By Brian Marchetti
BAPA’s Porch Concert series continues with a performance by local band, Grit and the Double Knit, Fri., Aug. 11, at 6:30 p. m. This unique genre-bending quintet meets at the crossroads where jazz, old time blues and country music collide.
The unique monicker emerged from an earlier project. Singer/guitarist Matt Gandurski played blues under the name Katmandu Grit. In 2011, Gandurski and some former members of an old-time jazz band, The Sons of Susan, merged into Grit and the Double Knit.
Other band members are Jeff Parker and Jason Batchko, filling out the rhythm section with stand-up acoustic bass and drums, respectively. Josh Bell plays the baritone saxophone. Multi-instrumentalist Tom McGettrick plucks the banjo and plays electric keys and pedal guitar.
The Grit and the Double Knit sound evokes images of the dark haunted streets of early 20th century New Orleans where jazz and blues fused in the humid summer nights of the French Quarter.
“I have a particular obsession with the 1920s and ‘30s crucible where American music sprang from,” Gandurski said. “It’s a vintage, darker, Americana, cabaret kind of sound.”
Gandurski first picked up the guitar at the age of ten. He honed his skill by jamming along to Metallica and other popular bands. His playing exposed him to other artists, including the Grateful Dead and Phish.
In his twenties, Gandurski frequented the stage at the Honky Tonk BBQ, a well-known fixture in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. It was there that he developed his unique vocal style.
“At the Honky Tonk, vocals had to be sung without a microphone,” Gandurski said. “I had to growl so I could hear what I was singing.”
This practical accident adds an edge to the band’s overall ambience. Gandurski’s voice sounds like his vocal chords have been sharpened by countless nights of secondhand cigar smoke and shots of gasoline.
Grit and the Double Knit plan to perform a mixture of originals and covers for the Aug. 11 Porch Concert performance.
“We’re throwing a couple of crowd pleasers onto the list,” Gandurski said. “We want to play some stuff that’s familiar but keeping it within our vibe.”
The song, “I Put a Spell on You,” originally written by Screaming Jay Hawkins and covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival, has made the setlist and is a prime example of the band’s love of classic jazz and blues.
Come out to the Porch Concert and immerse yourself in the Voodoo-inspired sounds of Grit and the Double Knit as they evoke a past that still haunts American music.
Porch Concert location TBA. Check bapa.org or sign up for BAPA’s weekly enews to keep up on Porch Concert updates.