorus.

The closer, “Working Man,” shows the band doing what it does best: trapezing the line between blues, country and folk music with lyrics that are both genuine and tongue-in-cheek and musical craftsmanship that is both classic and unique.

The Shams Band blend styles together into something new, while calling back to the classic forms they were born out of. They showed they belong in a venue like the Congress Theater, at a festival like the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues fest. It’d be no great surprise to see them on the main stage soon.

- - Matt David


Champagne (LP - 2010)
Lean Into Love
Single Man
We've Never Met
In The Sun
Train On Time
Blue Canal
City Swept Away
Pour Me A Drink

The Shams Band (EP - 2009)
Working Man
The Des Plaines River



Music is supposed to be fun, exciting, thought provoking and daring. On every live performance, The Shams Band makes sure that their audience leaves each event with a personal feeling of satisfaction. Drawing heavily on their Wilco, Stones, The Kinks, and Muddy Waters influences, singer/songwriters Biggins/Gulyas/Patterson create distinct, personal songs. Once united with the full group, the songs come to life, tell stories, and send audiences singing all the way home.
The Shams Band features three songwriters trapezing the line between blues, country, and folk music. They have opened for national touring acts, The Avett Brothers, Drive-By Truckers, Dawes, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Bela Fleck, Dr. Dog and David Grisman.

Chicago Festival Experience: 2008-2012 Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival, Do Division Street-Fest, Taste Of Chicago, Ribfest,

Chicago Venue Experience: Congress Theater, Lincoln Hall, Schubas, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, Double Door, Cubby Bear, FitzGerald's Nightclub, Windy City Live (ABC), WGN Midday News, WGN Radio 720, Abbey Pub, Goose Island, The Heartland Cafe

Midwest Cities: Milwaukee, WI Madison, WI, Appleton, WI, Stephens Point, WI, Minneapolis, MN, Dubuque, IA, Des Moines, IA, Davenport, IA, Bloomington, IN, Grand Rapids, MI, Livonia, MI, Akron, OH,