Mr. Blotto - Live at The Leaf $15 Doors 8PM
Time & Location
About The Event
Mr. Blotto was formed in 1991 as an off-night musical vehicle for its members, who were then playing in different projects. After a brief run as an opening act, the word about Mr. Blotto began to spread. The members left their other bands and found themselves in the enviable position of playing the music that they most enjoyed to packed houses. In response to repeated fan requests for tapes of shows and the surprise popularity of a series of bootlegs, Mr. Blotto released its debut CD, Parking Karma in August of 1992.
Parking Karma draws upon Mr. Blotto’s Blues and Country influences. It was popular to a degree that even shocked the band. Clubs began filling to capacity earlier in the night, and more owners and promoters called for bookings. The band began to play more and bigger venues. A fifth member was added to play keyboards, specifically the Hammond B-3 Organ.
This busy playing schedule and added sonic dimension led to the release in July of 1994 of the second CD, Bad Hair Day. Propelled by constant jukebox and radio play the CD propelled the band to new heights. The band could now headline large clubs and theaters on consecutive nights. Moreover, they could do it without repeating a song. This led to legendary weekend-long engagements. It also introduced the band to “tapers”.
Early on, Mr. Blotto began archiving their performances by taping each show from their soundboard. Tapers heard these tapes, and began to copy them and make their own recordings of the group for themselves. Before long, Mr. Blotto tapes were crossing the nation.
In July of 1998 came the release of the third CD, Ancient Face. This album continued the musical development of the band. Its 13 songs retain the original Blues and Folk influences and take the instrumental solos even further.
Response was wildly positive. Fans were pleased by the song selection and impressed by the performances. With over 20,000 CDs sold, the biggest unsigned band in America continued on its musical journey.
1999 brought the first major lineup change to the band. Mark Hague stepped in to play his provocative Lead Guitar. With this alteration, a number of changes began to take place.
The most immediate change was that the band began to spend more time on the Road. Mr. Blotto tore through the South and began to hit Colorado on a regular basis, building up a loyal fan base in each area. The band spent more time playing Colleges as well, cultivating the next generation of the Faithful.
More significant, however, was the experimental nature that Hague inspired. While the band retained its tightness, predictability went out the window. Longtime fans were impressed, and newbies flocked. Requests for a Live release swelled.
The band responded by instituting the "Bootleg" and "Just Did It" Series of CD's. The "Bootleg Series" is a collection of interesting versions of songs unique in some way. This might be anything from an exceptional solo passage to the addition of a horn section or guest musician. The "Just Did It" series deals with recent shows released in their entirety.
October of 2001 brought the release of Cabbages and Kings, the first Studio CD with the new lineup. Paul Emmett wrote that...
"...'Cabbages' itself is a delectable collection of the band's latest song writing efforts that ranges from the funktafied, groovin" shuffle of "Keepin it Up", to the rollicking-fun country twang of "Nebraska". Throw in the stretched out jams of songs like "1977", and the Monday morning anthem "Workin for the Man", and you have yourself an album that can stand up to, if not blow away, most efforts put out by similar bands on a national level."
from "Rock Show Review: Mr. Blotto @ the Vic Theatre" Publicity Whore Magazine
Clocking in at a hearty 73:57, it is full of the music that Blotto fans have come to crave. Its release was heralded on WXRT's Local Anesthetic with host Richard Milne remarking that it was the Band's best release yet and that anyone who had not yet seen the Band needed to make a point to do so.
2004 saw the band release Bad Hair Decade, described by the band as "LIVE versions of the songs from the Bad Hair Day CD and a few studio remakes as well. See what 10 years can bring".
