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posted: 6/13/2012 6:00 AM

Buffalo Grove native's band opening for Bruce Hornsby

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  • Van Ghost opens for Bruce Hornsby this weekend at Park West.

    Van Ghost opens for Bruce Hornsby this weekend at Park West.
    Courtesy of Michael Komessar

  • Van Ghost's debut release is due out in July.

    Van Ghost's debut release is due out in July.

  • Video: Van Ghost video


When Buffalo Grove native Michael Berg and his Van Ghost bandmates chose the cover art for their debut release "Domino Effect," they probably didn't have any idea how serendipitous it would actually be.

The iconic image of snow-covered cars stranded along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive after the February 2011 blizzard was chosen, Berg said, because it happened just hours after the band finished principal recording of the album a few blocks away from where the photo was snapped.

"Five hours after we drove away from there, all those cars were stuck on Lake Shore Drive," he explained. "It kind of worked like a backward domino effect, where one car stopped and that stuck another car behind it, and another car behind it, and so on."

But on Sunday, there won't be any snowfall to stall the cars that will be using that same patch of road to come see Berg's band open for acclaimed singer/songwriter Bruce Hornsby at Chicago's Park West theater, also located just a few blocks away from where the album's cover art was taken.

Berg, a 34-year-old longtime music promoter, plays guitar and sings most of the lead vocals on the upcoming July 17 release, which he calls "Americana" music "instead of country." It's not the traditional sound expected from a native of the Northwest suburbs.

"I don't really have a fantastic answer for that," Berg said. "Southern rock pulls from a lot of blues elements, which are obviously rooted here in Chicago. We consider ourselves more in the Americana vein, which is being rooted in American music rather than just traditional country music."

Sunday's show at the Park West will be the band's fourth gig opening for Hornsby on his latest tour. Like Berg, Hornsby is an artist in his own right who has defied labels and still found success onstage and behind the scenes in the music industry.

Berg said his passion for music has always driven him to be a part of the business in some way. While he has enjoyed his behind-the-scenes work, Van Ghost is the most rewarding musical venture he's been a part of.

"It's obviously incredibly more fulfilling to be on the artistic side," he said. "Being an artist smokes any other gig in the industry."

There are also some fringe benefits to performing. While Berg has yet to turn on a radio and hear his band as part of a station's playlist, he's heard from friends that Van Ghost is getting airplay already.

"I've gotten a lot of text messages from friends who've heard it out there," Berg said. "It's getting some play in Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco. It'll be cool when it happens here."

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