The Bears of Blue River

"I think we all gather a lot of influence from our friends music honestly."

The Bears of Blue River are a group from Chicago, Illinois who are unique and uber-talented. The shared male and female vocal harmonies make them distinct in the folk-pop world. Their sound hands out a relaxing aura and will make you wonder why you have never heard of this band on your local radio station. Members include Gavin Wilkinson, Justin Spring, Maggie Gard, Brian Swoveland, and Ben Janz. This quintet has a lot of admiration for their music and their growing fan base and it’s apparent when you listen to every single one of their songs. Learn some more about who the Bears of Blue River are by reading the interview with lead singer, Gavin Wilkinson.

Q. What is the story of how you all met?

A. Each story is delightful. Justin was introduced to me while I was in High School. He showed up to my band’s practice as a fill in for our mallet player at the time. He has been playing music with me ever since. I discovered Maggie’s voice via a YouTube video of her covering Hey Ya! (Seek it out. But don’t tell her I told you to!) I saw Brian play a show at a record store in my hometown with a covers band. He had even hung out at my house before but we had never spoke. I approached him and convinced (“begged”) him to play with me. Ben dated one of my close friends for a long time after they met via an accidental phone call. That phone call led him to living in the same city as me. Next thing you know it we were hanging out while I was clipping my toe nails and decided to play music together.

Q. There are five members in the band. Between the five of you, who are some of your major musical influences?

A. We all have our differences in taste but we can always fall on Bob Dylan. The oldies as vague of a term as it is seems to be clutch for any of us. I think we all gather a lot of influence from our friends music honestly. My friend Daniel Snodgrass from The Bonesetters is truly gifted when it comes to songwriting. He writes more songs than any one I know and is always encouraging me. I’m a slow writer and he always pokes and prods me. Rawr, sounds risque!

Q. If you could pick any city to play a show in, where would it be and why?

A. Gainesville or Tallahassee, Florida. Those folks down South have developed into a growing and dedicated fan basis.

Q. If you could choose an opening act for your show, who would it be?

A. The Bonesetters and/or Everything, NOW!

Q. What was the first clue you guys were moving up in the music scene?

A. I am still waiting on that clue.

Q. Some of you are living in Chicago and some of you live in Indianapolis, what are your favorite venues in each city?

A. Chicago has a few that hold a special place in my heart. I occasionally work at The Double Door and love it. The Empty Bottle is a gem. Indianapolis seems to change a lot. The Earth House is an epic space. We have only played the Vogue once but I loved it.

Q. You guys just released your E.P., “The Killer Bee Scare” this past month, what is one of your favorites from the album to play for your fans?

A. It’s different all the time for me. I feel like I have brief and fleeting affairs with each song. I do love “Tickled Pink*” as it is  one of the first songs I finished where I felt great about the message I was sending out with a song. I suppose what it means to me is irrelevant as the song needs to walk on it’s own. I hope that song does.

Q. What has been the most significant moment since “The Bears of Blue River” formed?

A. Every time I talk to my Mother about the band is a special one for me. She is my biggest fan, supporter, etc.. Knowing that she is proud of what I am doing means the world to me. I am officially a goober.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. Intense question! I think I would prefer to take a cover of one of my songs. I hate my voice.

Have a listen to “Tickled Pink*”, a song that will make you want to throw on your pajamas, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and relax by the fire.

Listen here

The End.

*Above photo courtesy of Kristen Lynn Photographie

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