is a Pittsburgh-based touring singer/songwriter. His music is a rootsy rock and alt-country, conceived in the spirit of American folk traditions.
Full Bio (Short Bio in EPK)
Not every great songwriter is prolific, and certainly not every prolific songwriter is great—but those who qualify as both tend to face a common challenge: How do you sort and classify a body of work that might span moods, styles and genres? What goes together, and what goes where?
Chet Vincent—frontman of The Big Bend and longtime notable in the pool of singer-songwriters in his hometown of Pittsburgh—has been living something of a double life on account of just that problem. There’s Chet the rock singer, leading the increasingly loud and raucous Big Bend on an entropic path over the years. Then there’s what you might call Chet the folk singer, honing his craft in the quieter corners of town, palling around with singer-songwriters who might not even realize The Big Bend exists.
Vincent’s latest effort, Where the Earth Opens Wide, is a product of the latter Chet, though you might say it bridges the gap between the two. For the nine-track album, released February 10, 2018 on Misra Records, Vincent dipped into both his catalog of solo tunes and an impressive crew of collaborators from across the city’s music community.
The album is at once familiar and original—familiar not because it sounds like Vincent’s other band, but because it draws from reference points like Neil Young, George Harrison and The Band. It’s sonically interesting, playing with echo and effects to create moods a solo artist can’t alone. At its heart, though, it’s still a roots-centered record, on a level bringing to mind what happened when John Cale hired the core of Little Feat to back him on Paris 1919: an album that stretches the boundaries of tradition, but refuses to abandon it.
The Big Bend
The Big Bend’s first albums had a definite country accent. Then, in 2015, the five-piece produced Unconventional Dog, a certified rocker. That full-length got the band attention from local radio, from Triple-A station WYEP to commercial rock entities WDVE and WXDX.
Chet Vincent has been kicking around Pittsburgh bars and clubs, playing in bands since he was a teenager. A regular fixture both at small open mics and at rock venues with The Big Bend, Vincent has quietly established a reputation as one of the city’s most dedicated figures. The payoff: Celebrate, The Big Bend’s fourth release, has the hallmarks of a career milestone, calling to mind early-‘70s Neil Young in its songwriting, with sonic elements straight out of Abbey Road-era Beatles.
"Celebrate," to be featured in Episode 7 of the new NBC series, Rise, gave the band plenty of reasons to pop a few bottles (besides Vincent’s nuptials to beloved Pittsburgh country artist Molly Alphabet, with whom he also collaborates musically). The album showed the band’s range -- from the first discordant, psychedelic notes of album opener “The Spins” through the closing bars of the stripped-down, folky “Su La Ley.”
Lyrically, too, Vincent continues to grow and find his voice. He’s always been a storyteller, weaving characters and situations into songs, but here he takes on social issues, both obliquely and directly, on songs like “Cut Us Down” and Fingertrap.”
Far from flaming out, Chet Vincent has spent years building up steam for this moment. Vincent is one of those figures who serve to show us that working hard and honing your voice really do pay off. Pittsburgh is already in on the secret of Chet Vincent; the rest of the world is on the verge of finding out.