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The Congregation / Press

“The eight-piece band packs a wallop, blending soul, rock ‘n roll and blues music into a potent concoction.”

“With a modern and vibrant take on soul music and the powerful vocals of Gina Bloom, The Congregation released a new instant classic in 2012 in the form of their full-length debut "Right Now Everything." The eight-piece band sports its own horn section in addition to keyboards, piano, guitar, drums (lots of drums). This is original gospel soul mix in an indie rock form, i.e. what critics love about Alabama Shakes, but so much more authentic.”

“The sound is soul music on fire, touched by the blues, and wrapped up in the energy of rock and roll; it is completely infectious! It is the kind of sound that reminds us all how powerful live music can be.”

“Continuing Chicago's hot season for local releases, these two scorchers advocate forcefully for the city's soulful roots...The Congregation makes its debut with a formidable full-length filled with churchy soul and jazzy rock. After a summer sharing stages with Wilco and the Flaming Lips, this eight-piece ensemble arrives in the wake of buzz surrounding some other old-school contemporaries, Alabama Shakes. The Congregation's Gina Bloom, though, is a different kind of singer -- more eager, mischievous, alluringly androgynous (a female foil for Taylor Hanson?). The band, too, is nimble and highly caffeinated, applying gospel grooves (the title track) as easily as slinky sugar-daddy lovin' ("High Class"). Yes, they can get my amen!”

“Cut from the same cloth as Alabama Shakes, Vintage Trouble and their fellow Chicagoans JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, these soul revivalists recently earned an opening slot for Wilco. While their most obvious influences include the likes of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, they can also rock with the best of them—they’ve even recorded a cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.””

“...singer Gina Bloom, does know this: The Congregation, the Chicago band she's in, will share the bill with Wilco and Andrew Bird at a concert this summer. And the R&B/soul band got the gig because Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy wanted them. Asked for them specifically. You don't say no to Jeff Tweedy.”

“Led by vocalist Gina Bloom, whose bluesy pipes and aching timbres carry over her dapperly dressed band's rhythm section, The Congregation unapologetically hearken back to an era when music stands, brassy call-and-response lines and disciplined performances graced every concert stage. The wild card? Sass. Bloom and Co. turn in a sultry interpretation of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on its "Not for Sleepin'" EP, complete with a bounding solo indicative of the octet's strut.”

“There just aren't many singers in Chicago that can own a room the way that The Congregation frontwoman Gina Bloom can; her voice is just that great. The 8-piece garage-soul band packs a lot of attitude and charisma into their set.”

“....Wilco is bringing some friends with them. Andrew Bird is on the bill, which should make fans of the Whistling Dandy who couldn't get tickets to his Auditorium Theatre gig next month excited to for a second chance to see him. Also on the bill is local soul act The Congregation. This band wowed us at Gapers Block's BBQ Bowl rib competition a couple months back.”

“On Sunday, July 8, a dream lineup (for me, anyway) of Wilco, Andrew Bird and The Congregation will perform at the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Kane County Cougars, as part of WXRT's 40th anniversary celebration. You've probably heard Wilco and Andrew Bird, but if you're not familiar with the Congregation, you should be. The eight-piece soul act performed at Gapers Block's BBQ Bowl earlier this year, and are picking up steam.”

“On their debut EP Not for Sleepin', Chicago eight-piece The Congregation combine classic, bluesy soul with raw rock and roll energy and the power-packed vocals of Gina Bloom for a sound that dares you not to take notice. Tracks such as the heart-wrenching "Save the Wine," the down-and-dirty "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and a funky cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" are prime examples of these musicians' bold, impressive collective powers.”

“Raised on Motown and Philly soul, Bloom has strangely mastered her punk rock scream but brims with blues and jazz styles, at one point scatting her way through a punk rock chorus and then slowing it down to a blues rhythm. This is when Bloom shines as a soul singer. She compares more to Aretha Franklin than Billie Holiday because of the heavy rhythm section, but Bloom also makes waves as a punk vocalist with more range than Joan Jett but just as much hardcore femininity.”

“Local “garage soul” band The Congregation was recently picked by the Chicago Tribune to be one of the bands to watch in 2011. They played my show last month and knocked me out.”

“....I'll keep saying it until you listen. This Chicago garage soul band simply burns up the stage.”

“A little bit of funk, a little bit of rocking soul and a little bit of electric blues roll into their sound – truly strong, standout stuff from a group that's only getting started. You get the feeling that the best is definitely yet to come from them – and they're pretty great already!”

“Gina Bloom’s pipes are ridiculous. Lady sings the blues, indeed. Not quite on par with Aretha or Billie Holiday, but not too far off. Certainly better than anyone else I’ve heard attempt songs like these in recent years....The songs “Save the Wine,” “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” and “He’s Gone” are the highlights of the record for me. The vocals are out of this world, and guitarist/songwriter Charlie Wayne really shines on “Good Man.” ...The horn section is lights out from top to bottom, as a good soul band should be.”

“Rock 'n' Vote 2011 Top 10 Finalist-- More than ever, our eighth annual Rock ’n’ Vote contest—which nearly 140 Chicago bands entered—proves that the music is all that matters.”

“If you like the blues, or, more specifically, Rhythm and Blues, give this a shot. Gina Bloom’s voice is as powerful as it is soulful, and the band backing her up is dynamite.”

“Indeed, it's one of the group's tunes, the woozy, heartfelt "Save the Wine," that forms the emotional epicenter of its recently released EP, Not for Sleepin'.”

“Reached via telephone at her Lincoln Park apartment, Bloom discussed her love of Elvis Presley, the band's fashion sense and the process that fueled the heartache in “Save the Wine,” possibly the standout cut on the band's just-released debut, “Not For Sleepin'.” ”

“Making the list set them up to play in a SXSW Showcase Showdown at Reggie’s Rock Club, which the band dominated, thus sealing their fate to perform at this years SXSW festival. For a band that has never played outside of Chicago, we say one of the nations biggest and most important industry festivals isn’t too shabby for a first show out.”

“Podcast: The Congregation live studio interview.”