According to their press release, "Alan Bresloff of Around the Town Chicago has called the music of Tank and the Beez 'well-done' and 'stirring.' The duo’s timeless vocals and unassuming instrumentation harken back to the musicians and music of old-time radio."
Beth “Beez” Blankenship (lead vocals and guitar) and husband Brian “Tank” Blankenship (upright bass and backing vocals) are sure to be a new sensation in the community. As Oak Park residents, the Friendly Tap welcomes this local, dynamic couple and looks forward to showcasing the sound of an era that will never be lost as long as Tank and the Beez take the stage.
* How did you get started in music?
Tank started taking piano lessons back in grade school which led to playing in the symphony and marching band in high school. He played in several rock cover bands through his teens and early twenties, mostly on keyboards and some form of vocals.
Beez grew up singing with her siblings and father, who is a church Musical Director and plays in a sixties rock and roll cover band. She performed in choirs, musicals, and operas throughout high school and college, where she studied Music Therapy.
* Who were your influences?
Our biggest musical influence is definitely The Beatles. Even though their songs are a little more modern than the music we play, we think our appreciation still comes through in our musicality, especially in our original songs.
Other influences include Bessie Smith, WC Handy, Leadbelly, and more recently, Leon Redbone.
* How do you describe your style?
American Roots and Americana. But when people don't know what that means, we usually just say early folk and jazz.
* What's your favorite part of performing?
The looks on peoples' faces when they realize that they've heard a song before. Folks tend to think they don't know any music from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We like helping people realize that these songs are the precursors of virtually all modern American music.
* What's something surprising about you?
Most people from our day job are surprised to find out that we're musicians. So, audience members might be surprised to know that, outside of the band, we're married and work together at a non-profit that assists people with disabilities.
* What brought you to the Friendly Music Community?
We were looking for venues in and around Chicago that work with smaller acoustic acts. Our first experience with the venue was a Boozeday Tuesday with Ian Leith, and we immediately felt at home at Friendly Tap. The patrons are supportive and the staff is warm and welcoming.
* What can the audience expect from your Dec. 16 show?
We've been playing as a duo for the past four years, so this show is an exciting opportunity for us to work with a full, four-piece band. Tommy and Amy Malouf (below) are incredibly talented musicians from the Chicagoland area who will be playing a couple of solo tunes before sitting in with Tank & the Beez. Audience members can expect high-energy music, tight harmonies, and some old-fashioned, family fun.
A Fan's Two Cents: Every now and again, you meet people and think that there's something unique about them. It could be the ease of conversation, the connection of spirit, or simply, the likability of the individuals themselves. That's how I felt about Tank and the Beez from the start, but when hearing them live, their specialness deepened. Their calling to this music genre (late 19th/early 20th century roots music) is undeniable, as they capture a time and place many musicians strive to accomplish but miss the mark. In this case, Tank's Americana ear and Beez's vocal perfection blend in such a way that I call it transporting. And their joy for the music they play? It's contagious. So come on out and get ready to smile, to be "stirred," and to experience a special show!
To learn more about Tank and the Beez, check out their website: tankandthebeez.com
and their YouTube Channel.
But first, treat yourself by taking a listen to
"Hard Times Come Again No More" (1854, Written by Stephen Collins Foster).