Cornmeal’s recipe for success: add jam; Chicago band has new ingredients

Cornmeal rocks the Crown Room. Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Cornmeal rocks the Crown Room.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Cornmeal has new ingredients included with the customary jam.

The quintet from Chicago had  different ingredients when it hit the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room stage, but its sound had the same tasty flavor.

“The elements and foundation of what Cornmeal was built on are all there,” guitarist Scott Tipping said. “Naturally if you have different players it’s going to bring different things to the table but we are still an acoustic-driven, rootsy, bluegrass jam, and we keep intact the core principles of Cornmeal and hopefully we are stretching some boundaries.”

The most obvious change is at fiddle position, which in January was filled by Phillip Roach. Allie Kral, who played fiddle with the band for more than 10 years, left in 2013. Drummer Drew Little joined Cornmeal three and one-half years ago. Tipping was added to the mix a year later.

Wavy Dave Burlingame, who plays banjo, and upright bassist Chris Gangi are the remaining original members and each wrote the 10 songs on the band’s new record.

Formed more than 15 years ago, Cornmeal in May released its first album, “Slow Street,” with its new lineup.

“It has songs that have been in the kitchen for a while,” Tipping said. “It was cool to get them out and get them on an official album in the studio. There is some studio embellishment but we did it primarily how we do it live.”

Tipping was invited to audition for Cornmeal after he sat in during an annual holiday “Ramble.”
He said he and the other new members are constantly learning songs from the band’s extensive library. New material is being written along the way, too.

“The reactions have been really positive,” Tipping said. “Cornmeal has a loyal fan base and I think people just love hearing the music and they know that when the band comes to town it’s going to be a good time. There has been a lot of good reaction to the new album, which has the new lineup on it.”

Old Style might be the best beverage to go with Cornmeal. “I’m a Cubs fan,” Tipping said, “but only because I like to drink beer at Wrigley Field.”

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About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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