Trevor Menear made his debut to most people in 2007 on Yoko Ono and Warner Bros. joint effort Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.  Along with 50 other artists which included Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, Regina Spector, Jakob Dylan, The Cure, Jackson Brown and U2; The 22yr old Chicagoan recorded his take on Lennon’s “John Sinclair” using an early 30’s antique Meissner record lathe, cutting directly into a vinyl acetate. The raw introduction proved enough to set him apart from the rest of the cast, foreshadowing the classic roots inspired nexus of his original writing.

 

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trevor Menear showed an early interest in music ever since he could remember.  Although many styles of music were present throughout his upbringing, his first notable memories were of the Motown records his mother played regularly around the household, a small drum kit his father bought him for his second birthday and a gospel song lead by the cast of the popular sitcom, The Jeffersons during a X-Mas special.

 

Menear’s Father, a standup comedian and local radio personality, moved the family to Chicago when Trevor was two. One of his commemorations to his cult following entailed fronting a parody-driven cover band. Alongside Trevor’s mother singing backup vocals, he often joined them with a plastic microphone when they rehearsed in the basement of their small Chicago home.  Despite the hysterical satire and on-stage antics, Trevor gained an early appreciation for a variety of bands and artists like Little Feat, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Frank Zappa and The Beatles - all of who’s songs were woven into the off-kilter comedy jam.  

 

By age 10, the alternative grunge scene was dominating the airwaves in the early 90’s. Menear still sites Kurt Cobain’s unique ear for melody and lyrics as having a dramatic impact on his writing to this day, but it wasn't until hearing a Jimi Hendrix song in the film Apollo 13, that Trevor expressed an avid interest in learning the guitar.  Intrigued by Hendrix’s innovative style, he immersed himself in Hendrix's music, along with a vast array of other guitarists - one being slide extraordinaire, Duane Allman.

 

Trevor fronted several bands throughout his grade school years and into high school.  He took note of Allman’s appreciation for jazz music after reading an interview where Allman praised the great Django Reinhart. This eventually propelled Menear to study jazz performance at University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  It was here, that Trevor sites his musicianship really maturing and soon found himself taking on several musical projects and playing with the likes of other diverse talent around town. Ironically, in 2005, Trevor became a state finalist for Tennessee in The John Lennon Songwriting Completion.

 

After two years at the University of Tennessee, Trevor returned to Chicago to become more involved with his own writing and performing locally. The transition from sideman to solo artist lead him to land an opportunity on Warner Bros. Instant Karma and ultimately, gave way to his debut album - Introducing Trevor Menear, released by indie label, Shangri-La Records. The semi-mainstream introduction revealed an accessible blues-pop hybrid. Menear’s expressive vocals, bolstered by his plangent, nuanced guitar work, conjured up images of his musical heroes.  Menear followed with the sophomore release, Some Kind of Sunshine, offering the same raw blues based formula and many other eclectic sources of inspiration in between. One of those inspirations was bassist and co - producer Billy Mohler, and to his credit, the album received many positive reviews:

 

“Destroyed & equally energized by its musical versatility, it’s a young songwriter’s coming of age. Bold singer-songwriter classism dressed up in nasty guitar tones & jazz drum/percussion from the get go. The songs are as soulful, confident and complete as anything I’d heard from a male singer-songwriter in very long time. The guitar playing something from another planet; emotional, raw, smooth, brutal, jazz, punk rock, folk, r&b and blues all melting together. It’s the blues for sure; but it’s also the kind of ambitious record that triggers childlike moments playing the air guitar, imaginary drums and other kinds of ridiculous, joyous motions–anti-blues moves. This record is soul science, child’s play, a blues bomb, a face shredder, a pop tarte, a tear trigger, a folk fister and a heart pumper. For all of the genre-hopping it attempts & succeeds at, ‘Sunshine’ is just a deceptive, drop-dead, beautiful pop record created by an old midwestern soul tipping its creator’s hat to influences past & to the miles ahead – still unknown and searching.” – Andy Whorehall via Sock Monkey Sound.

 

Menear has since followed with many independent releases and a handful of EP’s including - Boots For Alice, Stars & Furr and his most recent, The Conqueror Root. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Menear has played as a sideman locally and on his own with a varying pool of musicians including The Diamond Light, Reverend Tall Tree, Boom Boom Boom, LP and most recently DAWES.  He has performed at SXSW, CMJ, and has toured with Rock The Vote.  Menear’s music has been featured on the Showtime network’s Shameless series along with other shows such as Chicago Fire and FOX Sports.  Menear also works as a session musician and has scored independent films in his spare time.

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