Bluesy - Rootsy - Soulful - Rock”

With the impending release of Denise La Grassa’s 9-song album Sundown Rising, it’s easy now to look back on how poem-songs she wrote as a wee child foreshadowed a late-blooming full-time music career. Those songs were just a warm-up for the spunky 5-year-old, who went door-to-door in her suburban Chicago neighborhood offering to sing and sell them to neighbors – right on their doorstep - for 25 cents apiece. Artist? Check. Entrepreneur? Check.

Fast forward a few years and now living in the small Wisconsin town of Baraboo, the audacious 9th grader accepted a challenge from the town’s legendary Circus World Museum to try breaking the world record for muscle grinds on the trapeze. She succeeded, securing for a brief time an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Denise landed in Chicago in her early 20s, where she stumbled upon the comedy and improv enterprise The Second City. She quickly worked her way into the touring company, honing her chops nightly at venues across the country. She also worked her way into Chicago’s vibrant music scene, performing for decades with her band at venues across the city.

A few decades on, Denise La Grassa is more creative than ever, and just as audacious. As she prepares to release Sundown Rising, the bluesy follow-up to her 2023 album The Flame, Denise shows no signs of slowing down from her 2022 transition to full-time songwriting and performance. That followed the closing of the 157-year-old private college where she led and revitalized the music program, a pivot she christened her ‘North of 40’ journey. As in, ‘can a woman … say north of 40 … follow her dream of returning to Europe to perform with her new band and new, bluesy sound?’

The Flame’s 10 songs of rootsy, rockin’, blues garnered airplay from nearly 70 radio stations nationwide - a major feat for a new, independent artist. She secured a Top-25 spot on the Roots Music Report Contemporary Blues chart, with the song 'Better Day’s Coming' soaring into the Top-10 on the singles chart.

Sundown Rising moves La Grassa’s further into what she calls “my take on the blues.” The gumbo of blues, roots, rock, and soul inspirations is obvious in her songwriting. But one can also hear her jazz background augmenting a fresh sound in today’s roots-rock universe. That vibe and her powerful voice have already captured the attention of Chicagoans at venues including Epiphany Center for the Arts, Hard Rock Café, Montrose Saloon, and Phyllis’ Musical Inn, among others. Blues fans at haunts in Milwaukee and downstate Illinois are also now paying attention. They too have become believers in this unlikely ‘North of 40’ journey.