Founded in 2009 by Patrick Burke, Andrew Kuhar, and Nicholas Kuhar, The Commonwealth has since written, recorded, and produced three albums out of Nottingham Studio, their creative headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, where they work and reside with Chewbacca, the largest cat within the city limits.
Their debut EP, 2011’s Souvenir, was hailed as “an intoxicating mix of new-age guitars, clashing cymbals, and soaring vocals” (Cleveland Scene) and an album that “warrants repeat visits – and an eagerness to experience what the next trip will bring” (OhioAuthority). These accolades led promoters around the city to invite them to play at legendary venues such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and open for international acts such as The Sam Roberts Band at The Grog Shop.
Intent on capitalizing on the momentum Souvenir spurred, The Commonwealth immediately began working on a full-length follow-up, which manifested in the Summer of 2012 as Emerald City Blues. This LP not only captured the attention of local critics and music lovers (Jeff Niesel of Cleveland Scene praised it as “Meticulously executed and delivered with great attention to detail, all 11 songs [on Emerald City Blues] have a strong cinematic quality that distinguishes [The Commonwealth] from standard fare indie rock”), but also led them to opening spots for Australian-favorites The Jezabels at the Beachland Ballroom, a spot on the main stage for 2013’s Cellar Door Rendezvous, a headlining role for the 2013 The Waterloo Arts Fest, and a nomination for the coveted Cleveland Arts Prize*.
In early 2013, The Commonwealth had the good fortune to forge a partnership with the Markerts of Cellar Door Records amidst the making of another full-length album—Urban Soul—which would be the first released through the label. Recorded almost entirely live in their home studio, Urban Soul is the darkest, lushest, most dynamic and succinct statement the band has made to date. The musical additions of trumpet fanfares, slide guitar, house percussion, and upright piano are matched by new lyrical concerns—most notably, what it feels like to live in a city whose rebirth seems imminent but is not yet guaranteed, attempting to be frank about adult relationships and the challenges they entail, and trying to keep in touch with childhood friends who are now anywhere from a state to an ocean away.
2013 promises to be a watershed year for the band, as performances at Mahall’s Lakewood Music Fest (feat. Talib Kweli), the city’s beloved Ingenuity Fest, and the release party for the Urban Soul LP at Happy Dog on July 26th await.