The Northstar Session Review

 

A recent press photo of the three members of The Northstar Session: Matt Szlachetka, Kane McGee and Dave Basaraba.

A band that harks back to the days of folk and rock ‘n’ roll, The Northstar Session is a musical combo full of optimistic energy. Their recent album, “Late Bloomer,” has received critical acclaim from Music Connection Magazine, the San Diego Troubadour, and Vintage Guitar Magazine. All agree that The Northstar Session provides an absolutely irresistible pop-rock sound with vocal harmonies and appealing melodies in both electric and acoustic style.

Over four years the band has grown, opening for folk artist Chris Hillman and debuting on the TV show Parenthood, all while maintaining chemistry between guitarist Matt Szlachetka, drummer Kane McGee and keyboardist Dave Basaraba. Despite their difficulty finding a committed bass player, the band has made the best of their situation. At concerts where they could not find a bass player, the band would “extract bass tracks from [their] albums and play those tracks,” said lead guitarist Matt Szlachetka. Usually, though they “had four or five guys in rotation.”

The Northstar Session began in San Diego as Szlachetka’s creative outlet. The guitarist gathered some musical friends, and they “just hit it off.” Their chemistry was apparent at once, and they moved to Los Angeles, where they wrote their first EP and toured locally in Southern California.

A Black Crowes song called “Nonfiction” inspired the band name The Northstar Session. The North Star, of course, is known for guiding people towards home. And that, said Szlachetka, is the sentiment they wanted to express, of “a comfortable environment, so you feel like you’re at home when you listen to the music.” The session in the name The Northstar Session can refer to a listening session, a recording session, or a jamming session.

Szlachetka himself was influenced by music sessions in his childhood home. “You know, I can’t even remember a day when there wasn’t music being played in the house,” he said. “We always had records playing and the radio on, particularly a lot of folk and rock ‘n’ roll. That definitely shaped… the sound of the band.” And the band’s roots do lie in the 1960s and 1970s era.

Instead of majoring in Psychology like he originally planned, Szlachetka changed his major to music after taking and hating Psych 101. “It was great to have some experience under my belt before starting the band,” he commented on his music major. Szlachetka also played cello for about 3 years before playing guitar.

The goal for the band is to get “bigger and better, with better shows and better venues,” says Szlachetka. Originally, though, Matt Szlachetka wanted to earn an income from music and play professionally as a job. He was able to do that by “teaching guitar lessons, doing side gigs, and then starting the Northstar Session.”

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