The Chamber Strings

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Junior grew up in the former "Rubber Capital of the World," Akron, OH, and spent time in Cleveland before splitting for Chicago, IL, at age 16. About a year later he formed the Mystery Girls, then moved on to front the Rosehips. When the Rosehips issued their 1994 album Soul Veronique in Parchment, it did little in the U.S., but shot up the Scandinavian independent album charts. It even went to number one in Finland. Junior eventually left the Rosehips in 1995 and ventured over to England to work with Epic Soundtracks (ex-Swell Maps). Junior spent three years recording and touring with him before Epic's tragic death in 1997. During that same time, Junior also toured with Epic's brother, Nikki Sudden. He was ultimately forced to return to Chicago, due to immigration difficulties, but had already been working on the idea to form his own band, the Chamber Strings.

The band's initial lineup featured drummer Anthony Illarde (also ex-Epic Soundtracks and Lava Sutra), bassist Ellis Clark (ex-$Epicycle and Social Act), and organ/pianist Todd Fletcher (ex-Twiggy); second guitarist Tim Fowler (ex-Lava Sutra), Jason Walker (bass), and Carolyn Engelmann (piano) joined afterwards, replacing Clark and Fletcher.

The group eventually signed their first recording contract with Idiot Savant, a small label who issued the Chamber Strings' debut, Gospel Morning -- recorded in Chicago and London -- in 1997. The album stuck a resonant chord with fans of early-'70s rock, influenced as it was by T. Rex, Johnny Thunders, the Flamin' Groovies, the Faces, Humble Pie, and Goats Head Soup-era Stones. The label was short-lived, however, and went under, taking with it the album's chance to reach its intended audience. In 1999, Gospel Morning was given a second chance when it was reissued by Aurora, IL-based Bobsled Records, who were able to give the album better distribution. The group's sophomore effort, Month of Sundays, was issued in early 2001. ~ Bryan Thomas