Katie Trupiano jokes that the current lineup of her group Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers came together due to parental assistance.
“Our mothers formed the band, basically,” the singer and guitarist cracked prior to a recent rehearsal for the Americana band at her Ottawa home.
Trupiano’s mom, Diane Stevenson, is friends with Bonnie Terrones, whose son, Ty, also is a guitarist and vocalist. About five years ago, the mothers arranged to have their children meet at a party, and the kids soon started playing together.
Five years later, Trupiano, Terrones and four other local musicians are preparing for the Oct. 1 digital release of “After the Flames,” the group’s fifth album. It will be available on all streaming and downloading platforms.
Between performing, rehearsing and performing, the Belle Rangers spend as much time together as many siblings.
“I see these people more than I see my own family,” said bassist John Nicoli.
Yet the Belle Rangers don’t seem to mind the time together.
“It’s like it’s just a vacation. We have a lot of fun,” Trupiano said.
Band members include Trupiano, lead vocals and rhythm guitar; “Duffelbag Joe” Trupiano, banjo and vocals (he’s also Katie’s husband); Terrones; Nicoli; Dick Verucchi, drums, percussion; and Christina Marie Eltrevoog, guitar, harmonium, vocals.
All reside in Ottawa except for Verucchi, a longtime Peru resident.
The band’s origins extend nearly two decades, when it was based in Chicago and released the CD “St. Mary’s Hotel.” The lone member still with the band is Katie Belle.
“That was our ‘old-time country phase.’ We’ve developed a great deal,” she said.
Promotional materials for Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers describe the group’s sound as “equal parts outlaw country and heavy metal,” as well as “roots rock shaped by earthy tones and riveting tales.”
For band members, describing a particular sound isn’t as easy as writing something on a press release.
“We’ve brought in so many styles of music that it’s hard to pigeonhole us,” Trupiano said.
“We just play what we like,” Terrones said.
One description of Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers is accurate — original.
Every song on “After the Flames” was written by group members.
“And there’s more of where that came from,” Trupiano said. “Everyone does the arranging and it isn’t done until everyone else weighs in.”
One example is the tune “Soper’s Plea.” Trupiano said when the group first started playing the composition, it was done in a Irish waltz style, but by the time Verucchi took over the beat it turned into a rock tune.
Verucchi has played in roughly 20 groups — including Buckacre, the Starved Rock Country-based band that gained national attention in the 1970s — since his first gig in 1964.
“I haven’t really stopped,” said Verucchi, a member of three bands who originally was recruited to play one gig with Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers. “Katie and I have played before, but we started rehearsing and we kind of became a member of this band. There aren’t many people willing to just play original music.”
Joe Trupiano said the band has so much more original music that it soon might return to the studio and record another album. Katie Trupiano said the group’s fans are getting more acclimated to shows dominated by original tunes.
“The covers are a lot of fun,” Verucchi admits. The group will play “If I Only Had a Brain” from “The Wizard of Oz,” a bluegrass version of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and Melanie’s “Brand New Key.”
Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers perform in local clubs and bars as well as a few Chicago venues. The next chance to catch the group will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Vintage Illinois Wine Festival in Matthiessen State Park, Route 178 south of Utica. Visit vintageillinois.com to learn more.
The official “After the Flames” release party will begin 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Uptown Grill, La Salle, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Admission will be $5, with CDs sold at half price with ticket stubs. Advance tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite.com, as well as at the door.
“The Uptown is a nice room,” Trupiano said. “We play a lot of noisy, fun bars, but for this event we wanted a nice place where we could be heard.”
Opening to Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers will be Matthew Michael and Christina Marie, featuring Marseilles’ Matthew Pittman on mandolin along with vocalist Eltrevoog, who describes herself as “an adjunct member” of the Katie Belle group.
“This is the best of the two albums with this lineup. It’s a snapshot of what we are right now,” Nicoli said.
KATIE BELLE and the Belle Rangers will perform 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Vintage Illinois Wine Festival in Matthiessen State Park, Route 178 south of Utica. Visit vintageillinois.com to learn more.
A CD RELEASE PARTY for their new album “After the Flames,” will begin 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Uptown Grill, 601 First St., La Salle. Opening act will be Matthew Michael and Christina Marie. Visit eventbrite.com for ticket information.
WINGDING FOR MORE INFORMATION on Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers, visit katiebellemusic.com and Katie Belle Music on Facebook and Instagram.
WINGDING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION about Matthew Michael and Christina Marie is available at mmcm.band and on Facebook at Matthew Michael & Christina Marie.