“The concept for Chicago-based band Sidewalk Chalk sounds almost gimmicky at first blush: eight musicians, including a jazz vocalist, a rapper, a tap dancer and a horn section, joining forces to fuse the genres of hip-hop and jazz.
But keyboardist Charlie Coffeen says the unique ensemble, which will play Cliff Bell’s on Sunday, arose from a serendipitous meeting of several similarly open musical minds. Coffeen met and began spending time with most of Sidewalk Chalk’s original lineup, including MC Rico Sisney and singer Maggie Vagle, while attending Chicago’s Columbia College in the late 2000s.
“We didn’t really have an intention of starting a band or meeting up to write a bunch of songs,” Coffeen says. “But when we met for the first time it just kind of stuck.””