Meet the Band: Chris Black (vocals), Tre Smith (DJ, vocals), Ray Flanagan (guitar), Garrett Tresch (bass), Kyle Tresch (drums)
Eastern Promises: Born and raised in Willoughby, Chris Black started performing with what he calls a "basement band" when he was in eighth grade. "I found out I could rap two years later," he says. He released his first album, Against All Odds, in 2011, and has steadily recorded and played live locally ever since. "Against All Odds had some good songs but I've grown and gotten better." The Piano Man: Black started out on bass and then moved to guitar. Eventually, he learned to play piano. "I started playing piano in eighth grade," he says. "I write most of the songs on piano but sometimes I write them on guitar. You can tell the difference in the way they sound."
Why You Should Hear Them: Red Pill, the followup to last year's Welcome, is so politically oriented, Black describes it as a "protest album." It includes snippets from speeches by George W. Bush, Joe Biden and Ron Paul and provides a critique of what Black calls "the New World Order." "The lead single 'Amerika' is a song I wrote shortly after the Boston bombing when the government declared martial law in Boston," says Black. "The album is also inspired by everything on the radio. No one addresses the stuff that I address. They have their publicists and they're telling them not to say certain things. Musicians are starting to talk about this kind of stuff but not on the radio." Black also took Neil Young's "Ohio" and turned it into a rap song. Local guitarist Ray Flanagan joins Black on the tender ballad "Here 'n Now," a tune about making good decisions that includes more singing than rapping.
Where You Can Hear Him: chrisblackohio.com
Where You Can See Him: Chris Black performs with Jamil and Mana at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3, at the Beachland Tavern.