This Friday, July 11, The 5 Spot will be hosting “Cory Chisel’s Soul Obscura,” an evening of musical exploration of the phenomenal catalog of soul music. Opening with Sarah Potenza and featuring Cory Chisel, joined by Reno Bo, Adriel Denae, Jeremy Fetzer, John Radford, Ashley Wilcoxson, and Laura Mayo, this night will resurrect “the lost and the rare” of this genre and celebrate the songs “that have been buried in the sands of time.”
I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting with Cory, and in the brief time I got to be around him and talk with him, I was enamored by his kind humility, distinct perspective and artistic opinions, and his willingness to create what beautifully exploits the human condition and experience. Born a preacher’s son, his musical roots were grounded in church hymns, later tended by an uncle that introduced him to the blues. And with these musical memories and influences to guide him, Chisel began to draw inspirations from the world, its people, and its sounds to begin the creative journey. “I’ve kind of always been the guy that doesn’t sing the right words to songs. But there is talent in mishearing.” By replicating and rewriting what he heard on the iconic records of Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, and others, he began to explore his ability and shed the shell of impersonation, transforming the music into a style of his own.
Even though Chisel’s music will not be heard during this show, his enigmatic edge will surely color the set. His usual collective, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, is often described as an Americana/Folk sound that definitely let a little Southern into the music, though Chisel would just say it’s “soulful.” The records have grit and truth, propelled by Chisel’s vocal nuances and lyrical essences that authenticate and narrate experiences that can be shared by many. His voice possesses a raw wisdom that emits such honest sounds of the soul, and it is timeless and still distinct and uniquely of himself. The music is also characterized by its harmonic dispositions, often exploring a range of timbres and contrasts, both vocally and instrumentally.
The collaborative structure of his music adds another layer of intimacy to the records and to his performances. Chisel works with a myriad of musicians and gives sincere credit to the people with whom he works. “I pretty much only work with people I’m insanely intimidated by, that’s sort of a rule. It makes you not complacent and puts the fear of god, lowercase “g,” in it. Art-making needs to be brave.” And he also gives credit to all these brave souls when discussing the songwriting process. “I create my art out of compulsion. It just has to come out…and I’m just responsible for it existing,” he proclaims, making sure to honor all the people, experiences, and processes that help mold his songs into their destined forms. “The music always belongs to the people who make it together,” and this way of creating will no doubt enrich Friday evening’s show. These incredible musicians will conspire to inspire by means of translating those rare songs from the legendary repertoire through modern renditions that will make you groove and take you back.
As Chisel describes, the show on Friday will be “musicians playing what they really love,” exhibiting a profound respect for the music that came before their own, while also allowing personal interpretations to accentuate the set. “These are the songs that deserve pretty girls dancing to them,” and they are the gems from the B-sides that Chisel still worships and adores today. The performance will consist only of these soulful covers realized by these talented musicians, making this performance an experience to be had. And that seems to be the point of it all: to experience, fully and wholly, all that is music and all that makes you feel and react.
See you at The Five Spot tomorrow at 9pm for an incredible time filled with good company and better music.