Dennis J. Leise had spent the bulk of his music career playing in the clubs of Chicago, but got tired of having to pay through the nose for the privilege of performing, despite pulling in large enough crowds. He decided enough was enough and upped sticks and moved 25 miles away – to Gary, Indiana, famous for being the hometown of the Jackson Family.
Gary proved to literally be greener pastures for Dennis, who bought a small farm where he began raising pigs, goats, and chickens, among other animals. He was starting life all over again, and while listening to Gospel music on the radio one Sunday, the thought came to him that it was possible to believe in the music without necessarily believing in God. He then locked himself away and wrote what, as far as he is aware, was the first ever Atheist Gospel songs. Taking the power of Gospel music with its roof-raising uplifting rollicking tunes, his songs are about just being good because, well it just feels good to be good. And there’s some truth in that: rather than attributing our own behavioural choices to external forces, we need to acknowledge our own culpability in it all.
‘Nobody’s Comin’ is a classic hymn in style, with the very genuine feeling of longing in Leise’s solo vocal, and empty-room piano. Soon however he’s joined by drums doing a swift shuffle, organ, electric guitar, and some backing vocals doing the time-honoured call-and-response so prevalent in Gospel songs. Leise runs the whole gamut of emotions, flipping between joy, excitement, and oh so cautious optimism in this foot stomper of a track, which is the first single from his latest album, the rootsy ‘State Of Fairs’, released through Towering Gringo Records.
The music video for ‘Nobody’s Comin’ shows off Gary as the fabulous place Leise has grown to love. With director Rob Fitzgerald at the helm, the clip starts out on Dennis’s farm, where, in character as The Preacher, his flock is his actual flock…of animals.
Gorgeously lit, we follow Dennis to City Methodist Church, a tumble-down historic landmark in Gary and in fact all of Indiana, which would have been glorious in its heyday. Once inside he dances around amid the graffitied stones and rubble, and shares that rather than going to church on Sundays we might have been better off getting into the community – and picking up some trash.
I challenge anyone to listen and not be instantly cheered by Dennis’s upbeat vocal and his custom-build washboard guitar (I want!). It’s challenging and confronting, not to mention thought provoking – but does it all with an easy humour that at the same time calls us to be the change that the world needs. ‘Nobody’s Comin’ – we need to take responsibility for our own actions. It’s the perfect song for the new year and new decade.
Watch the video for ‘Nobody’s Comin’: