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Jeff Tweedy, Mekons members & more reinterpret Carl Sandburg’s poetry on new LP (stream it)

David Nagler

David Nagler, who’s the musical director for Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders, will release an album this Friday (10/14) of musical interpretations of Carl Sandburg’s poetry collection Chicago Poems, which turns 100 this year. The album is called Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems, and it features some pretty impressive guest vocalists: Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mekons’ Sally Tims & Jon Langford, alt-country singer Robbie Fulks, Neko Case collaborator Kelly Hogan, and more. The album was co-arranged with and features instrumentation by Jon Natchez (Beirut, Antlers, Okkervil River, etc), plus many other musicians. Full album credits below.

“Making this record has been one of the most incredible musical experiences of my life. All the lyrics come from Carl Sandburg’s debut collection of poetry, and they’re all used as originally written. Though the songs are based on poems that are at least 100 years old, because Sandburg’s poetry could be both urgent and evocative, the lyrics never felt dated to me. Setting them to music was both challenging and humbling,” David tells us. A full stream premieres right here, and if you like what you hear, you can pre-order it.

David will celebrate the album with a ten-person ensemble, including musicians who played on the album, at NYC’s Joe’s Pub on Sunday (10/16). Tickets are on sale.

The live band includes Jean Cook (violin), Therese Cox (accordion), Jeanann Dara (viola), Adam Gold (drums & percussion), Andrew Hall (double bass), Clara Kennedy (cello), Daniel Lipsitz (clarinets, saxophone, flute), Dan Lipton (piano), Dana Lyn (violin), and Justin Mullens (trumpet, French horn).

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Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone
Jean Cook: violin
Therese Cox: accordion
Robbie Fulks: acoustic guitar on “Under the Harvest Moon”
Andrew Hall: upright bass
Clara Kennedy: cello
Dana Lyn: violin
David Nagler: piano, nylon string guitar, celesta, celestaphone, Farfisa
Jon Natchez: clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, trombone
Jessica Pavone: viola
Kelly Pratt: trumpet, French horn, trombone, flugelhorn, euphonium
Mike Pride: drums & percussion
Dan Scivoletti: oboe on “Mag”

“Happiness” – Sally Timms
“Under a Hat Rim” – Jon Langford
“Child of the Romans” – Daniel Knox
“Under the Harvest Moon” – Robbie Fulks
“Theme in Yellow” – Jeff Tweedy
“Child” – The Cornhuskers: Gerald Dowd, James Elkington, Kelly Hogan, Chris Mills, Nora O’Connor, Deanna Varagona

All other lead vocals by David Nagler

“Chicago” – Duet vocal by Kelly Hogan; “The Mob”: Jean Cook, Therese Cox, Gerald Dowd, Robbie Fulks, Kelly Hogan, Clara Kennedy, Daniel Knox, Jon Langford, Jessica Pavone
“Gone” – Background vocals by Jean Cook, Clara Kennedy, Nora O’Connor, Jessica Pavone, Deanna Varagona
“Under a Telephone Pole” – Harmony vocals by Max Avery Lichtenstein

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