Rebecca Rego And The Trainmen at Elbo Room 7/14/2019

After years in the Chicago area, Rebecca Rego recently took her talents to Louisville. On the heels of her latest release with her band The Trainmen, she returned to the Windy City to play two shows on Sunday. The first was a benefit for the Chicago Urban Beekeeping Project. The second was in the lounge at Elbo Room in Lincoln Park.

I arrived super early after a sweaty mission to find frozen yogurt and a copy of the movie Kuffs on DVD (mission accomplished). After half an hour of playing on my phone, Knoxville musician Brian Paddock hit the stage. A heavy Springsteen influence and an ear for melody made his set really enjoyable. He played a brand new song he’d just written the day before and it was my favorite of his set.

Rego hit the stage just a few minutes after Paddock left. She didn’t bring the full band, which makes sense because the stage can really only hold a couple of people comfortably. She and guitarist/stand-up bass/singer Eric Fitts teamed up to deliver some songs from their latest record, Speaking Of Witches.

If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s mostly Americana-roots stuff with some funky twists along the way. Rego sings a bit like Abigail Washburn, and drinks Wild Turkey bourbon like she’s been givin em the bird for years. The best of the tunes, “Worst Days” and “Time,” have a lot of heartbreak and regret, so you might be reaching for a bottle yourself.

The songs are also infused with a bit of hope, which I think provides a nice balance to the music. Rebecca and Eric had a couple friends in the audience that used to play with them, so it was fun to see them interact and have a laugh. Playing shows on a Sunday night in the summer is a bit of a bummer (because it’s so nice out and in Chicago we only get a brief window of that kind of weather) so I was glad to see them smiling from beginning to end.