Daily Egyptian

All-star rock group sets the stage at Hangar

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

Similar to the stacked 1992 United States Olympic men’s basketball team, Carbondale rock band Battle Jacket Baby is a dream team of some of the city’s musical veterans.

Comprised of Eddie Chapa on vocals and guitar, Chris McKinley on vocals, Mike Ricci on bass and vocals, Dane Spalt on drums and Shadi Frick on tenor sax, Battle Jacket Baby members are from a wide range of musical backgrounds and careers.

Ricci owns Mike’s Music store in Carbondale and Frick teaches band at Carbondale Middle School.

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Chapa plays in the classic Carbondale band Jungle Dogs and in Diamond Dog with bandmate Spalt, while McKinley is recognized by Chapa as the “Queen of Harmony” and has played in multiple bands.

Despite their musical influence dating to the 1980s, the band is fairly new to the scene, forming a little more than a year ago. 

“We’re all kind of veteran musicians from the Carbondale area and we’re also friends that go way back,” said Chapa, who formed the group as a side project from Jungle Dogs with Spalt two years before playing Battle Jacket Baby’s first live show.

The rest of the members had to be persuaded to join the band because of their busy schedules, he said. 

“I jokingly tell people that I had to twist everybody’s arm in this band to convince them to join,” he said.

The band’s initial vision was to create a specific country-rock sound, but it organically evolves over time, he said.

“Some guys like to go into a room and write completely to themselves. … But other times, it’s great to just get in a room and just throw ideas around,” he said. “It goes in different directions and sometimes you get some really cool results.” 

Chapa said the band’s two main influences are rockabilly and alternative country, but is not exclusive to those genres. 

“Those are the two little flavors that get infused in an edgy rock format,” he said. “There’s a little bit of blues in there as well.”

Cover songs, as well as originals, can be expected at a Battle Jacket Baby show, including old blues tunes such as “Spoonful” by Willie Dixon.

“Inevitably, a song kind of becomes your own anyway,” he said. “Sometimes it’s similar to the original, sometimes it’s radically different and that just evolves from rehearsing and playing it.” 

Chapa said the friends he has in Carbondale’s music scene helped with the creation of the band.

“Just from the pool of friends and musicians and mutual friends, you can get the word out,” he said.  “It’s great to be a part of a tight-knit musical community like Carbondale because you have resources to go out to.” 

While musical compatibility can be hard to acquire for a newly formed band, Battle Jacket Baby’s initial creative environment was much more natural.

“I ended up with five of us who are not strangers to each other and have a certain dynamic and relationship already, so you already hit the ground running,” he said.

Battle Jacket Baby will perform Friday at Hangar 9. The show will open with Cashmere Cobra, which includes Dan Shingle, guitarist for Jungle Dogs. This will be Cashmere Cobra’s first live performance. 

With two Jungle Dogs in the building and more nearby, the chance of a miniature reunion is a possibility.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311

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