Nick Hutchinson wrote about Bad Hair Decade:
"While relatively unknown outside of the Windy City, the blokes from Mr. Blotto have been playing rootsy good-times music for quite some time now. This release (a follow up to the band's 1994 Bad Hair Day) features more recently recorded live versions of a heap of longstanding originals by these venerable Chicago jamsters. Let it be noted that Blotto can play your favorite Phish, Widepread Panic, Dead, Traffic (et at.) covers with scads of soul and proficiency. But in addition to being able to rock the time-tested jukebox stuff the Blotto kitchen serves up its own tasty fare, and that's precisely what's on the Bad Hair Day menu. From the groove-heavy shuffling of "Dirty Woman" to the almost radio-friendly and hooky "Kiss Me in the Morning", the group evokes the gravelly vocal stylings of Widespread Panic, the bluesy southern guitar strains of the Allman Brothers, the clear as crystal licks of Captain Trips Garcia and mucho more, all the while bearing the unique stamp of pure clean Blotto. Add rollicking gospel-inflected numbers like "Rock Me in Your Arms" and "Standing in the House", and you've got one hell of a well-rounded outfit more than capable of putting down the appropriate soundtrack for a fun night out." Nick Hutchinson - Associated Content.
In 2005 the lineup of the band changed when during the year the band introduced a new drummer, Tony Dellumo. The year saw the band continue it's hectic regional schedule whilst expanding it's horizons with shows in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota and more. All this, while continuing to work on the material that would form the basis of their next CD.
The last show of the year (New Years' Eve) saw the final full-time performance by David "B3" Allen with the band. Much to the delight of the fans, David continues to make cameo appearances with the band from time to time.
2006 saw the introduction of Steve Ball on B3, vocals and keys. It also saw the band continue it's busy regional schedule while continuing to expand it's horizons with "Carpet Bomb Tours" to Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and more. All the while, still continuing to work on their next CD.
October of 2006 saw the much awaited "Official Release Party" of the bands 5th studio CD. This CD was written in collaboration with John Perry Barlow (lyricist for the Grateful Dead) and received much critical acclaim.
John Metzger wrote:
"Performing in neighborhood bars can be a thankless job, but for the past 16 years, Mr. Blotto consistently has won over audiences throughout the greater Chicago area by mixing original tunes with an astoundingly lengthy list of cover songs in order to create a sterling soundtrack for a night on the town. Had it opted to tour the country, the ensemble likely would be better known outside the region, particularly within the circles that typically are frequented by jam band addicts. By its own choice, the group humbly has opted to balance family life with career aspirations, thus remaining firmly planted within the Windy City. Its latest effort Barlow Shanghai, however, just might be the thing that forces the band’s members to leave the cozy confines of their homes. Simply put, with the help of former Grateful Dead lyricist John Barlow, Mr. Blotto has made its biggest statement to date, one which ought to inject a bit of perspective into the improvisational rock scene.
Throughout Barlow Shanghai, Mr. Blotto effectively uses the many touchstones of its repertoire as a foundation for seamlessly blurring the line between past and present, and the result is that it brings together multiple generations via its journey across the vast landscape of rock ’n‘ roll’s rich heritage. Evangeline, for example, may be deeply indebted to both Ray Charles and Billy Joel, but it also is touched by the southern blues of the Allman Brothers Band as well as by the sort of spiraling, space-born gleams of light that Jerry Garcia once shot across the heavens. Elsewhere, Mr. Blotto fuels That’s What I Said by slamming Phish’s Down with Disease into the heady, guitar-driven blissfulness of moe., while Organ Grinder laces Blues Traveler’s driving funk with the spiritual essence of the Grateful Dead. Granted, Barlow Shanghai isn’t a groundbreaking affair, nor is it the type of outing that will send a series of seismic shockwaves rolling through the blogosphere. Nevertheless, the maturity of Mr. Blotto’s approach has produced a smartly conceived endeavor that succeeds in ways that most of the efforts concocted by those currently working the jam band and indie rock oeuvres don’t." John Metzger - The Music Box
I am winding up the same place I began
And now it seems at last I understand
So when I die at least I'll know the way
The water rose, the water fell
And in the end it's just as well
Since everything that happens is a wave...
J.P. Barlow, P. Bolger
2007 saw the release of the band's first Official DVD. This DVD was "shot" in a 5 camera shoot at Blottopia VII, the bands annual festival held in July of each year. Reaction to this DVD was overwhelming as it showed one the bands "strengths" in performing in an outdoor concert environment.
Also during May of 2007, the band was chosen as Jambands.com's (Relix Magazine) New Groove of the Month and was featured on their website during May and June of 2007.
The band continued it's hectic regional schedule while doing "Carpet Bomb Tours" to 10000 Lakes in Minnesota, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Ohio, Colorado, Iowa and more.
