Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons – Little Bird

Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons’ “Little Bird” marked the first full-length release I worked on for he and FUSE Recordings. Having handled all of Cory’s branding and design since 2004 in an effort to grow his career outside of the midwest, this release (2006) was important for one main reason: The collective goal with working with Cory (beginning in 2004) and FUSE Recordings was to land a distribution and/or label deal, and get he and his band on the road outside of the Illinois / Wisconsin region with the release of “Little Bird”. The gall of all of us involved with the making of this record combined with the direction of his career actually paved the way towards an end result that millions of kids never get— Cory got his break. “Little Bird” got the attention of RCA Records who signed him to a young artist development deal on their imprint label, Black Seal.

The process of directing and producing the artwork for this went through so many phases before we ended up on Brad Knapp’s press relations color photo of Cory singing. Cory initially wanted artwork produced, so I spent months producing dozens of illustrations which I ended up archiving. Once Brad’s photo was decided as being it by his then-management (FUSE Recordings), it needed tons of work and a stylized theme I was going for. The original photo was a colorful, professional Wheaties-Box ready photo. The packaging itself was decided to mimic an old record with the CD being the vinyl replica. Hence, stripping the photo down to black and white with rough noise filters applied to enhance an uncoated print process was directed and supplied on my part. Additional photography was provided by the band, myself, and others who were around the sessions and live gigs in those days for the inside spread.

It truly was a grassroots operation thinking back– very REM-esque with an all for one one for all approach that I’ve rarely experienced since. However, anything you could expect to go wrong after the release of Little Bird did– a general mismanagement of Cory’s career took shape after the release of “Little Bird”. Cory landed a young artist development deal. His west coast team decided to put more focus on photography shoots of he and Adriel, the sole female band member of The Wandering Sons, while escorting his image to Lucky jeans ads all-the-while silently dismantling the core of the The Wandering Sons, who remained on stand-by back home in Illinois and Wisconsin. A good band eventually evolved into two great backing bands for Cameron McGill and Miles Nielsen.

Little Bird was never re-distributed due to rights discrepancies between Cory’s camp at RCA and Fuse Recordings, Rockford, IL. Cory would go on to release a few solo releases with one sole member of the original Wandering Sons band, Adriel Harris, intact throughout his mismanaged adventures with RCA / Black Seal before they dropped him in 2012 for not selling enough copies.

I continued on helping Cory through 2011 on a few artistic-music related initiatives (web, merch) until my patience and tolerance for dealing with his manager expired whatever kindness and empathy I had left for Cory’s career after everyone else had been burned too. Midwest forgives— we don’t forget.

ClientCory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, FUSE RecordingsServicesDirection, Branding, Identity, Design,