Band Spotlight
February 13, 2013 • 08:44:56 p.m.

‘Idol’ alum forms the Gray Havens, a narrative-pop-folk duo


Dave and Licia Radford (Photo provided)

Described as a narrative, Dave Radford’s brand new album culminates a musical journey that began for the Crystal Lake native nearly seven years ago on American Idol.

Then 17 and known as “David,” Radford became “the crooner” as his renditions of songs by Frank Sinatra and the like earned him a Top 24 finalist spot in the fifth season of the popular Fox television show.

He went on to receive a degree in music education from the University of Illinois in Champaign, joined with Mike Potts to form the dueling piano group “Felix and Fingers” (, and opened a private vocal studio to teach area students.

His latest musical effort, perhaps, is his most personal, a reflection of the music he’s always wanted to make.

He and his wife, Licia, have formed the duo, the Gray Havens, and officially release their first EP, “Where Eyes Don’t Go,” on Jan. 25. An album release party will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at Evangelical Free Church, 575 E. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake.

Heavily influenced by jazz and accompanied by pop guitar and piano, the EP’s six tracks all have been written by Radford and are a “compilation of what we feel are our best songs,” he said.

“It’s kind of its own thing,” he said of the album. “What it really emphasizes is each song is a narrative, which is not common in a lot of pop music.”

The songs tell stories from the point of view of an outsider looking in, he said. He compared it to “a little bit of Andrew Bird meets Michael Buble meets. . . a little bit of Mumford & Sons.”

Described as a “narrative-pop-folk” duo, the Radfords were married in August. Licia lends her voice to the album, a voice that took Dave by surprise when he first heard it.

He describes her voice as “distinguished, soulful and reminiscient of Ingrid Michaelson and Zoey Deschenal,” which blends well with his own.

Produced and recorded in Nashville, Tenn., at ZodLounge, the album was funded through Kickstarter, an online fundraising website for creative projects. Radford sought to raise $7,500 to fund his project and ended up with $7,875.

Supporters even helped the duo find a name, based on a chapter title in the last book in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The Radfords are fans of author J.R.R. Tolkien, whom Radford said heavily influenced his writing.

“I was really surprised and pleased with the response we got from backers,” Radford said. “It’s been a really cool way to build a community, a tribe if you want to call it, of people.”

The EP is available now at and will be available Jan. 25 at

Along with Sunday’s release party, the Gray Havens are scheduled to perform from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Conscious Cup, 5005 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake.


Gray havens record-release party

WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 27. The Gray Havens are expected to take the stage at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Evangelical Free Church, 575 E. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake
TICKETS: Suggested donation at the door of $2 to $5
INFORMATION: Album release party for “Where Eyes Don’t Go” by the Gray Havens, a “narrative-pop-folk” duo from Crystal Lake featuring Dave and Licia Radford. Includes an opening performance by Nashville singer/songwriter John Cox. For more information or to preview the EP, visit EP available now at the group’s website, and will be available Jan. 25 at


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