Barefoots Joe hosts Andrew Belle in concert

Belle said that the feedback for his new album, 'Black Bear,' has been overwhelmingly positive. | Photo by Amanda Rohde
Andrew Belle, Chicago-based singer-songwriter, performs Sept. 21 at Barefoots Joe. | Photo by Amanda Rohde

Editor’s note: Find a slideshow at the end of this story.

Musician Andrew Belle played Barefoots Joe’s first concert of the fall Sept. 21.  The Young International, a band from Nashville, opened the show.

Belle is a singer-songwriter from Illinois who has garnered critical acclaim throughout his five-year career.

His work was featured in iTunes’ Top 10 list for his song, “The Ladder,” from his album of the same name, said Joe Dresser, a member of the Barefoots Joe leadership team.

Rachel Wukasch, junior family studies major, is a longtime Andrew Belle listener.

“I was really excited,” she said upon learning that Belle will appear on campus. “I thought, ‘Wow, way to go, Barefoots.’”

Belle has been on tour since May and has more than 60,000 Facebook likes.

“He’s riding a thin line between being very popular and kind of small,” Dresser said. “Despite media attention, he’s still willing to come play a small show.”

Wukasch said the show provided a relaxing atmosphere.

“It was fun and calming and really peaceful,” she said.  “It had a good energy, too.”

When Belle wrote his first album, he was drawing from artists such as  Greg Laswell and Mat Kearney.

“I was 23 and very much influenced by singer-songwriters,” Belle said. “A lot of time went by, and I became interested in different kinds of music.”

Belle’s style has changed since his last album, “The Ladder.” His new album, “Black Bear,” is much more electronic.

“A lot of students may be surprised by ‘Black Bear,’” Dresser said. “A lot of them will know ‘The Ladder’ but might not have kept up with him to have listened to ‘Black Bear.’ His new album urges his listeners to grow with him out of a folk sound into a new, synthetic sound.”

Belle said he took a gamble on assuming the listeners he had five years ago had grown in their musical tastes like he did.

“The feedback that I have seen has been overwhelmingly positive,” Belle said.

Artists like M83 and Beach House were some of the influences behind “Black Bear,” Belle said.

Belle described his new album as a hybrid. It blends the style of electronic artists but maintains a singer-songwriter sensibility.

“Lyrics and melody should be as strong as they can be,” Belle said. “Delivery is the variable.”

The audience was receptive to Andrew Belle’s new techniques.

“I like something to bop my head to,” Wukasch said. “Acoustic stuff is great, but I like when there’s a little more instrumentals involved.”

Many of the songs he played were upbeat, and students in the crowd were tapping along with their feet and clapping their hands.  The band ended the show with an encore of its  hit song, “The Ladder.”

Belle’s tour will resume Oct. 13 after a couple of weeks at home. For more information, visit www.andrewbelle.com.

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Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream