artist chicago

Natalie York at Mother's

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Perry

I look around and up at the building scaling before me.  I am not new to the area, but I’ve never been here before.  The sign reads, The Original Mother’s.  This was the place.  My ID is checked at the door, after shuffling through an embarrassing hoard of receipts in my wallet, making small talk with the bouncer. 

I head down a cascade of stairs into a dark basement.  Two couples play beer pong in the corner.  The White Sox vs Cleveland Indians game plays on one of the televisions behind the bar.  I’m a Cubs fan. 

Nobody else besides a bartender and a few other employees are around.  Am I in the right place?  I make a detour to the restroom; make a predictable check of my hair and makeup, and head back up the stairs to the bouncer.  He informs me I am early for that evening’s performance.  There are a couple of bands on the lineup, but I am there to see Natalie York.

I head back down to the bar, order a Blue Moon and pretend to care that the White Sox are playing.  Don’t judge me.  It’s something to watch while my phone sits on a borrowed charger behind the bar.  I move into a PBR just in time, as the grown cluster of people are invited into the “backroom”, performance area. 

The stage is much smaller than I envisioned, but I am surprised at the size of the room, large enough for a second bar.  There is a band already performing when I enter the space, St. Maurice.  There fast-rock sound doesn’t match up for me as an opening to York’s soulful-folk vibe, but it’s quite impressive.

It’s York’s turn to take the stage.  We make eye contact as she sets up with her band, so I give her a friendly wave, like I expected her to know my face.  She waves back and makes her way over to where I am sitting.  As she does, I admire her outfit.  She looks country chic in a red dress, sprinkled with a floral print, white knit tights, and the finishing touch, color coordinated cowboy boots. 

She is sweet as pie, apologizing for the late start.  I point to my drink and tell her it’s no problem at all.  She excuses herself back to the stage to finish sound check before her set begins. 

There is a full band on the platform stage, including a keyboard, bass, guitar, drums, and York’s own acoustic guitar.  The band begins to play and York takes her place at the mic.  A Washington DC native, Brooklyn transplant, York packs a surprising punch of soul!  Her performance is filled with life and undeniable talent.

After the show, York and I find a corner of the bar to sit and chat.  She compliments me on my nail polish and I carry on about my choice of color.  Like old friends catching up, York is as alluring in conversation as she is on stage. 

Halfstack: You just released your second album, Promises.  Can you tell us about that?

Natalie York:  It was released on January 28th.  We had so much support for this project! Family and friends and people I haven’t seen in years, being incredibly supportive was one kind of amazing.

HS: This is your last show of your recent tour, “The Promises Tour”.  What has that been like?

NY: We have been on the tour for about two and a half weeks.  We started in Philly and then we did four days in Virginia.  We traveled to North Carolina, and then Knoxville, Nashville, Indianappolis.  I am probably forgetting a few...but that was a majority of the stops.  It was really fun!

HS:  What is your favorite song from Promises?

NY:  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  I think a few of them turned out pretty nice!  Lickety-Split and This Place (the thing is) are both great.

HS: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

NY: I grew up listening to a lot of soul music, so some of my favorites include, Ottis Redding, Rey LaMontagne, Brandi Carlile.  They are all good!

HS:  What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working on your music or touring?

NY:  Eat.  We all like to eat.  That’s a big one.         

HS:  What’s next on your agenda after the tour?

NY:  We are heading back to Brooklyn and then we have a few New York shows set up in June.  I think that we’ll make plans to go out on the road again in the fall.  Hopefully. 

For more information on upcoming performances, check out

- Perry Fish
Events Blogger & Photographer 

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