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Judge for The Lava Brothers

Chicago, IL
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Portrait of The Lava Brothers
This Chicago-based band of brothers lucked into the actual last name of Lava and the genes of grandfather Neal Hefti, a legendary jazz composer who wrote for Count Basie and Frank Sinatra before penning the Batman and Odd Couple themes. Two of his most famous tunes, “Lil’ Darlin’” and “Cute,” were written for the band’s (late) mother when she was a child

As a result, the brothers grew up in a musical household where harmonizing was as routine as fighting over the front seat. Jesse and Josh played in a high school rock band together, but youngest brother Gabe, who then suffered from a single-digit age, was consistently denied in his efforts to participate. Gabe and his abilities eventually grew, of course, and as of 2007, the Lava brothers have finally become The Lava Brothers

Their meticulously crafted pop songs are passionate yet intelligent — ranging from acoustic powerpop to brooding rock to classical-infused balladry. The result is an eclectic brand of “sophisticated and soulful pop” that “fans of Rufus Wainwright and Steely Dan will find plenty to swoon over” (TimeOut Chicago). The brothers’ chemistry is particularly evident during live shows, in which the band often improvises songs and segues on the spot

Before The Lava Brothers, Jesse was a political activist who founded a group for religious Democrats, Josh got a composition degree from the Oberlin Conservatory, and Gabe gigged as a jazz guitarist.