Sonia Dada was born underground - smack in the churning heart of Chicago's Loop where songwriter Dan Pritzker stumbled out of a subway car and into a wall of gospel-drenched acappella harmonies one afternoon in the spring of 1990.
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Five years later the band is riding an express train bound for popular acclaim, two albums and several thousand road miles away from the Chicago Avenue subway stop where Sonia Dada's unique blend of rock, soul, and r&b first began to take shape.
With one internationally celebrated CD (SONIA DADA on Chameleon/ Elektra, re-released by Capricorn in January, 1995) already to its credit, the band continues its musical journey with the release of its self-produced second album A DAY AT THE BEACH, an album that's a milestone of just how far this young band has come since its auspicious beginning.
"When I heard them singing 'Jesus On The Mainline' in the subway, it was really compelling," recalls Pritzker of the 1990 encounter. "There was something magical in the raw emotion of their sound and the way their voices blended."
After several weeks of trying to bring the street corner harmonies of Delane, Hogan, and Scott to bear on several Pritzker-penned originals, a strange, fluid new sound began to develop in a tiny Chicago rehearsal space, fleshed out by the loose, improvisational instrumental work of Pritzker, the jazz-inflected drumming of Hank Guaglianone, keyboardist Chris "Hambone" Cameron, bassist Erik Scott, and guitarist Dave Resnik.
These sessions yielded material for their self-titled debut album in 1992. In addition to winning rave reviews domestically and spawning a 40-date U.S. tour as the opening act for Traffic, the disc soared to the top of the charts in Australia where the band sold out every concert date consolidating the success of the singles "You Ain't Thinking (About Me)," and "You Don't Treat Me No Good," which went triple-platinum and won the 1993 APRA award for Most Performed Song on Australian Radio.
A DAY AT THE BEACH picks up on the hybrid rock-soul-jazz-r&b groove laid down on SONIA DADA, spiking the mix with liberal doses of funk ("Planes & Satellites"), New Orleans shuffle ("Anna Lee") and gospel (the irresistible "Lay My Body Down"). The album's first single, "Screaming John," is a prime example of the band's ability to wrap an infectious memorable melody in layers of textured harmony-rich vocals and guitars. Lyrics and melodies come from Pritzker, who finds inspiration from sources as diverse as a walk through an area of Vancouver ("Lester's Methadone Clinic") and a quiet day of odd guitar tuning experimentation ("Amazing Jane" & "Wishing Tree"). And everywhere, everywhere, are the classic roots harmonies of Delane, Hogan, and Scott, which serve as the emotional thread to bind all of this wildly diverse music together.
"What we're making could simply be called American music," says Pritzker when asked to try to pin a label on Sonia Dada's genre-blending sound. "We're a bunch of diverse people - with wide-ranging musical backgrounds, and our music comes together like a sort of cross-country musical melting pot."
From a chance subway encounter to A DAY AT THE BEACH, Sonia Dada is your tour guide to a coast-to-coast, downtown-to-uptown musical experience that will soon have you wishing they gave out frequent listener awards at your local music emporium.
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