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Examiner
  • Chasing Fire: Local band gaining attention

  • The good-natured banter between members of Chasing Fire, which took place before a recent practice session in the stylish basement of guitarist David Hilton’s home in Blue Springs, is almost as much fun to listen to as the band’s new album, “Is This What You Wanted?”

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  • The good-natured banter between members of Chasing Fire, which took place before a recent practice session in the stylish basement of guitarist David Hilton’s home in Blue Springs, is almost as much fun to listen to as the band’s new album, “Is This What You Wanted?”
    As band members John Nigro, Johnny Tracy and Mark Jones attempt to describe Chasing Fire’s niche, they all come up with a wildly different definitions of their music – that is resulting in packed performances throughout Eastern Jackson County.
    After listening to his buddies’ unsuccessful attempt to come up with the definitive definition – which sounds more like a Three Stooges routine than a scholarly attempt to dissect their appeal – Hilton blurts out, “We basically hate our music!”
    But after spending a few minutes with Chasing Fire, it’s obvious that they do not hate each other. They have formed a bond in a very short period of time that could lead to the type of success Nigro and Tracy never dreamed of when they formed the band in late 2011.
    “I was booked to play a solo gig at Jowler Creek Winery,” said Nigro, a Grain Valley resident who is a para-educator in the Oak Grove School District, “when Johnny moved back to Oak Grove from Atlanta, where he was attending the Atlanta Institute of Music.
    “I asked him if he wanted to join me and he brought his snare and high hat and we had a blast. We really hit it off – and Chasing Fire was born.”
    The two longtime friends began writing music and seeking a guitarist and bass player to make their dream a reality.
    “I remember writing our first song and it was a disaster,” Nigro said, grinning from ear to ear. “I mean, it was a real disaster. It was a tossup between a Toby Keith and Wes King song – in fact, I think we even ripped them off a little bit – so needless to say, you won’t find that one on our album.
    “But we kept working and we came up with some pretty good stuff.”
    One of their first efforts, titled “Undone,” is a staple at Chasing Fire concerts.
    “It’s amazing to look out in the audience and see someone you don’t even know singing along with what you’re singing,” Nigro said. “It makes all the hard work of coming up with good lyrics and music worthwhile.”
    Hilton, who works in the heating and cooling business, was the first member of the band to join Nigro and Tracy and a mutual friend suggested Jones.
    “David is an amazing guitarist – we hit it off right away,” said Nigro, who met Hilton at the Trouser Mouse in Blue Springs. “He passed his first test – being able to keep up with his drinking – and then we found out he was a great guitarist.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jones, a bartender who lives in Lee’s Summit, brings a funky soul sound to the group that Nigro and Tracy were searching for, and the four Eastern Jackson County residents are now chasing something special.
    “In Greek mythology, if you get too close to the sun, you get burned,” Nigro explained. “We are all chasing something, and Johnny’s wife Kat said one night, while we were sitting out of my deck, ‘It’s like chasing fire – you don’t want to get burned – but you want to get close enough to feel it.’
    “And we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re chasing fire.’ And before long, we were Chasing Fire. Thank you Kat.”
    When asked about performing before a live audience, Tracy chuckles and recalls a performance he was part of with another band long before he and Nigro created Chasing Fire.
    “There was one person in the audience,” Tracy said, as the other members cracked up.
    Nigro is quick to add, “We had that one performance at Stinger’s (a bar in Grain Valley) with about six people.”
    Tracy, who works in the auto parts industry, winced at the comment.
    “But the place holds about 20 people and we must have had 60 the next time we played,” the drummer said. “So we’re getting there.”
    To really get there, they hope to get radio play and go on tour.
    “We’d like to be an opening act for a bigger group,” Hilton said. “But we know we have to pay our dues.”
    Which is exactly what they are doing at local wineries, small venues and any place that will offer them a chance to hone their craft.
    “We store our gear in my garage,” Hilton said, “so when my wife wants to park the car in the garage, we have to haul everything down here.”
    Welcome to the glamorous world of making music, where chasing that elusive dream can be as demanding and challenging as coming up with the next great set of lyrics or guitar riffs.
    “No one said this was going to be easy,” Jones said, “but we’re in it for the long haul. We love what we’re doing, and every time we go out and play we have more fans show up – so we must be doing something right.”
    Just one listen to “Is This What You Wanted?” answers that question. Their breezy blend of pop/rock is soulful, aggressive, catchy and good ol’ fashioned fun.
    You can find out more about Chasing Fire at www.chasingfiremusic.com. For booking information go to chasingfiremusic@gmail.com or call 770-605-5448.
     
     

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