Life on the road dynamic for duo

Musician JT Nero, who makes up one part of the duo, Birds of Chicago are equally at home on the road as they are comfortable at home.

Allison Russell and JT Nero are Birds of Chicago

Allison Russell and JT Nero are Birds of Chicago

Musician JT Nero, who makes up one part of the duo, Birds of Chicago are equally at home on the road as they are comfortable at home.

“It is true,” said Nero, who, along with his wife, Allison Russell, will be at the Dream Cafe on Sept. 6. “That’s definitely one of the things that Allison and I share together. We’re both real comfortable in kind of a nomadic existence.”

They spend about 10 months of each year travelling and when they’re not performing, split their time between Chicago and Montreal, with their seven-month old daughter.

“I think my perfect scenario, particularly with raising a baby, I’d like to see us cut it down to, I don’t know, six or seven months of the year.”

Nero said they do find it enjoyable and, as musicians, they feel it’s important to take their music to the people in order to gain recognition and increase their fan base.

Russell is known for the band, Po’Girl, while Nero was with JT and the Clouds before they began collaborating on musical projects.

Nero was living in San Francisco in 2001 when a member of another band, who told him about Russell.

By 2004, Nero was living in Chicago and had formed JT and the Clouds and Russell was busy with Po’ Girl. Each of the bands began performing at the other band’s shows.

“It went from a mutual appreciation society . . . to Ally and me in particular, we found that we were making more excuses to be hanging out together and be collaborating together.”

Then in 2011, they started discussing working on a project together and Birds of Chicago was “hatched” the following year. While some may see their band as something new, Nero said he considers it to be the culmination of time spent working together and sharing their musical talents. Their first album Birds of Chicago, was also released in 2012.

Nero and Russell are the primary members but Nero noted they have as many as eight musicians who play in-studio and tour with the band.

Russell had previously played the Dream Cafe with Po’ Girl, as did Nero, who jammed with them at one of their shows.

“It’s a great music series there (Dream Cafe),” he said. “It’s a gem of a place.”

Both Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds remain intact but Nero said he and Russell are putting their efforts into Birds of Chicago as well as in raising their daughter.

“She has been to date, 41 states, three provinces in Canada and five countries,” said Nero.

He shared what it’s been like raising a baby while touring and noted it’s not quite as difficult as some would expect.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned pretty quick, it’s that humans are pretty adaptable,” he said, adding maintaining some type of regular schedule is the best way to help ensure their life is in order.

“It’s one of the things that people who are not on the road don’t quite realize, is there’s a definite rhythm to the day,” Nero explained. “We have our breakfast and then she knows she’s going to get in the car and have a nap while we’re driving.”

Aside from those occasions when she gets a little cranky or when he and Russell are feeling tired and worn out, “it’s been amazing,” said Nero.

They recorded a live album in Chicago that was released in January, and currently, they’re cutting songs for a new album.  They’re also shopping around for producers and a record label.

“We’re in that process and I would like to think that we will have something out by the summer of 2015,” said Nero.

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