From Chicago comes the return of Chip Ratliff (grandson of blues guitarist Herman Ratliff Sr.) with his first album in ten years titled "Resilient." This new funk-fueled 8-song album begins with the spoken-prayer of "Resilient," before Chip gets your body up and moving with the seventies funk of "Dance! Dance! Dance!" He continues with the horn-infused "Back When We Were Funky," then lays down the smooth R&B of "Somewhere Else Not Thinkin' (About You)." Chip Ratliff wraps up his new album with the blues/rock of "WhyDoYouDoWhatchaDo" and the spaced out jazz/funk of "DirtyBlu." - JP's Music Blog
Chicago based multi-instrumentalist Chip Ratliff brings the funk on his new album Resilient. All problems and issues disappear when he leads his musicians through brass-heavy rave-up tunes. He is fully aware that the world is far from perfect. Dancing the night away can recharge the batteries and might help to cope with the shit that is going on. Ratliff thinks that God is the answer, but his music is a far stronger (and real) medicine.
He listened closely to the classic funk music, putting the groove front and center. His slightly hoarse voice doubles as MC and lead singer, with two powerful backing vocalists helping him out. Resilient is a trip down memory lady for old school funk fans. Ratliff would have been a regular on American Bandstand back in the day. - Here Comes The Flood (Weblog)
Resilient is the new album from Chicago's Chip Ratliff. The eight tracks are a master class in everything funky. The album channels all the best influences from the likes of Sly Stone and George Clinton, with doses of Prince's rock sense. This was a very difficult review to write...because how the fuck could anyone possibly sit still listening to this album. Multiple dancing induced typos later, all we can say is, absolutely get this album or call 911, because you must be dead. - Floorshime Zipper Boots (Netherlands)
January 28, 1999
by Andrew Schroeder
(Note: This article was written when the band was called "Rhythm Lounge")
Unlike most kids, Chip Ratliff knew from the beginning what he wanted to be when he grew up. "I wanted to be the next Michael Jackson." the 33-year-old Evanston musician admitted. "I loved the way he danced."
It's a wish he might regret now (Note: Chip really does not regret this), but when Ratliff was growing up in the Englewood and Pullman districts of Chicago's South Side, Jackson and the soulful R&B tunes he sang with his brothers were red hot.
Nowadays, Ratliff's own music career is in full swing. His band, Chip Ratliff's Rhythm Lounge, recently released a six-song EP last year called "Welcome To The Rhythm", an eclectic combination of funk and R&B mixed with some Latin and Blues.
"It's the kind of music I love," said Ratliff. The band, which features Ratliff on bass and vocals, Patrick Doody on drums, Ladell McLin on guitar, Joel Barr on saxophone and Rusty Hall on keyboards, performs at 9 p.m., Saturday at Flatlander's Restaurant and Brewery, Olde Half Day Road and Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire. Call 821-1234.
Ratliff's grandfather, Herman Ratliff, Sr., played guitar in Memphis clubs with legends B.B. King and Muddy Waters during the 40's.
"The blues runs in my family," Ratliff said. He has never had any problems following tradition. He taught himself to play bass guitar and wrote his first song at age 5, a duet with his 6-year-old uncle, Fernando (Jones), called "Get Out Of Here". Although the tune didn't propel him to the ranks of child stardom, it did pique his interest in acquiring a musical instrument.
" I wanted to play the drums." he said. "But we didn't have any instruments so we had to use toys." Eventually Ratliff's father broke down and purchased a bass guitar, but not the drum kit his son wanted. The reason, Ratliff said, was that they lived in an apartment building and his father didn't want him to play an instrument that was so noisy.
"It broke my heart," Ratliff joked. As a student at the University of Illinois- Chicago in the mid 80's, Ratliff majored in Business Administration, but he was not intrigued by the idea of working as an accountant. "I wasn't studying anything that was interesting me," he said. "I wanted to study music, but it was like a fantasy. My parents wanted me to study something that would help me get a job."
The same uncle, Fernando, now grown up and a professional musician, lured him out of the classroom after two year with the offer to play bass with his group, Fernando Jones and My Band. The band played blues festivals, clubs and concerts.
"At the time we were traveling all around," Ratliff said. "I thought we were going to make it big." The break they wanted never came, but the band has stayed together. Still, in 1994, Ratliff decided to start a band on his own. "I wanted to go back to my funk roots," he explained.
The decision to go out on his own was a difficult one. "We were family," he said. "But I knew I needed to do my own thing."
On his own
In January, 1997, he formed the Chip Ratliff Rhythm Lounge to play the funk style of music that he grew up loving. "The goal is to eventually practice the music full-time," he said. "I want to be able to feed my family with this."
For now, he supports his wife, Johanne, and their two kids with a day job in the sales and marketing department of West Group, a legal publishing company in Deerfield (IL). He also continues to write songs, and has written more than 200 to date.
"Songwriting is a channeling experience," he said. "It doesn't always come from something that happens to me." Ratliff and his bandmates look forward to getting a record contract and continuing to perfect their funk style. "I'm going to keep going at it," Ratliff said. "It's a part of me. If I stopped playing, I'd be a totally different person."
Bringin' Down the House for Shorefront
July 14, 2004
Chicago area funk group "Chip Ratliff's Electric Chittlin' Stew" held a benefit concert for Shorefront's "Building A Legacy" on June 24 at Bill's Blues Bar, 1029 Davis St. Guests enjoyed funk, blues and a little rhythm & blues. The Building A Legacy" campaign raises funds for a home for Shorefront's Legacy Center, which will house Shorefront's growing collection of archives that help tell the history and contributions of the North Shore's African American communities.