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CoLab Showcase: Stephen Francis (of Model Stranger), Neon Creek, VINO - 8PM | $10

  • Uncommon Ground (Lakeview) 3800 North Clark Street Chicago, IL, 60613 United States (map)

Stephen Francis (of Model Stranger)

Neon Creek


Dubbed "rock n’ roll classicists" and "an eclectic synthesis of psychedelic grunge and classic rock" by Chicago press Model Stranger’s sound and unique look has pleased rock and roll purists, indie rock fans, and casual listeners all the same. Their variety of sonic influences covers ground of which fans have described as ranging from Tom Petty and David Bowie to Pearl Jam and Muse.

The band will be touring through the Winter of 2015 in support of their latest release Imitation Act, now streaming and available for purchase at

After the band’s debut 2010 release “Dreams & Bones” charted on CMJ stations the band hit the road playing over 150 shows in their first 18 months together. Amidst regional touring Model Stranger spent the following two years in and out of the studio working on songs and additional material for their follow up.

Taking less of a live approach into the studio yielded exciting results as the band made a point to explore a more “Model” side of their musical sensibilities on their 2013 release, The Changing Score. While traces of the energy and excitement captured on their debut release remain, The Changing Score takes travel down additional avenues from the genres of Classic Rock and Grunge. An EP showcasing the “Stranger” was just released in February of 2015

Model Stranger - made up of Stephen Francis (vocals/guitar), Kevin James (Bass) and Vincent Joseph (Drums) is the epitome of a DIY band. This rock trio has worked the Midwest scene very diligently with an impressive list of successful regional tours. In addition to sharing the stage with popular national acts such as Candlebox, Our Lady Peace, Local H, Neon Trees and Ours, Model Stranger has performed at famous Chicago clubs and festivals such as; The Metro, Congress Theater, Double Door, and Cubby Bear. Model Stranger also co-headlined the 2009 I AM FEST, and performed at the 2009, 2010 Taste of Chicago festival, and Taste of Lincoln Festival 2010, 2011, 2014.

1.)Who is Neon Creek

I am a songwriter/solo artist based in Chicago. I tried using my actual name once and I hated it!  

2.)Where does the name Neon Creek come from? 

A branch of a river flowed through out town called Kress Creek that was contaminated by Radioactive waste from a factory that closed down in the early 70's. Later it was discovered that the company that owned the factory buried that waste all over town. There was old urban legend was that if you flew over Chicago, our suburb was the only one with a greenish glow from all the radiation. Obviously someone made that up but that is where I get Neon Creek. 

3.) We're you affected by it?

 I don't think I was but I remember a lot of things. I remember Geiger meters around schools and parks. I remember a landfill that was fenced off that the residents called "Mt.Thorium" because it was filled with radioactive material. I remember in highschool crews in hazmat suits beginning the clean up process of the old factory site in the 90's. I remember the trains hauling the waste away, it literally took them 30 years. The last shipment was hauled away in 2015. Most Of all I remember a group of local citizens banding together to fight at the local, state, and federal levels to get it all cleaned up and I write about that in the record. Most of the citizens today either dont know about it or are over the whole thing, I approach it as a historical piece. In the song "Junction" I sing "the last train to leave town, I'm asking you to open your heart and save our sacred land" I'm referencing the fact that they are hauling this junk from one place on our planet to another place on our planet. It may be in the middle of Utah somewhere but it's still someone else's problem. It's still another generations problem. I think there's a lot of that even today in other environmental clean up sites. West Chicago's story is repeated all over the country and so a couple of the songs are a little bit protest songs in nature, calling on protecting our environment. 

4.) let's talk about the radiation scare the only thing your album is about?

Not at all. I also wrote about how awesome it was growing up here. It's founding as a booming railroad town and how the early railroads brought a ton of immigrants here in the 1800's. My parents themselves are immigrants from Mexico and there is a flourishing Hispanic population here. I sing about all that. I live in Chicago now but I still visit the home I grew up in every weekend and I have so many wonderful memories growing up here that I had to write this record about it.

5.) where did you record the album and with whom? 

There was only one guy that I knew could do this record and that was Jamie Candiloro whos the LA based veteran record producer that did the Vintage Blue (my former band) but hes worked on records with REM, Ryan Adams, Ed Kowalczyk of LIVE, Red Wanting Blue, just to name a few, he has a knack for caputruring that certain sound, and he gives all is clients, large and small 110%. Our collaboration was so smooth, it shows on the first record!

VINO: Acoustic originals, that can tug at the heart-strings~Songs with a soul~Blood harmonies, guitars, banjo, & harmonica~Cousins, Chris & Mike Vinopal~Chicago

Mike first met Chris, shortly after his birth on Christmas Day, 1982 in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago. Chris at that time was precisely 1 month, 15 days old, having just been born himself on November 10th of the same year. They became immediate friends in a massive close knit Vinopal family. Music was always around, and in 8th grade, they wrote their very first songs and started their very first band, Frozen Fire. This led to subsequent bands with terrible names. The Happy Fishermen. The Phishermenz. And of course, the best band in the lando, Fred Bando. A full decade after graduating high school and living on opposite sides of the country, Mike & Chris returned to Chicago and began writing songs as V I N O, and this time the songs were good. Not just good, but great! Classic and familiar while remaining unique, creative, and emotive. Selections from all 3 EP's can be found streaming on SoundCloud while the duo continues to record original songs for an upcoming release. In the meantime, listen at: