Chicago-based band The Bears of Blue River is making its way to Lincoln.
First they stopped in Indiana. Next they made two stops in Mississippi, where they said they slept at a shack called Big Mama’s House and relaxed to the blues. The road took them to Arkansas Tuesday night, Kansas last night, and on Thursday, they’ll be on the Zoo Bar’s stage during Lincoln Calling.
The band will perform their newest album, “Dames.”
Band innovator Gavin Wilkinson leads vocals, complemented by Margaret Gard, also on vocals.
Wilkinson started the band with a fellow Indiana musician, Justin Spring. The two have played every show together since they were 16 years old. The men met Gard while working at a sandwich shop.
Gard would come in to “visit the fish tank of attractive men that worked there,” Wilkinson said.
“She would come hang out with all of us, and I helped her get a job there,” he said. “Then I saw a video online of her singing, and I was like, ‘you’ve got to play music with me.’”
Shortly after the band began, they picked up and moved to Chicago, but not without taking a piece of home with them. Their name, The Bears of Blue River, was borrowed from a book about a young 19th-century Indiana boy.
“I used to have to read it a lot as a kid,” Wilkinson said. “I lived with my grandparents for a while, and it was considered mandatory reading in the house.”
Since arriving in Chicago, the sandwich shop crew has spread out. Wilkinson got a job at an electric piano shop, Gard began flipping pizzas and Spring took up bartending.
They worked during the day to pay rent, but didn’t clock out at night. The group spent nights recording in their apartment-turned-studio, sometimes until 4 a.m.
“When we get in the studio, we’re very productive,” Wilkinson said. “We’re all liquored up, but we’re productive.”
They moved from the apartment to a warehouse studio to record “Dames.” The band began recording in a professional Indianapolis studio. They also began to enjoy making frequent stops at taco joint down the street, La Parada.
Real clips of the band “shooting the shit” in the studio pop up at the end of many “Dames” tracks, Wilkinson said. Although completely irrelevant to the songs, Wilkinson said the clips are meant to give a taste of the band’s easy-going spirit.
The group encourages people to come out and see them during their Lincoln Calling performance.
“We always played at Duffy’s in Lincoln and stuff like that,” Wilkinson said. “I’m excited to play at the Zoo Bar. I went and watched some shows at the Zoo Bar last summer, and I like their room.”