Birds of Chicago

Real Midnight - 2016

Real Midnight - 2016

Live From Space - 2013

Live From Space - 2013

Birds of Chicago - 2012

Birds of Chicago - 2012

"On the verge of breaking big time" 

- Chicago Tribune

"This year's biggest roots surprise." 

- The LA Times

"Two of the most compelling new voices in Americana roots music." 

- Chicago Sun Times

"Poetry set to some of the finest roots melodies you'll hear in this lifetime." 

- Alan Harrison, No Depression

"Songwriting genius." 

- Maverick Magazine, 5 Star review

"Two talented singer-songwriters with mesmerizing voices and impressive songwriting skills...Just one genre isn't enough to describe the mesmerizing music of Birds of Chicago...a seamless fusion of soul, country and doo-wop."

- KUTX, Austin

"Birds of Chicago seem to appreciate the little things and the bygone things. They write these picturesque songs that still deal with desperate love and the hardships that you don't have to find. They will always find you, but then you just need to find a way to quell them. All it usually takes is a dash of the bright side. It takes slicing that first ripe tomato from the summer garden. It takes drinking in a night full of friends and food and deliriously joyful talking. It takes knowing that all of this madness is beautifully meaningful - the sleepless nights, the crying, the laughing, the losing and the winning...Nero and Russell make rainy and sunny days feel the same - like treasures." 

-Sean Moller, Daytrotter 


  • The band recently released their sophomore record, Real Midnight, which was produced by Joe Henry (Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Solomon Burke, Carolina Chocolate Drops, etc.) and funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $80,000 and pre-ordered over 1,150 copies of the album!

  • Real Midnight received press coverage from NPR’s First Listen Feature and Weekend Edition, in addition to reviews from the Wall Street Journal, Paste, No DepressionAfropunk, and more.

  • The band just concluded a cross-country Canadian tour that spanned the provinces with multiple sold-out shows. In addition, they performed sold-out shows in the US and Europe throughout the spring with festival appearances in the summer. Highlights include Fayetteville Roots Festival, Bear Creek Folk Music Festival, Fairlane Folk Festival, American River Music Festival, and more.
  • Live sessions with NPR’s Folk Alley and eTown and a live taping with NPR’s World Cafe. The show featured the band as a World Cafe "Next Artist" on a show that also highlighted Tom Waits and David Bowie.
  • Currently recording with North Mississippi Allstars bandleader Luther Dickinson alongside Amy Helms, Amy Lavere, and a number of other musicians, for the Songbird Project. 

  • Since forming in 2012, BoC have played 400 shows across the world. The group has amassed fans across the US, Canada and Europe. Previous festival highlights include Cayamo, High Sierra, Kerrville Folk, Delfest, Wintergrass, Fayetteville Roots Fest, Strawberry Music Fest, and more! Recent performance highlights include Audiotree and Songs From the Shed.


In so many ways, we are a word weary culture, ever searching for ways to communicate in fewer and fewer words, letters, syllables...Our online, blogged out, you-tubed attention spans are truncated and fragmented like never before. Birds of Chicago, the collective centered around Allison Russell and JT Nero, reassert the simple notion - radical in these times - that beautiful words and music can still tap deep veins of emotion.

real midnight's gonna come/ real midnight's' gonna come
real wolves at your door/ with blood on their tongues
now what you gonna do/ with your days left in the sun ?
ha da la ha

Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered; the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition and the music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. For Birds of Chicago, every word counts. Every note counts. No gold-dusting, no filler. Music is the good news and Real Midnight, the band’s poignant new Joe Henry produced album, throbs with an urgency that feels quietly seismic.

Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when Nero began writing for his vocal star-muse, Russell. Both were accomplished singer/songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed Canadian roots outfit Po’ Girl, but together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting.

On Real Midnight, Birds of Chicago alternate moody rock swagger with the ghostliest of soundscapes. Produced by Joe Henry, a man who’s expert blending of light and shadow is well known, the album is a melancholy - but never shoe gazing - suite, full of wayward, joyful, lonesome voices raised up against the night.

Music this raw and soul-rich demands to be experienced live, and Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since their formation in late 2012.  For these Birds, singing for a room full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases off the shadows. 2016 will find the band in constant motion - from sea to sea and beyond.

Click here to download PDF bio
Click here to download a Q&A with JT and Allison