When Burr Oak first released “Trying,” a single off last week’s “Late Bloomer” album, founder and heart of the indie-folk band Savanna Dickhut knew it was catchy and, even more importantly, relatable.
“We’re going through this pandemic, and I just felt literally, like the chorus says, some days I can’t get out of bed but I’ll keep trying,” Dickhut said. “You’re just going through it, and you don’t really know when you’re going to feel better, but you know you will eventually, so you just got to keep … I know it sounds cheesy, but keep trying.”
With its poignant yet hopeful message (which could be broadly interpreted to what many of us were going through at the time) grounding the song’s elegantly ethereal instrumentation, Dickhut shows it’s helpful to look ahead to brighter days even when one feels mired in an emotional rut.
“I felt really connected to those words I was saying at the time. I felt those so deeply, and now I feel a little, not disconnected from it, but I feel like I’m in a better place and I can be productive and I’m just a healthier individual,” Dickhut recalled about the song’s timing. “That’s what’s great about songwriting. You can really feel all the feels, and then just get it out of your system. Like capturing that particular moment. That’s what a song is, y’know? It’s a moment and it’s a feeling. That’s what I was feeling, so I had to write it down.”
Now, a few months removed from that first music video, Dickhut is excited to share the rest of her album when the band plays its release show at Schubas Saturday, Aug. 7.
Burr Oak started in 2019 when Dickhut was growing disconnected from her previous band’s music. She wanted to explore more personal songwriting herself and so released “Southsider” and “Rosemary,” two singles that solidified her dreamy pop sound on the Chicago scene.
“I needed to get the songs out because I was feeling, I guess, depressed, and I felt like I needed to release them out into the world to get it off my chest or feel better,” she said. “For me, it felt a little selfish, but I needed to do this for myself.”
That inroad led to a number of shows around Chicago and the start of an album before the pandemic shut the music scene down.
Emerging out the other side of the health crisis, Burr Oak is a full-grown family now: Dickhut, Tony Mest on drums, Jeffrey Sullivan on guitar and Jake Gordon playing bass.
“Obviously no one wanted this to happen. It was a huge, terrible thing when it hit, and obviously no one would ever wish for this,” Dickhut said. “But we have a great unit now. We are stronger. It gave us time to grow and gave us time to record this record. … I feel really great about what we have created and this kind of family. Everyone trusts each other and we’re just really all invested in this, so I think I feel really good about where the band is at right now.”
Burr Oak’s headlining appearance at Schubas Saturday is the band’s first onstage performance since the pandemic began. And for part of the band, it’s the first time playing in public with Burr Oak. And it’s the first time many of the songs on the new release are being played live for fans. Plus, new “Late Bloomer” merch. So Dickhut is looking forward to this evening of firsts.
“I’m literally excited to just play anything because, aside from being in our rehearsal space, I haven’t sung into a microphone to people in so long,” she said. “I’m excited for the whole thing but I’m extra looking forward to singing the songs we haven’t ever played live. So the ones that are on the record that have been released in the midst of the pandemic, those are the ones that I’m super looking forward to.”
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Burr Oak with Max Subar, Morinda
When: 8:30 p.m. (8 p.m. doors) Saturday, Aug. 7
Where: Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $13-$15 at lh-st.com