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Rising Chicago Musicians Offer Throwback Sounds

Four local acts put a twist on a timeless style—and all hit the stage this summer

(page 3 of 4)

JC Brooks


JC BROOKS, 27, frontman for THE UPTOWN SOUND
The son of an R&B singer from New Jersey, all JC Brooks hoped to do in the beginning was coax people into dancing. “I was tired of watching audiences at the Empty Bottle enjoy the music but just enjoy it from the neck up,” says Brooks, an actor who formed the Uptown Sound with three local musicians he met on Craigslist in 2007. “We wanted to make music that people wouldn’t be afraid to dance to.”

Five years later, the Uptown Sound serves up a horn-drenched combo of old-school funk and soul on original songs that evoke James Brown and the Stax Records era. But the star of the show is Brooks, who accentuates every bark, growl, and coo with broad hand gestures and slinky dance moves. “I’m not just singing a song—I’m trying to tell a story,” he says. “There’s more than one way to move people. That’s where that storytelling part comes in, making it move someone emotionally.”

SONG TO SAMPLE: “Sister Ray Charles”
SHOW TO SEE: Lollapalooza on August 4. For info, lollapalooza.com


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Photograph: Lisa Predko; Photo Assistants: Joanna Patterson, Lauren Butterfield, Lyndon French; Intern: Katie Donajkowski


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