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In the on-going Singer-Songwriter Spotlight Series, we have a backlog of musicians to present to you in the coming weeks, with more new talent coming in all of the time. Most of the artists we feature are those who have sent their music in hoping to strike a chord, and more often than not, they do. With that in mind, we are expanding this particular feature to include more singer-songwriters into each installment just to keep up with them all.

Nashville recording artist Andrew Belle, a native of Chicago, has made quite a name for himself in the past year or so, especially within the Nashville scene. In December, Belle was part of the Ten Out of Tenn tour, a collective of Tennessee musicians who hit the road to entertain concert goers across the midwest and west, performing a range of classic and modern-day Christmas songs as well as rare indie songs. Watch a promo video of the TOT rehearsals for their Christmas 2009 tour.

In addition to Belle, the collective included Trent Dabbs, Butterfly Boucher, Katie Herzig, Andy Davis, K.S. Rhoads, Tyler James, Jeremy Lister, Matthew Perryman Jones, Erin McCarley and Will Sayles.

Due in part to the success of the TOT holiday tour, Belle is now on the road again, performing a series of solo shows in Washington state, mostly at colleges and universities. In March, he will launch another tour of colleges and universities throughout the Midwest in support of the release of his first LP, The Ladder, which will drop on February 23rd. The LP is a self-release, and was mixed by Grammy award-winning engineer Vance Powell (The Raconteurs).

After you hear the magnificent live cover of Bright Eyes', "First Day of My Life," and the wonderfully memorable, "Static Waves," you'll probably not forgot Andrew Belle anytime soon. Remarkably, Belle's voice reminds us both of Johnny Legend and Chris Martin, especially on "Static Waves." Some of you may recognize Belle's voice from his debut 2008 EP, All Those Pretty Lights, from which a couple of songs were featured on 90210 and MTV's The Real World. Last August, Belle won MTV's 'Chicago Break Out Artist' VMA award for the song, "I'll Be Your Breeze."

Amazingly, his superb debut EP is available as a free download from Bandcamp.

"Static Waves" - Andrew Belle from The Ladder (2010)

"I'll Be Your Breeze" - Andrew Belle from All Those Pretty Lights EP (2009)

"All Those Pretty Lights" - Andrew Belle from All Those Pretty Lights EP (2009)

"First Day of My Life" (Bright Eyes) - Andrew Belle, live (2009)

Andrew Belle on MySpace

Americana singer-songwriter Chris Volpe is a self-taught guitar virtuoso who executes complex finger-picking styles akin to Leo Kottke and Paul Simon. Volpe taught himself to play piano, banjo, bass and drums, among other instruments and honed his skills for songwriting. After listening to half of a dozen of his songs from different releases, it becomes ever more apparent why Volpe has received as many music awards as he has in the span of five years.

"Don't Go" - Chris Volpe from Shipwrecked (2009)

In 2008, Volpe was picked to represent Nashville at the Forecastle Festival; earlier that year, Volpe won the international Lyric Writer Award for the song "Dusty Bibles," plus the Independent Music Award for the "Singer/Songwriter Album of the Year" category in 2006 for the LP, Refugee Blues. In fact, all 15 songs on the LP were recorded live in one take - a stellar recording feat. He won the studio time to record Refugee Blues as a prize for taking the "best song of the year" at the West Coast Songwriting Association's annual contest in 2004. Volpe's music is sometimes politically charged, as well as evidenced in "Dusty Bibles," which ruminates about Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and David Koresh, and sounds a bit like a Tom Waits song.

Volpe’s top-quality songwriting and performing has also garnered him honorable mentions in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and Billboard Worldwide Song Contest. The following lyrics from the song "1849 Revisited" are one example of Volpe's songwriting abilities: For all along the river banks there lives/A residue collected in the weeds/It smells of tasteless regret: a faint glimpse/Of hearts that sold the life they own to lease.

With the help of Grammy award-winning producer Phil Harris, Volpe recorded songs that range in style from folk-jazz to Americana and country noir for his 2009 release, Shipwrecked. His band comprises some of Nashville’s finest musicians, including Jeff Coffin (Flecktones, Dave Matthews Band), Bryn Davies (Tony Rice, Patti Griffin), Donnie Herron (Bob Dylan, BR549) and Kenny Malone (Cat Stevens, Johnny Cash).

"Dusty Bibles" - Chris Volpe from Shipwrecked (2009)

Chris Volpe official website

Chris Volpe on MySpace

Check out previous installments from IRC's Singer-Songwriter Spotlight Series.

If you or your band wish to submit music for our review, please read and follow carefully the submission guidelines on our About page.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Singer/Songwriter Spotlight Series, Vol. III: In Memory of Vic Chesnutt, 1964 - 2009

Artist of the Week: French Teenage Singer/Songwriter Louis Aguilar

The Musical Genius of Singer-Songwriter Will Stratton

Best New Releases of the Week: Bear Hands, Local Natives, The Hush Now, Field Music, Son Lux, The Good Listeners

Band of the Week: Oregonian Band The Dimes Present a History Lesson of Colonial Boston in Song

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   February 17, 2010   


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