Play that funky music: Local blues and jazz band brings music to Carbondale

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

The Deciders are a Carbondale band with a relaxed attitude and a funky take on jazz and blues.

Band members Chris DiBiase, Robert Russell and Jimmy Beers are three friends who share an interest in making music. 

DiBiase, bass player for The Deciders, said one thing that makes their band unique is they don’t operate on an organized schedule. They know how to let loose and have fun. 

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“We often get kinda loose in this band,” DiBiase said. “Other bands are a little more regimented, you know. We are working on a loose band. We have fun with it.” 

The band is working on their first CD and will be releasing it at the Varsity Theatre. The release date is still unknown, but the band members said it might be out by this spring or summer. 

DiBiase said he got his first bass guitar at the age of 14 and has been playing ever since. 

Russell, lead guitarist and singer for the band, said his grandmother bought him a guitar when he was 9 years old. 

Beers, drummer for the band, graduated with his master’s in music performance from SIU Carbondale and performs with several bands in southern Illinois. 

Beers talked about his musical background and how he landed in that field of study. 

“When I came to college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Beers said. “I started in Mass Comm and then in theatre, and ended up getting involved with the music department.  I continued to play with bands in town and I still do that.”

Both Russell and DiBiase said they started off as a duo and played together for about two or three years. Beers eventually joined the band and they’ve been performing as a trio ever since.

DiBiase said they struggled to find a permanent drummer for their band before Beers joined. Both band members said Beers has been a great addition to their group.  

 “He’s a great drummer,” DiBiase said. “He has a master’s in performance and he plays in almost every band in Carbondale. We’re lucky to have him when we do. Out of the 30 years I’ve been here, he’s the best. He’s really good.”

The band said the most unusual experience they’ve ever had at a gig was when they played at PK’s in Carbondale during a rugby reunion. 

“They were really drunk by the time it was over,” DiBiase said. “It was kinda nuts.” 

Both Russell and DiBiase described the style of their music as an interesting combination of jazz and blues. 

“We do a lot of different things,” Russell said. “There’s a lot of original music and we try to stay away from 12-bar blues.” 

The members of the band said they enjoy performing in Carbondale because of the rich music community in the area. 

“We’ll play together and it’s good to connect with the other bands sometimes,” DiBiase said. “Robert and I hang out with other bands too that we haven’t seen or people come see us and we go see their bands. It’s a good music community. That’s why we like being in town. We hook up with older friends too sometimes.” 

All three of the band members said they believe the blues scene in Carbondale is still vibrant and is still going strong. 

“I think it has been going pretty good,” DiBiase said. “I think its been pretty strong and pretty steady. There’s always blues bands playing here.”

Beers said he is really proud of the way the band pays tribute to the jazz and blues genres. 

“I’m proud of the tribute that we pay to the music that sort of serves as the basis of what we do,” Beers said. “Particularly, blues and very early rock and roll. [And especially with these two guys], we write our own music with those sorts of elements in mind, but we do try to make it our own thing.”

The Deciders performed Saturday, Jan. 25 at PK’s in Carbondale. They will be performing again at Tres Hombres on Jan. 31. 

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected]

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