Artist Spotlight: Smoke N’ Mirrors

Jazz trio Smoke N’ Mirrors played three sets over the course of Friday evening at Boone & Crockett, entertaining patrons as the place got increasingly crowded. Boone & Crockett is the bar connected to The Cooperage in Walker’s Point along the river, for those that do not know.

Smoke N’ Mirrors consists of keyboardist Gabriel Hammer, tenor saxophonist Pete Geraci, and drummer Sam Kacala. Formed in March 2018, they just dropped their debut record “Wolf Party” on Bandcamp this past August.

“I knew Gabe from a jam session we did in like 2013-14,” Kacala explained. “Him and Pete have known each other forever, and Gabe was looking to jam, as everything forms. I wasn’t really a part of anything at the time, so I was like “hell yeah, let’s do it” and we came together. Gabe writes most of the music, if not all.”

“Our first gig was at The Gig for Riverwest Votes,” Hammer added. “It was a get-the-vote-out type thing for the governors race. We had like two months to prepare for it and we threw together eight or nine original tunes I had, plus some stuff we just kinda grabbed from the air…blues tunes, hip hop bass lines, meter stuff…it was cool. Sam comes from the hip hop background so that’s right up his alley.”

They describe the recording process of their new record.

“It was very DIY,” Geraci said. “Our friends let us record at their house since they were trying to figure out their recording gear and we were their guinea pig. It was in their living room and I just love that style of recording because you get to be really creative and you’re not feeling the pressure of being in a real studio. A lot of our songs were like eighty percent written at that time…we hadn’t nailed down the perfect solo or the right way to come back into a section, so we kinda worked it out there – it was a really organic process.”

“When we started recording the weather was cold as shit,” Kacala added. “It took some months to do it, so by the time we were done, it was that feeling of where it was finally getting warm and you could wear no jacket. The recording process was so much more fun towards the end, and I wonder if that reflects in the songs – like how much more fun we were having as opposed to the beginning where it was cold and rainy and sleet.”

“Even some of our best tunes didn’t turn out as good as they usually do live, and I think the weather had something to do with it,” Hammer said. “The recording process is kinda dry, and when it’s live, you feed off the audience.”

Smoke N’ Mirrors have some new songs they are looking to record, and are focusing on playing out a lot more. Their show goals include Summerfest, playing outside Milwaukee, and getting back into The Jazz Estate.

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