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Can Classical and Rock Music Ever Work Together? Yes, Says the Kopecky Family Band

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When is the last time you’ve heard a trombone solo in the middle of a rock song?  Such a moment occurs frequently with the Kopecky Family Band, a Nashville-based group that combines classical music with rock to create their unique sound.

The band is composed of unrelated (despite the group’s name) members Gabe The Kopecky Family Band(lead singer), Kelsey (lead singer), Steven (lead guitar), Corey (bass), Markus (cello), Benjamin (violin), and David (drums).  After forming in 2007, the Kopecky Family Band generated buzz playing local gigs, eventually releasing their debut EP, Embraces, in 2008.  Subsequently they performed at the 2010 SXSW Festival, where they were showcased as part of ASCAP’s notable bands to watch.  In between additional appearances at the CMJ and the Next Big Nashville Music Festivals they recorded their followup EP, The Disaster, working with Partners in Crime Russ Long and Chris Grainger (Wilco, Sixpence None the Richer).  Their music gained the attention of NPR’s All Songs Considered, where blogger Bob Boilen featured the group in his CMJ 2010 report. 

Next the Kopecky Family Band released Of Epic Proportions, an EP comprised of digital B-sides and rarities.  Even more than The Disaster, the album showcases their adventurous attitude toward music.  “Little Baby Sister,” a simple acoustic song featuring Gabe and Kelsey’s close harmonies, suggests a more intimate sound.  Then “Howlin’ at the Moon” changes the mood, its heavy beat accented by wailing violins.  The lead vocal slightly recalls Bono’s early ’80s work in its bare-bones style.  “Animal” adds a dimension of creepiness, with Kelsey’s Natalie Merchant-like voice exuding naked emotion.  “A Casualty” and “A Baby Sister” also contain quiet moments, a nice contrast to the harder rocking The Disaster.  

The Disaster contains interesting moments, such as the powerful bass line on “Stand Back” or the offbeat lyrics of “Birds” (“I’ve got a mouthful of birds to fly over your head/Sweep them under the rug”).  Perhaps the most immediately accessible track, “Lucky” showcase’s the group’s ability to create a full, rich sound combining rock and classical instruments.  The violin lends a mournful air while the bass and drums (along with the occasionally discordant guitar) illustrate Radiohead’s obvious influence on the Kopecky Family Band.  Finally, the EP’s title track best showcases the group’s ability to fuse classical and rock elements, the strings creating a lush background for Gabe and Kelsey’s clear, honest voices.

Those who believe classical and rock and roll can never meet in between should check out the Kopecky Family Band, a distinctive group that stands out for its ability to span different genres.  Currently touring, the band will play Schubas Tavern in Chicago on January 15, 2010 and at Off Broadway in St. Louis, MO on January 16, 2010.  For more information visit the Kopecky Family Band’s official site and MySpace Music page

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About Kit O'Toole