Chalk & The Beige Americans were originally just named Chalk. But then lead vocalist David “Chalk” Mayers Jr. had a revelation.
“We are all variations on beige,” Mayers explains. “White people aren’t white. Black people aren’t black. We are all variations of the shade. The name is just funny. There really was no reason.”
The three-man group prides themselves on comical variations of their band’s name, including BeigeHeart, Beige Matthews Band, Beigetastic, Beige Jovi, and The Beige Mayers Trio, to name a few.
Mayers jokes about calling their first full-length album, which is due to be released in the fall,The Beige Album.
The two-year old bands’ laid-back style features smooth grooves and avant-garde lyrics.
“If you took a whole bunch of A Tribe Called Quest grooves, with some ‘50s fucking bass styling over that, with guitar over top, where the acoustics are very folksy and gospel,” begins bassist Dave Kasper, “that’s how we play. How do you really explain that to people?”
“We have been struggling with trying to find a phrase or a compound word for this genre,” says Mayers. “People have been calling us ‘soul hop.’ It’s just hard because I feel like we touch on a lot of genres. It’s overdone but I think our music is just a melting pot of genres. If I had to anchor it down, it would be more like funk.”
“Not funk,” says drummer Rich Breazzano. “It’s a groove. It’s so simple that you could drive a truck through it. It’s like a grilled cheese sandwich. You know, it’s all the cheese and bread and then you just eat it.”
However you classify them, Chalk & The Beige Americans figure they are doing something right if they can judge by the response to their music. Their live performances showoff their eclectic freestyling and jazz-like improvisations, assuring that you’ll never see the same show twice.
On a recent summer night at The Legendary Dobbs on South Street, the doors of the bar were wide open and the band could be heard from several blocks away. Passersby stopped to listen. Cops leaned on streetlights, bobbed their heads and tapped their feet.
“We are the Fisher-Price version of The Roots in a way,” says Mayers. “We connect with hip hop heads and people who are into pocket grooves, as well as the most tattooed, angsty punks. Even the responses from 40-plus-year-olds is unbelievable because I wasn’t around for their musical heyday. If they get down with it, it says a lot too.”