Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Jim Bianco was closely associated with L.A.'s singer/songwriter boom in 2000, which gravitated around a venue called Hotel Café.
However, Bianco's life actually began in Brooklyn, New York; in his early years he studied piano and played bass in local bands. After finishing his education -- and a short time spent in Europe -- Bianco was invited by a friend to move to L.A. and join a band. Initially he stuck with bass, until the dissolution of the band persuaded him to learn guitar and practice singing, in order to lead a band of his own. His first big break came when he played a show at L.A.'s Hotel Café, then in its infancy, which led to a support slot for Gary Jules. Subsequently, Bianco, Jules, and The Hotel Café owners worked to establish The Hotel Café as one of the leading venues in L.A. for singer/songwriters. Bianco's full band formed in 2003, and consisted of Matt DeMeritt (saxophone, piano, flute), Brad Gordon (keyboard, trumpet, clarinet, accordion), Kenny Lyon (electric guitar), Jason Pipkin (drums), and Josef Zimmerman (upright bass). The following year they released their debut album, Handsome Devil. With The Hotel Café's popularity increasing they decided to launch a record label to release some of the artists who regularly played there; Bianco's sophomore album, Sing (2008), was the first album released on Hotel Café Records. Bianco quickly became renowned for his energetic and involving live performances; by the time of his third record, Loudmouth (2011), he had enough support from fans to crowdsource the album, which he did so via Kickstarter. Bianco's reputation for breaking the fourth wall between performer and audience was taken to new levels on his fourth album; during the early stages of Cookie Cutter, Bianco reached out to fans, asking them to share their stories so that Bianco could write songs directly about them. Seventeen fans were selected to complete a 69-question survey, and he used their answers to write the entire album. His fifth studio album, Forniquette (2016), took another unexpected turn; he expanded his entourage to a 12-piece brothel band who performed songs documenting, as Bianco himself put it, "ten tragic Stories of a girl gone wrong." ~ Liam Martin