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GREAT DIVIDE

Digital Images of Great Divide by Kurt Swanson and Soulful Impressions
E-Mail: kurtswanson@juno.com

Pop, rock, indie: no matter the genre, there’s a plasticity dominating today’s music world. Call it a “great divide” between what’s popular/buzzed about, and bands offering something more heartfelt. Providing that musical honesty: the aptly-monikered Great Divide, an honest-to-God rock’n’roll (or, perhaps, rock and soul) band full of passion, spontaneity and groove, as evidenced by their new, self-titled record.

Credit the Chicago band’s influences. They’ve got impeccable taste. “I’m a Bob Dylan junkie,” says GD’s Teddy Grossman, a Philly native. “And Stevie Wonder, The Band, Van Morrison, the whole history of Stax, Bill Withers… we hope that a line can be drawn from our music to those artists who shaped us as musicians and people.”

The group’s horn-inflected, soulful vibe has been a staple from day one, when a slightly different line-up of Great Divide formed in Ann Arbor, MI. “Even with some inevitable band changes and a little musical maturity, we’ve always gone for that sound and style,” says Grossman.

“That sound,” plus some tight musicianship and a live show that would, as Grossman says, “make you shake your ass,” helped GD develop a rather large local following. And as their popularity grew, so did their musical ambitions — enough so that the band decided to make a real go of it as a group, and relocate to Chicago.

That ambition didn’t end with the move. More live shows followed, as did an ever-increasing fanbase and, finally, a record. The band self-produced their debut (Reservoir) in 2010; while a remarkable achievement for a group still in its infancy, the guys in Great Divide were already looking beyond it. “That first record was a maturation process for us,” admits Grossman. “We thought: the next time we did an album, we wanted to do it the right way, really take some time, work with some talented people.”

When the time came to make that second album, the band stuck to their indie roots and funded it entirely via Kickstarter. The group also expanded their sound, bringing in a bevy of talented Chicago musicians behind the scenes. Helping out: producers Dan McMahon and Darren Garvey, two multi-instrumentalists and recent collaborators with the likes of Cory Chisel. Also lending a hand: James Auwarter, (Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Rihanna, John Legend, etc.), who was brought in to engineer the record, as well as recruit some gospel singers from the Chicago’s South Side. The final icing on the cake came from local brass-men dubbed, “HornBread,” part of an up and coming Chicago hip-hop/soul/jazz band called Sidewalk Chalk.

Recorded in four days at Third Ward Studios in Milwaukee, with follow-up sessions in Chicago and Rockford, IL, Great Divide is an ambitious affair, moving effortlessly from soul to pop to funk, all tied together by Grossman’s lyrical openness and his way with a hook. Highlights abound: “Moorie” finds the singer reflecting on an old woman he knew from Philly who had a “true light and presence.” A little 70s Cali pop and strong dual harmonies light up “Fast Train” (featuring up-and-coming Ann Arbor/Brooklyn musician Theo Katzman).

Meanwhile, the first single “Ain’t No Roads” provides a perfect overview of the group’s funk/soul/rock sound (horns, gospel choir, upbeat tempo), and “Autumn Leaves” features a real heft, both sonically and musically. “We definitely had some grandiose ambitions for that song,” says Grossman. “Adding strings, elevating the timbre of the chorus. It was a therapeutic song for me…just talking about a lady friend from the summer, and that relationship winding down as the weather turned cold.”

With the new record ready to go, the band plans to get back on the road, where GD’s rowdy live set has earned them a passionate following not only in their native Midwest, but also all along the East Coast. While their popularity continues to grow and new opportunities arise, the guys in Great Divide remain firmly grounded…yet always looking ahead.

“Me and all the guys in the band — we’ve wanted to do something like this our whole lives,” he says. “And we’ve devoted so much of ourselves to this record. We’re ready to take all that and go full speed ahead.”

Teddy Grossman – vox, guitar

Josh Teitelbaum – drums

Jeff Leibovich – keyboards

Josh Kahle – bass

Jeff Burke – guitar, vox

Website: http://www.greatdivideband.com
Jeff Leibovich
Jeff Leibovich
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Jeff Burke
Jeff Burke
Jeff Burke
Jeff Burke
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
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Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Teddy Grossman
Josh Kahle
Josh Kahle
Josh Teitelbaum
Josh Teitelbaum
Jeff Burke
Jeff Burke
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Great Divide
Great Divide