CHAMPAIGN — He has been in punk bands and blues bands, and it has always been electric and loud.
Now with his new band, Cody Sokolski is going acoustic ... and kind of quiet.
Acoustic is timeless, says Sokolski, late of the Delta Kings. You can tell songs from the 1970s from the wah-wah pedals and the '80s from the synths, but old folk or blues recordings have a timeless quality (other than the scratchy sounds of the 78s.)
Using slide guitar, open turnings and other acoustic touches, his new band, Cody and the Gateway Drugs, is in the tradition of the late Ronnie Lane.
But there's one main reason the veteran went acoustic:
"I want the words to be heard," he says.
He hand-picked Katie Flynn on vocals and percussion and Keith Norton on upright bass.
"Katie is fantastic; she sings so un-self-consciously," Sokolski said, and he credits Norton with helping develop the sound.
Live, there's no drummer. The recording is being co-produced by Elsinore's Ryan Groff with some studio drumming by James Treichler of Elsinore.
Sokolski credits guitarist-about-town David Howie with helping with the formation of the Gateway Drugs.
In a series of songs he has written over more than a year, Sokolski, proud of his liberal stripes, is working on an album with a tentative title of "Songs From The New Depression."
Given his diagnosis of the economy, it makes sense that he plans to have about 1,000 copies made — and to give them all away.
He said he is concerned with a growing disparity of wealth in the world.
One of his characters sings, "It's been so long, I don't know what money looks like," and, later, "It's getting harder every day, like a 2-ton hammer, poundin' away."
In a song with the tentative title of "I'm Here," Sokolski sings:
"Maybe it gets better/I can only hope so/There's a pain to being fearful/And a loneliness that grows."
The New York native is also working on songs about his sense of having Champaign as a new hometown.
To augment the band's timeless sound, Sokolski said, the band members wear fashions from earlier times, a sort of "Depression chic."
"Raised in a log cabin in the hills of Sussex, their parents were all first cousins, and they began playing together by singing by the fireplace during the Solstice holidays," the band's Facebook page reports.
If you go
What: Cody Sokolski, solo, with Jeff Arrigo and Joe Asselin
When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 21
Where: Clark Bar, 207 W. Clark St., C
Tickets: Call 355-0510