Photo by Jodi Sargent
March 5, 2020
For Damon Mitchell, becoming a musician was more of a destiny than a dream.
Mitchell was born to a family of musicians in Robinson, Ill.
His father, Max Mitchell, was a member of the gospel group The Mitchells from their inception in 1966 to the time he retired in 2017. The group traveled and played, mostly in churches, about 45 weekends a year.
As we all know, the show must always go on, so at just six days old, Damon attended his first Mitchells concert as the band continued to work. He began a life full of music that has led him toward becoming a hot, emerging artist on the local scene as well as attracting a lot of national attention.
Fated for music at a young age
Mitchell says his earliest memory is banging on pots and pans while watching a VHS copy of Chicago’s Live at the Greek Theatre. It started his obsession with rock music. When he was around five, he was allowed to travel with the family band during the summers, leading to a full-time gig singing and playing bass when he was 10, which eventually lead to playing guitar as well.
Though The Mitchells played gospel music, Damon says it was his dad’s love of rock n’ roll that turned him on to bands like Chicago, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Carpenters.
“When I was 13, I started my rock band and ended up touring with them throughout high school,” he told Whatzup. “That led to becoming a songwriter and kind of falling into what I’m doing now, which is doing my solo stuff with a band.”
Mitchell said that Paul McCartney and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard are his favorite songwriters, so it’s logical as to why his music has been described as The Beatles meet Death Cab.
“I do try to write music that harkens to the music of a generation that has now been considered timeless, like that of Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson,” Mitchell said.
“While I certainly do not put myself on their level at all, I really do try to incorporate elements of that type of music that people find familiar but try to put a modern edge on it that the younger generation likes a lot but also resonates with an older generation.”
Mitchell just released a new EP, Tell Us Something We Don’t Know, in which he shows off his multi-generational style. The disc features three live tracks and one studio recording. Two of the songs are from his previously well-received EP Elise and two are brand new.
The recording spotlights an impressive band including session and touring drummer Nick Tamez, Grammy-nominated guitarist Audie Blaylock, percussionist Walfredo Reyes Jr. who is currently a member of Chicago, bassist Dave Martin who has played with The Drifters and The Box Tops, and last, but not least, Max Mitchell.
“I’m the weak link in my band,” Mitchell said without a bit of regret in his voice. “It’s such an honor to play with so much talent.”
The album’s emergence came as a bit of surprise even to Mitchell himself, since he was not planning on making one at the time, or at least not this one.
“It’s interesting how it happened,” he said. “I was doing some recording for another project and had asked my friend Walfredo Reyes Jr. to come to Fort Wayne to record with me on it. We couldn’t get into the studio until 6 o’clock at night, so I booked a concert earlier in the day at the Crescendo Café inside Sweetwater.
“He agreed to play with us at the show since he was going to be in town for that recording session. He had never played with us before, and this magical thing just happened. We sat down afterward and picked what we thought were the three strongest tracks from that day and put it on the record.”
Mastered at Abbey Road
Another special element of the EP is that it was mastered at none other than Abbey Road Studios in London, the same place where The Beatles recorded so many of their ground-breaking albums.
According to Mitchell, visiting the historic studio was surrealistic.
“It was ridiculous,” he said. “I never thought I’d hear one of my songs come out of a set of speakers at Abbey Road. That place has an aura about it. So many pinnacle creations have happened there that have helped in the defining of our culture and have changed music. It was haunting to be there.”
Mitchell is putting on a show to celebrate the release of Tell Us Something We Don’t Know. It takes place March 12 at Promenade Park and will feature his all-star band playing most of his original songs along with a lot of material from artists that have influenced them, including, you guessed it, a nice helping of songs originally performed by those lads from Liverpool.
“The fun thing about what we do is that no two performances are ever the same,” Mitchell said. “One night a song could be five minutes long and the next night that same song could be fifteen minutes. It’s just going to be a heckuva lot of fun.”
The first ten people though the door get a free CD and there will be copies available for sale as well.
There will be no opening band, just Mitchell and his gang playing their hearts out as they do every time they perform.
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