The Empty Pockets Do Oh! Darling No Harm At All

The Chicago blues outfit deliver a pretty fab cover of a Lennon–McCartney classic.

The Empty Pockets give Beatles fans the blues (in the best way possible) with their killer cover of Oh! Darling — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

The two-time No. 1 Billboard Blues-charting quartet are damn proud of their Chicago lineage. The Windy City is so closely associated with the blues that there is a whole genre subset named after it — Chicago Blues. This wilder and more rocking blues offshoot directly influenced 1960s British Invasion bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and many others.

For their latest release, the quartet salutes this across-the-pond blues exchange with a smoldering version of the seldom-covered Beatles song, Oh! Darling. The song was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studio 3, where Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and The BeatlesTicket To Ride were also recorded.

Photo by Sarah Larson.

“We are a blues band obsessed with The Beatles,” enthuses Josh Solomon. “We’ve played every neighborhood in Chicago, and we came up going to classic blues clubs like Kingston Mines, The Green Mill, Rosa’s, Legend’s, and Andy’s. There’s something universal about the blues, and also The Beatles. Wherever you are you can play songs from either catalog and everyone knows the music.”

The Empty Pockets fit into the song-oriented jam band scene, alongside Tedeschi Trucks Band, Larkin Poe, Martin Sexton, Duane Betts and Devon Allman. The band includes Josh Solomon on guitar and vocals; Erika Brett on keyboards and vocals; Nate Bellon on bass and vocals; and Adam Balasco on drums. They were formed in 2006 by longtime friends and jamming buddies Nate and Josh. The pair met Erika in a production of The Buddy Holly Story where Josh played Buddy, Nate played the bass player in The Crickets, and Erika was featured in the ensemble. Josh and Erika started dating and have now been married over 11 years. Adam joined the band in late 2017.

The quartet have made a name for themselves through their fierce commitment to organic recordings made without digital trickery, and their tireless national and international touring schedule. They average 100 shows per year, sometimes pulling double duty as folk legend Al Stewart’s backing band and his opening band.

Photo by Sarah Larson.

The Empty Pockets’ soulful and raw reading of Oh! Darling leans into the song’s groove and showcases Erika’s soulfully pleading vocals, which instantly lend it a bluesy quality. “The Beatles have a lot of blues songs, and this is definitely one of them — you can hear it in the chord changes and the melody,” Josh points out.

The song’s recording has origins in a 2019 U.K. tour backing Stewart where The Empty Pockets indulged all of their Beatles fantasies, including recording at Abbey Road. The idea of tracking at the legendary studio came from a surreal moment where Josh found himself talking to Alan Parsons while watching Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre perform. Parsons sparked the idea and offered the encouragement to book the studio, and even said they could drop his name as a reference.

The Empty Pockets recorded Oh! Darling during sessions for their previous album. Per usual, they tracked old school — live with no overdubs. Erika recorded her scorching vocal into the very same 1958 Telefunken condenser microphone Paul McCartney used to record many of his vocals in the 1960s.

Watch the video for Oh! Darling above, hear more from The Empty Pockets below, and get your fill on their website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Photo by Sarah Larson.