Dakich & Steele and the story of “Chicago Bleeds Blues”

David Steele and Dave Dakich

David Steele and Dave Dakich

The opening track
punches into a
stomping drumbeat
that lays the
foundation for a
triumphant guitar melody.

In early 2018, Chicago musicians Dave Dakich and David Steele got together with the intention of making music for film and commercial productions. Two months and three recording session later, they had completed a full-length album that has been selling on Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YOUTUBE RED, Google Play, and a handful of other sites ever since.

Dakich & Steele’s Chicago Bleeds Blues is a diverse musical tribute to a genre that helped make the Windy City famous. Combining solid rhythms and spirited melodies, its eleven-tracks build on the theme without venturing into the kind of watered-down clichés often heard in tourist traps.

“The Blues is in Chicago’s DNA,” says Steele. “We really are trying to have each track have its own personality within the blues,” adds Dakich.



Both of the artists came into the project with bona fide music credentials. Dakich, the Director of Business Development at Chicago Recording Company, is a self-taught guitarist and bass player who has gigged with popular bands in venues throughout the city for decades. Steele, the founder and creative director at PendulumArts.com, is the grandson of a big band leader and the son of a jazz and session guitarist who began playing drums when he was six-years-old.

Besides helping them gain a superior level of musical know-how, the experience also taught them recognize the challenge in their inspiration.

The amp and drum kit heard on "Chicago Bleeds Blues"
The amp and drum kit heard on “Chicago Bleeds Blues”

“Blues was something that’s been lacking in my own personal catalogue,” explains Steele, who creates and sells music to advertising and film professionals for a living. “It’s a little bit of a gamble, but I have been having some good luck in the marketplace.”

Chicago Bleeds Blues transforms the pair’s organic grooves into digital arrangements consisting of, at the very least, a five-piece band.

The opening track, “Dig It,” punches into Steele’s stomping drumbeat with a four-count, minor key introduction that lays the foundation for Dakich’s triumphant guitar melody. In between, a horn section accentuates the up-tempo mood. It is liquid joy laced over groovy confidence.

To make most of the songs, Steele would sketch tempo and chord changes into a foundation that set a mood. “Major is happy and minor is kind of melancholic,” he says.

Dakich would populate the backgrounds with melody. “We are trying to tell a really musical story,” he explains. “Trying to play from the heart on everything.” He played one of two guitars for most of the songs on the album.

“My number one guitar is the Ibanez semi-hollow body for warm bluesy tones,” he explains. “I also played a custom (Fender) Stratocaster with a Tele (Telecaster) neck built specifically for slide guitar, which offers microtonal qualities that really help emulate a human voice.”

This is essential to his role as narrator.

“Dave plays his leads and the leads tell a story,” explains Steele. He backs up the guitarist with a 5-piece Slingerland kit surrounded by Zildjian Turkish cymbals that “recreates sound of the 60s and 70s.”

“It’s black maplewood,” he continues. “I’ve been using that sucker all my life.”

To get an authentic sound, they pumped the guitar through a mid-60s Fender Princeton amp that, according to Dakich, is “very difficult to reproduce that digitally.” Just like the drums and guitars, this equipment was made in the previous millennium.

“It’s known as a Holy Grail type of tube amp,” Dakich continues. “It has a special kind of warmth and natural overdrive that combine to create a real organic sound.”

The amp belongs to David’s father, Ron Steele, Sr., who established himself as a legendary session guitarist before co-founding Chicago’s Streeterville Studios back in the early 70’s. He still admires the sound to this day.

“Every time my dad stops by the studio, he keeps threatening to bring it back home,” says David.

On Chicago Bleeds Blues, Dakich and Steele simply played whatever felt good. The results speak for themselves.

“We’re in release and discover mode,” says Steele. “We kind of hope that people dig it.”

Send your latest hits to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.