Cory Chisel celebrates community at hometown concert in Chapel

Alex Schaaf

Cory Chisel’s show in the Memorial Chapel last Friday night was certainly a family affair. A grand homecoming show for Chisel, who grew up in Appleton but is now based in New York City, the night was full of stories and laughs, with friends and family both sharing the stage and leading the applause from the audience.
Appleton band The Wishbone Breakers opened the night and featured Lawrence’s Mark Hirsch on guitar and a guest appearance by Jake Crowe on saxophone.
The Snowbirds, a newly formed band from Green Bay and Milwaukee, played second, and during both bands’ sets, the balcony was full of relatives hugging each other and passing out invitations.
Chisel certainly had a home field advantage Friday night, but he seemed to pull his own weight. The chapel was nearly full, indicating his large fan base in the Appleton community not related to him by blood.
The night featured many tracks from his latest release, “Death Won’t Send a Letter,” performed with the help of a stellar backing band. The band produced a rich, organic sound that was only mildly tarnished by the occasional fake strings sound coming from the synthesizer. Overall, the blend of guitars, drums and clarinet proved to be quite beautiful.
The show featured many guest performers, as Chisel had held a contest on his Facebook page in the weeks prior to the concert looking for fans to submit their own versions of his songs.
He started the night off sharing lead vocals with two sisters from Milwaukee, which was charming. Later, a middle school English teacher came onstage to play acoustic guitar along with the band. These guest spots seemed a little awkward at times, but they really displayed the respect Chisel has for his audience.
Illustrating the theme of family that seemed so prevalent throughout the night, Chisel even brought his sister, along with her two small children, onstage to sing a song with him. The kids had a knack for singing into their own personal microphones, which led to quite a unique and charming performance.
Overall, I enjoyed Chisel’s musicianship and live talent quite a bit. His music always seems to be a bit lacking for me, because his songs are usually quite nice and interesting, but they fail to leave any sort of memorable imprint afterward.
However, Friday night’s show was less about the songs and more about the feelings of family and community that were on display during Chisel’s homecoming show, and in that sense