On the eve of the
Garden State Hip Hop and Makin Waves Summer Rap ‘n’ Rock Tour, Chalk and the
Beige Americans talk about hitting the road and entering the studio, while
sharing their soul-hop history.
Based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly, the soul-hop four-piece Chalk
and The Beige Americans owe much to the Trenton music scene. Saxophonist Ceilidh Madigan hails from the city, and
Mill Hill Basement, Trenton Social, and Art All Night all were instrumental in
growing their following beyond the City of Brotherly Love.
Having participated last summer in the
Makin Waves Summer Concert Series at Asbury Park Brewery with the Trenton Makes
Takeover, vocalist-guitarist David Mayers Jr., bassist Dave Kasper, drummer Richard
Breazzano, and Ceilidh (pronounced kale-lee) now are set for the Garden State Hip Hop and
Makin Waves Summer Rap ‘n’ Rock Tour from July 12 to 22 throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Chalk & TBA’s dates
on the rotating tour are July 12, Asbury Park Music Foundation; July 13, The
Fire, Philly; July 19, Mill Hill Basement, and July 21, Blackthorn, New
Brunswick. The tour also will feature fellow hip hop-oriented groove-rock bands
Green Knuckle Material and Switch Mob, rap group The Band Called FUSE, rap
collectives Black Suburbia Music Group and Chris Rockwell Collective, rappers
DBM, Mista Encore, Apollo Ali, and K-Prez, and DJs Ronny Rayz, and Rachel
Barkley also at FM Bar, Jersey City; Sunnyvale, Brooklyn, and Happy Mondays at
the Wonder Bar in Asbury.
After the tour, Chalk & TBA will
head into the studio to follow their 2014 LP, The Beige Album, including
such great new tunes as the riveting “America.” I spoke with the band about those plans, as well as
their history, in the following interview.
is in Chalk & the Beige Americans, what do they play, and what bands were
you all in before? Chalk, vocalist and
rhythm guitar, has been a solo act before. Dave Kasper of Sideshow Prophets,
Trace Fury, and currently Philly Reggae Band, joined in on bass. After a few
drummers, currently Rich Breazzano of Blue Hippo, Gringo Motel, and
several other acts solidified the group. And Ceilidh Madigan on sax; ex-The
Crypt Keeper Five and currently also playing with the Downright Down of Trenton.
How did Chalk &
TBA come together and when?
Chalk had been playing solo for a few years in
bar gigs around Fishtown when Dave recognized the talent and approached him to
form a group. They had a few drummers come and go, but Breezy (Rich Breazzano)
really helped nail down a style with his diverse background. Madigan was
playing a gig with The Cryptkeeper Five at Mill Hill Basement in Trenton, when
Chalk and the Beige Americans were also on the bill with then lead guitarist
Brad Carney, a mutual friend that knew of the band’s sound and suggested
Madigan sit in that night. No rehearsal or even having heard the music, he fit
right in and became an insta-member that night! Brad has since moved on to full-time
What are the band’s
connections to Jersey?
Ceilidh grew up in Jersey, and having met at
Mill Hill, we sort of became ‘complete’ there. TC Nelson of Trenton Social was
the first to give us regular monthly gigs and help us build a following in the
town that lead to funding our first record and playing Trenton’s premier events,
like Art All Night and the Levitt Amp concert series. We were recently
introduced to the Asbury Park music scene by you and are looking forward to
expanding there more.
How does hip hop
influence the band, and what other styles and what artists have inspired you
We all have a deep connection to the birth of
hip hop, and it shows in Chalk’s wordplay and the rhythm section’s dedication
to simple, catchy beats. Chalk frequently listens to Aesop Rock, and we all pay
homage to A Tribe Called Quest. Chalk loves Motown, and you can hear it in
his mix of word play and crooning melodies. Ceilidh comes from a
classical/jazz training background but also delved deep into Springsteen-style
Jersey rock ‘n’ roll with the CK5 and funk and soul classics, like James Brown
and The Meters, with Downright Down. We all listen to a spectrum of music, and
Chalk is always delving into what’s new on the scene.
What EPs and LPs have
you put out and when?
We have one LP released on Jawn Deli Records.
What is the status of
a follow-up single and/or record?
We are hitting the studio in August to begin
recording: New songs and old, with a new approach to a live, raw feel. We don’t
know what will end up on the eventual output but keep your ears open!
What are your
favorites of the forthcoming songs and why?
Picking a favorite song is like picking a
favorite child… and then having four parents fight over it (laughs). We
have some live sets on Soundcloud that feature some of our new material.
The Fourth of July
coincides with this interview. In light of that, do you have anything you would
like to say regarding the current direction of the nation, particularly in
regard to our freedom and independence, and do you have any songs that reflect those
We stay away from politics and social
commentary, although those themes do come out of Chalk’s head, since he’s
always synthesizing what’s happening around him. Madigan will blab for an hour
about his opinions, but who wants to hear that? Chalk speaks to the experience
we all have, while the rest of the world’s direction is forming, a sentiment
you can hear in our track ‘America’ to be released on the next album.
Why is networking
important for bands and how has that helped yours?
Networking…. that’s when, like, you plug
your computer into the TV box, right?
When was the last time
We have played gigs outside of Philly but have
yet to ‘tour’ in the true sense of the word. That’s, like, a lot of
What do you think of
the Rap ‘n’ Rock Tour and why?
We are really excited to expand our
territory and play for new audiences, and really like that we can help
introduce bands to ours. You have a vision, and we are signed on in full
support! The key phrase here is ‘scene synergy.’
You were booked to
play Art All Night the last three-plus years. Did you get to play last year?
Unfortunately, we were scheduled to play
Sunday, and AAN had been cancelled for obvious reasons. We’ve always been
blessed to play great time slots and have always felt the love from Trenton.
Madigan has a special love for the hard-fought music and arts scene in his
city, and though it wasn’t in its full glory on this return year, we know Art
All Night is an idea about community and love for creativity that will see its
return to being even bigger and better!
What else will Chalk
& the Beige Americans, and any solo or side projects, be up to through 2019
We are super excited to be delving into our next album and will
be promoting a crowd-funding effort for it on the IndieGoGo platform. Please
friend us on instagram (@chalkandtba) and Facebook (@Chalk and the
Beige Americans) to stay updated!
Is there anything I
didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?
Scenes survive because of not only the bands bringing their energy, but amazing promoters like you. Thank you for all you do!
For more about Chalk and the Beige Americans, visit chalkandthebeigeamericans.com.