To hear bandleader Phineas Gage tell it, the Chicago quartet 20 Mark Helga takes its name from “the German prostitute my mom thought my father hired in Berlin back in the day” (the Deutsche Mark predating the Euro as German currency, of course). And this kind of historically minded, gently ribald barroom humor permeates the band’s earthy/underground take on classic rock, bringing to mind what may be Chicago’s version of Minneapolis-to-Brooklyn transplants the Hold Steady.
A veteran presence on the local scene, guitarist-vocalst Gage formed the band with bassist Evan Faassen and drummer Joe Versino, eventually completing the group with former Rule 42 member Steve Olson on acoustic guitar. The band has been gigging out since the spring of 2008, and it’s gearing up to record its debut album. In the mean time, it’s posted the live demos for several strong tunes, including “Eclipse” and “The Great Divide,” on its MySpace page at www.myspace.com/20markhelga1.