Joe Borbely of Bloomington-Normal's Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles said Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam taught him to sing.
"As an awkward teenager, I recall listening to a lot of Pearl Jam. They were the first band I connected with, so Eddie kind of taught me how to sing ... in my car. I'm still learning how to let go of him and let myself be him," said Borbely.
Empty Bottles guitarist Mike Klug jumped in to say he too was an early Pearl Jam fan, and that he quickly identified with the band's multi-instrumentalist Stone Gossard. But now that Pearl Jam has become part of Jack Dupp's repertoire, he said he now identifies with PJ guitarist Mike McCready.
"It's like re-learning all these songs you've known and listened to a million times, but hearing them with new ears ... hearing them freshly, even though it's the same. You're hearing extra details that maybe you didn't notice before. Especially on the Pearl Jam "10 Redux" album, where you can hear all those little details they didn't have the money for that kind of production when it originally came out," said Klug.
Both members of Jack Dupp have been part of the The Bloomington-Normal music scene for a long time. It's a scene that had been somewhat scattered compared especially to peer local scenes in Champaign-Urbana and Peoria. Klug and Borbely said that has changed.
"The music scene in Bloomington-Normal was nonexistent ... forever ... it seemed," exclaimed Klug. "Sure there were a couple bands playing here and there, but there was never any people at any shows ... ever. And now, I feel like people are really turning out for shows."
Borbely said the catalyst was the re-opening of The Castle Theater in downtown Bloomington as a music venue six years ago.
"I've been a musician for a long time, but I wasn't playing music in the early 2000's. And I would go to the Canopy Club in Urbana often to see music. Now, to have a venue like The Castle in town, I think it puts the Canopy Club to shame. The history and architecture of the building are certainly a draw ... but it's a just a real cool venue to have here, we should be real proud of it," said Borbely.
Klug also credited local favorites Ed Anderson and Cody Diekhoff (aka Chicago Farmer), two artists with huge local followings that have grown into regional and national tours, as a big factor in the growth of the Bloomington-Normal music scene.
"Ed and Cody took this town kicking and screaming against their will and made a scene out of nothing. I feel their niceness and their personalities made the scene. They're such genuinely good people," said Klug.
You can see Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles and two other Bloomington-Normal based bands play December 16 at The Castle Theater for the McLean County Toys For Tots "Silver Ball" fundraiser. Chicago Farmer & Todd Hazelrigg will unplug Nirvana, Flaccid will cover the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles will tackle Pearl Jam. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., music starts at 7:30 p.m.