Sound Scene Express

The Missing Link: Introducing Pittsburgh Jammers Charm & Chain

Charm & Chain create organic psychedelic blues infused jams–in the classic sense. Although they don’t sound like a rehash of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane or Phish, they take a similar freeform approach that leaves room for extensive improvisation and ultra-chill vamping. “The four of us in our current line-up all really have a lot of respect for each other and challenge each other musically,” said vocalist and keyboardist Laurie Kudis.  

Kudis founded the group six years ago after growing tired of fronting a cover band. “I really wanted to just start singing and recording my own stuff,” said Kudis over a crackly cellphone. She wrote eight songs and went into the studio to record them with the studio musicians that were available at the time. Charm & Chain ended up being a project name that stuck.

Kudis uses her lush alto to weave narratives through groovy and sometimes intricate chord progressions backed by bassist Erik Koester, guitarist Eric DiFiore and drummer Ben Sukenik. You can hear remnants of Kudis’s classically trained mentality being uprooted by the free-form organicism of the other members, two of which (the rhythm section: Koester and Sukenik) have been playing together for over a decade. “We have a lot of overlapping musical influences and interests,” said Kudis, “but at the same time we each have eclectic tastes and we bring that into the band and expose each other to new things.”

Although Kudis learned how to play the piano at a young age she didn’t actually didn’t start singing, writing, or playing in bands until she was in her thirties. She decided to take some voice lessons. Soon she was  performing in various projects and eventually writing, recording and forming Charm & Chain.

Kudis has had Koester on bass since the beginning of the project. “I was so impressed with [Koester] not only as a bass player, but as a person. And I have even more respect for him after getting to know him and playing with him all these years,” said Kudis. Koester is also a talented cellist, which will be featured on an upcoming release. “We are all friends outside of the band too. We go to see shows and festivals and hang out,” said Kudis. “When we hang out, a lot of jamming can happen. It’s really communal and beautiful.” 


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About The Author

Duncan H. Ros is freelance writer, musician and graphic artist. He received his B.A. in English from Portland State University which landed him numerous manufacturing and hard labor positions in Oregon. Besides writing for Sound Scene Express, Ros is also a writer and editor at The Know Magazine based in Bristol and has written for numerous other online and print publication covering art, music and news. He hopes to interview Iggy Pop before he dies.

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