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Pinetop Seven
 
Are they a "No Depression" band or an avant-garde jazz ensemble? Throughout their four year existence, they've been a little bit of each... Core members include Darren Richard (a powerful vocalists as well as guitar/piano), the very capable Charles Kim (slide guitar/banjo/harmonium) -- an intellectual property lawyer during the day --, and the rollicking back-up of Tim Peterson, Gerald Dowd, Ryan Hembray, and Mike Krassner. (See our interview with Richard and Kim). Only Richard, Kim and Hembry currently remain in the band.

Kim and Richard met at Vanderbilt University in Nashville where both were psychology majors. They began playing together and agreed to move to Chicago.

The band released a new 7-song EP, entitled No Breath in the Bellows (Self-Help/Truckstop/Atavistic) on which Kim and Richard are joined by Hembry and Peterson returning on upright bass and accordion. The EP is a fine collection of Richard and Kim's minimalist, difficult-to-label, country-jazz-rock-folk music. It includes a darker, more brooding alternate take of "40 Watt Blub," one of the poppier tunes from their debut as well as "No Breath in the Bellows," from the soundtrack to the Peter Litsch film Dying to Leave the Country. The record ends with a great spoken-word over mellow guitar track, "Everywhere Below Him." The lyrics for the song are excerpted from the Norman Dubie poem, "In the Time of False Messiahs." The whole effort is mellow and at times almost quietly menacing, but fantastically conceived. It redefines the phrase "heart-wrenching beauty."

Their second, much-anticipated album Rigging the Toplights was released fall '98. Their latest, Bringing Home the Last Great Strike was released in late 2000. Their debut CD (recorded in the attic of their landlord's house) is self-titled

Kim recently wrote the incidental music for Theater Oobleck's Pinochet: A Carnival, which runs through May 15 at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church.

For more information, visit their website: www.pinetopseven.com

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