Paris Delane and Sam Hogan: vocals
Erik Scott: bass
Hank Guaglianone: drums
Chris Cameron: keyboards
Phil Miller: guitars
Dan Pritzker: guitars
dave resnik: guitarS
RON SCHWARTZ : SOUND PAINTING & ASST COLORS
SCOTT STEINER: SOUND & ENGINEERING
"If a band could ever be said to be a microcosm of
Chicago, Sonia Dada is it."
So said the Chicago Tribune about the group's 2002 album
Soul," and there are few better ways to describe Sonia Dada's finely
but diverse fusion of rock and soul. Tellingly, guitarist/primary
songwriter Dan Pritzker cites the Beatles and Motown catalogues as "the
height of the idiom," and those influences -- along with R&B and
that are deeply steeped in the recent history of their home town -- are
reasonably accurate signposts for the group's soulfully-based but
freewheeling style, which has incorporated many influences and
references over the years but remains true to its rock-solid rock-soul
foundation. That sound has earned Sonia Dada a rabid fan base all over
the world, and has helped the group's five albums to sell hundreds of
thousands of copies.
Diversity is a large part of what has kept the group together: There has
scarcely been a lineup change in nearly 14 years. "The artistic freedom
the most special thing," says bassist Erik Scott. "Bass players, in
particular, are often held to playing very tightly regimented things,
is why so many of us end up playing jazz. But that same sort of freedom
is in this band."
The nine-piece group is more diverse than ever on its sixth and latest
album, "Test Pattern." Many months in the making, the album
incorporates Middle Eastern and Indian instruments into several tracks,
roots-rock into others (particularly the album's first single, "Old
and African-inspired vocals into the smooth soul of "Rag Doll"), while
great Lester Bowie kicks in the trumpet on 'Take Back'. Throughout, the
band's remarkable quartet of lead singers provide the harmonies that
have always been Sonia Dada's stock in trade.
"Would you believe that a Pope in the 12th or 13th century actually
outlawed harmony?" Pritzker says. "He considered it to be showboating:
By adding a harmony note, you were no longer exulting god. That gives
you an idea of the impact that harmony singing can have. Think of those
early Beatles albums, the Beach Boys' harmonies, it's so powerful. And
when I first heard these guys sing, I couldn't tear myself away."
The incident he's referring to occurred in 1990, when Pritzker was
captivated by the sound of Michael Scott, Paris Delane and Sam Hogan
harmonizing on a Chicago subway platform. The three soon joined a
group that Pritzker had already been working with -- featuring Scott,
Guaglianone and then-guitarist Dave Resnik -– and once Cameron came
aboard, and Sonia Dada was up and running.
To this day, the beauty and juxtaposition of Pritzker's songs and those
voices (and, of course, that of Shawn Christopher, who joined in 1999,)
remain the essence of the group's sound. "It's this weird narcissism,
working with these singers," Pritzker says. "To hear them singing my
songs is like looking in the mirror and seeing Cary Grant."
The band released its eponymous debut in 1992, which sold more than
100,000 copies and spawned the radio hit "You Don't Treat Me No Good."
That success was solidified with an extensive U.S. tour with Traffic in
1994, and the group released "A Day At The Beach" the following year.
The album found the band incorporating more funk influences into their
sound, while the following disc, 1998's "My Secret Life," gave freer
to their instrumental skill. In 1999, Sonia Dada issued a live disc,
Down and Love It Live," which features an ace cover of Sly's "I Want To
Take You Higher" and encapsulates the two-hour live shows that have
kept fans returning in droves. "Barefoot Soul" found the band group
returning to its roots by creating the most R&B-oriented album of their
"Test Pattern" builds further on that foundation, both stylistically and
technologically. Although it's not immediately apparent, several tracks
were created in a very complex and experimental manner. "There was a
project I had in art class in high school where we had to recreate an
element of a famous painting using just tiny, torn-up pieces of paper,"
Pritzker says. "And that is kind of what we did here. On a few tunes,
record something, then send the tapes to this old friend of mine from
Chicago, Ron Schwartz. He would dump them into a computer program
and essentially re-orchestrate them, then he'd send the tune back to us
and we'd make changes and send it back to him -- songs went back and
forth like that for years." Pritzker is quick to point out that the
was not done in this fashion, but "the first bunch of tracks on the
were really stuck in the blender."
The album also includes a DVD containing video footage that is quite
experimental in nature. "I wasn't looking for a visualization of the
Pritzker says, "so we had our director, this great
photographer/cinematographer named Jeth Weinrich, shoot material
based on one set of songs -- and then we changed the songs. The visual
presentation is more about the photography and the feeling you get from
Yet no matter what experiments the group might undertake, it never
strays far from the soulful core that is its greatest strength -- and
soul, obviously enough, comes from the band's soul: the intangible
warmth that springs from the members' comfort and familiarity with each
"That's the coolest thing: the way we all get along," Pritzker says. "I
it's unbelievable luck. Have you ever traveled on a tour bus? It's not
traveling for weeks and months with 10 or 11 of your best buddies, but
we can do it. We all get along, it's very natural and it really feels
happy family. There's nothing we'd all rather be doing."
Sonia Dada (1992)
A Day at the Beach (1995)
My Secret Life (1998)
Lay Down & Love It Live (1999)
Test Pattern (2004)