The long awaited sixth CD from the band came in 2013.
Named “THREAD”, it has 14 new songs:
Here We Are is a many pieced puzzle that keeps unravelling as it goes, like this AND like that. It’s anthem shout at the end is, “Here we are, a rock and roll and stoner soul convention, if you fall, at least I hope you’re falling our direction…”
Next is Getting It On which is a day in the life as told from a dog’s point of view, or we should say dawg.
Try Me is a lost in life kind of plaintive voice with a shot of redemption at the end of each verse and a really fun tail out mixing up time signatures at the end, which was discovered by the boys in the studio in the moments just before recording it.
Peter Today is an homage to the Wailing Wailers aka Peter Tosh, Bob “Nesta” Marley and Bunny Livingston. Each of them gets their own verse and the fourth verses is their collective story. Fun to record. This is Jah Son’s favorite MRB track (he’s on it playing percussion). And the voice at the top is paul through an octaver which dropped his Irish tenor down in to a Jamaican baritone for the phrase given to him by Dan Steinman (sound engineer) “Dis One’s the real boss…”
Next is Big Enough, a tale of a small town dude trapped by life, marriage and booze, a lethal combo to be sure. In the end, he declares the “hole in my soul” turns into “a hole in the ground, that’s calling me back”.
King of Bavaria is a chorus Paul woke up from a dream with. In his dream it was Peter Gabriel singing the title gruffly, just as it appears on the CD. Within a day or two Paul was driving down Ashland and was a red light and a bum asked for change. Paul gave him the change in the car door, 50 cents. The guy said “50 cents?” don’t you know there’s a war going on, asshole?” to which Paul replied “asshole?” and took his 50 cents back. The light turned green as while pulling away the guy said “don’t you know I’m the king of this area?”…so the song was written from King Asshole’s P.O.V. talking about his medication etc.
Solomon’s Gold is one of the few pointedly political lyrics from Chief and Paddy talking about the halcyon days before the Iraq invasion “the Fortress was strong, an allied, never be that way again, a fortune is gone, such a lie, it’s not gone it’s only changing hands”. It doesn’t matter if you are red or blue, that there’s true.
Paul and Mark share a vocal on Not For Me sung from the view of the under dog who has been eclipsed by a friend but without the usual schadenfreude desires. Mark chose an acoustic Alvarez at the last minute for the solo, very cool.
The other pseudo political song on the album is Temporary Night which laments the fact that bad characters seem to excel in politics (at least at the highest levels) but adds the hopeful word “temporary”. yes we are in the dark as it were, but that is not going to last, we will see the bright light of the Big Bang someday and become it, yes Lord.
Blottopia has it very own theme song now, Surreal Good Time. The lyrics take you right through the experience including the band “holding a big surprise”. What’ll it be this year? Every see that one chick working in the highway construction crew that’s strong and beautiful? So have we. But in this case she wasn’t that into boys, darn the luck.
Triolets make an appearance on this album too. Movement of the Wheel has three of them, well almost. The third verses break from strict triolet form in order to end the song. The middle verse has the line “one more wake could break the levee” which has it’s obvious meaning as a nautical hinderance of waves testing the meddle of a levee, but has the more personal meaning of having been to a friend’s wake and thinking that one more of these might break..us.
Nietzsche Stares into the abyss and it stared back. Not sure if that is a pure Chief line or part of literary wit. Either way, it seems to work in this song which has three distinct sections that all work together.
Lastly, Wilson’s Lament came about when the boys did “Gamehenge”(by Phish) as the big surprise and Paul thought, what if all the people in Gamehenge got Wilson wrong and he was just a lonely misunderstood guy who hung onto power because of fear of having to go home someday? This song endeavors to be the final song of “Gamehenge” in which a recently hanged Wilson is found to have this note in his pocket that begins,”maybe I’m not the monster you thought that I was…”
The arresting artwork on the album is by a truly gifted artist named Ann Mei whose work we found online.
We dedicate this album to our beautiful fallen comrades, Val Rios and Michael Volkening whose names are sung quietly somewhere on the album as our cosmic shout out to them every time the album is played. You’ll know where to listen if you think about it.