Interview and Photos by Scott Preston
Family Groove Company is a four piece band from Chicago that is turning heads and catching ears with a sound that is uncannily fresh, and live performances that simply envelop audiences in the fun, excitement and passion that the band radiates from the stage. Growing audiences everywhere FGC plays attest to the impact the band is beginning to make, as they bring the excitement of their live performances to ever growing venues, in more and more cities across the country. Appearances at most of the Midwest’s major music festivals (Summer Camp, 10,000 Lakes, Summerfest) have helped along the way, headlining appearances at other festivals (Farmapalooza, Feel Good) point to the great things to come, and the over 25,000 live CDs that have been distributed all over the country speak for themselves. Family Groove Company is a band that music fans should not miss. (from familygrooveco.com)
Cincy Groove: So how did everyone in the band end up meeting?
Jordan Wilkow: The guitarist Adam and I went to high school together, so we have known each other for quite some time. We have been playing music in one form or another since we were 16-17 years old. In 1999-2000 Adam and I went to Los Angeles to goto a music school called The Musicians Institute. That is where we met Janis and Mattias, they were both students there as well. While we were in school we played out of LA for a couple years. Then in 2002 we all decided Los Angeles wasn’t really the place for us and we all headed back to Chicago. Thats when we started playing full time and basically trying to make the band happen.
Cincy Groove: Who came up with the name Family Groove Company?
Jordan Wilkow: Adam and I played under the name Family Groove Company when we lived in Iowa City, which is where we were going to school. At the time it was a big band and we were all a bunch of hippie kids all living in the same house. I believe one of the kids in the band came up with it. I remember none of us wanted a name that was a nonsensical made of word.
When Adam and I went to L.A. we still liked the name and didn’t have anything we liked better. Then when all four of us moved back to Chicago we still got a little mileage out of the name. People remembered us particularly in Iowa City. Basically we were playing there for the first time, new band, new members. Venues would remember the band name and we got a few extra people coming out because they remembered the good old days.
Cincy Groove: Whats the biggest crowd Family Groove Company has played for?
Jordan Wilkow: A good amount of the bigger shows have been at festivals. Most of the bigger shows have been around 1,000 people. Just this past weekend we played with Dark Star Orchestra in Des Moines, Iowa at The Val Air Ballroom. There were right around 1,000 people. We played a late night set at Summercamp this past summer. There was also a big crowd at The 10,000 Lakes Festival.
Cincy Groove: Is the new “Live in Chicago” cd ready?
Jordan Wilkow: The work is done, it will be released very soon. I like both of the studio records we have done so far. We will also be releasing our 3rd studio record by the end of the summer. With this live cd, I’m thrilled. Its captured some of that live intensity and excitement thats eluded us on the studio records. Its one of those things when people buy our studio record and listen to us, but until they see us live thats when it really clicks. I think we are delivering more of that excitement with this live record thats about to come out.
Cincy Groove: Where was “Live in Chicago” recorded?
Jordan Wilkow: We did 2 nights in November of last year at Martyrs here in Chicago. All the material from the live cd was taken from those 2 nights.
Cincy Groove: Does Family Groove Company have a favorite venue?
Jordan Wilkow: We really like Martyrs in Chicago. It has a fantastic sounding stage and sound system. We also have played at the Univ of WI in Madison at their Union Hall on campus a number of times. Madison has been really good to us, lots of energy from the kids up there. We always have a great time at The Canopy Club in Urbana, IL, and The Cabooze in Minneapolis.
Cincy Groove: What does the band like to do in between gigs?
Jordan Wilkow: Well when we are home we are doing a lot of rehearsing. One of the things about having such a busy tour schedule is that its tough to find time to rehearse. Its not so important for keeping the material up. We perform so much that everything is in a pretty good rotation. A lot of free time is spent writing and working on new tunes. Some of the band members teach to make a few extra bucks.
Cincy Groove: What was your day job before Family Groove Company started playing out full time?
Jordan Wilkow: I started teaching at The Musicians Institute in L.A. I was in school there for 2 years then started teaching there and teaching privately in the L.A. area. Its a drag in a way, its not like the band is making a fortune where we can quit our day job and live the rock star life. As the band becomes more successful you want to keep the train rolling. That usually means a busier tour schedule and going further and further away from home. That makes it nearly impossible to hold down a day job. You just have to find ways to earn money that doesn’t require regular attendance lol.
Upcoming Family Groove Company tour dates:
2/15 Papa Pete’s Kalamazoo, MI
2/16 Lafayette Brewing Co. Lafayette, IN
2/19 The Rox St. Cloud, MN
2/20 The Aquarium Fargo, ND
2/21 Mayslacks Minneapolis, MN
2/22 The Draught Haus(formerly Rascal’s) Winona, MN
2/23 The House Cafe DeKalb, IL
2/28 Vaudeville Mews Des Moines, IA
2/29 The Cafe Macomb, IL
3/1 The Cafe Macomb, IL
3/4 Mojo’s Columbia, MO
3/5 The Bottleneck Lawrence, KS
3/6 Old Rock House St. Louis, MO
3/7 Hangar 9 Carbondale, IL
3/8 NV Ultra Lounge Normal, IL
3/14 Gino’s Place Danville, IL
3/21 The Mousetrap Indianapolis, IN
3/22 Crusen’s Peoria, IL
3/27 Iowa City Yacht Club Iowa City, IA
3/28 The Canopy Club Urbana, IL
4/10 House of Blues Chicago, IL Notes: supporting Victor Wooten!
4/12 Cannabash Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
4/19 Operation Adaptation The Concord House Sullivan, WI
5/23-25 Summer Camp Festival Chillicothe, IL Three Sisters Park
6/6 Wakarusa Festival Lawrence, KS
6/27-29 Lazy River Music & Arts Festival South Elgin, IL
For complete show details visit Family Groove Company’s website: http://www.familygrooveco.com