Burns Sisters Band | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Burns Sisters Band 

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BURNS SISTERS BAND

Throughout the 70s the five Burns Sisters gathered a following as lesser-known pop divas, their spiffy, ethereal act garnering a handful of hit singles as well as appearances in Louis Malle's Atlantic City and Woody Allen's Radio Days. But they disbanded in the early 80s and moved to Ithaca, New York, to join more of their siblings (there were 12 in all). Each of the group members started a family while working with other musicians. Marie sang with an old-timey, country-oriented band, Jeannie toured with a folk trio, and Annie did her own rock shtick. Enriched by their separate experiences, these three sisters regrouped last year, forging a mostly original repertoire that convincingly crosses folk, country, and gospel--as demonstrated on their latest CD, Close to Home (Rounder Records). Like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, these balladeers have a knack for conveying and embellishing genuine emotions. Marie's song 'Savannah" is a Woody Guthrie-inspired elegy that mourns a friend whose ashes are being flown to his hometown. 'New Kind of Old-Fashioned Girl," on the other hand, is a delightful, breezy celebration of 90s womanhood. And their cover of Little Steven Van Zandt's 'Patriot" is an empathetic treatment of his sardonic litany of political labels, which ends in an affirmation of individualism. In their first local appearance, which kicks off the Old Town School of Folk Music's 'Songwriters and Instrumentalists" showcase, the sisters will be joined by longtime collaborators Rich DePaolo (bass), Eric Aceto (fiddle and guitar), and Mike Ricciardi (percussion). Sunday, 7 PM; Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 525-7793.

TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Patrick Burns.

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