Playing their final show in 2017, band members are now spread across the country, with the fronting duo Alex and Ashley McGrath performing and recording new music as Turtledoves.
Ethereal music enveloped the ebullient, wall-to-wall crowd at Grand Rapids’ Founders Brewing Co. in August 2014, unfurled by the seven-piece, space-folk ensemble The Soil & The Sun as it celebrated release of its much-talked-about studio album, “Meridian.”
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The popular West Michigan band had already racked up several Jammie Awards and was soon to be honored by Local Spins with album of the year honors for its signature “Meridian” release, the distinctive group’s third album which also sparked a national buzz and cross-country tour.
“This is the most exciting and probably most interesting thing we’ve recorded,” singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Alex McGrath said at the time.
But just two years later – in October 2016 – the band made the “difficult announcement” that it was splitting up and calling it quits after touring in 2017, suggesting that the music had “run its course,” signaling time for a new chapter to begin. The band already had winnowed from a seven-piece to a quartet.
Since then, one-time band members have spread out across the country, from Grand Rapids to Los Angeles, with the couple who fronted The Soil & The Sun – Ashley and Alex McGrath – launching a new, atmospheric, folk-hued musical project under the name Turtledoves in Cincinnati.
“Our last show ever was at the end of a sort of farewell tour we did in the fall of 2017. It was a really special time. The final night was in Harrisonburg, Va., which was very meaningful,” Alex McGrath said.
“Man, that last tour really meant a lot to me. So many people came out and shared stories with us about how much the music meant to them or helped them get through a hard time. I’ll always cherish that.”
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND A NEW MUSICAL PROJECT
These days, past band members Joanna Perry and Kellen Kirwin are “homesteading” in Florida, Michael Newsted is “making waves” as a photographer and designer in Los Angeles, William and Megan Campbell run Sand Lake’s Anvil Goods custom cabinetry and furniture business, Jacki Warren is part of the Grand Rapids indie-rock band Major Murphy, and Ben and Heather Baker Jackson “are raising” a family in Grand Rapids, McGrath said of the “diaspora” that’s become of The Soil & The Sun.
“We’re all in our middle 30s now, can you believe it? I think I was 28 when The Soil & the Sun called it quits,” he said, reflecting on the many memorable moments that marked the band’s legacy.
Those include “riding on the top of the bus through the redwoods,” meeting up with the drummer for Phish in Vermont, spotting the Oscar Mayer “Wienermobile” in Nebraska, and performing regularly at the Cornerstone Festivals and The Pyramid Scheme.
The Turtledoves now aim to create their own new memories, releasing a new single every month in 2023 and mounting a Midwest and East Coast tour in March.
Released earlier this month, listen to the first single of 2023, “Come On,” here.
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC