The long-running northern Michigan band with a jam, funk, rock and bluegrass vibe makes its Local Spins Wednesdays debut this week at Grand Rapids’ SpeakEZ Lounge. Get the back story, watch their videos.
THE BAND: Soul Patch
THE MUSIC: A blend of roots, reggae, funk and jamgrass
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE BAND: 8 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 6) at SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids; Dec. 15-16 at Union Street Station in Traverse City; Dec. 31 at Rare Bird Brewpub in Traverse City (New Year’s Eve show with Turbo Pup)
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For 14 years, Traverse City’s Soul Patch has created what it calls “conscious groove” music aimed at “uniting the masses on one common frequency” at its shows.
“We’d say, ‘We are a little rock, jam, reggae, funk and bluegrass mixed together,’ and people would say, ‘Cool,’ with a confused look on their faces,” said lead singer and rhythm guitarist Christopher “Wink” Winkelman.
“Many folks tell us we lighten their days and nights, lift them up when they’re feeling down or simply love what we do and feel the love radiating from the stage – which is always our goal, to unite the masses on one common frequency, where we are all one, moving and grooving, organic dance machine.”
Suffice to say, the band – Winkelman, lead guitarist/banjo player Adam T. Sleder, drummer Marc “Animal” Alderman, bassist Chris “CB” Belanger and trumpet player Stephen “Scooba Steve” Berg – brings an upbeat vibe to its live shows, exuding a lot of “love, positivity, consciousness and laughter” through performances of “rare” covers and original material.
The band will bring that approach to SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids for the first time on Wednesday as part of the Local Spins Wednesdays series. The show starts at 8 p.m.; admission is free. (Listen to a sneak preview at 11 a.m. Wednesday when the band appears on WYCE 88.1 FM.)
ALWAYS EVOLVING, EXPANDING WITH MICHIGAN WATER IN THEIR VEINS
The origins of Soul Patch extend back to 2003 when Winkelman met Michigan mandolinist Mike “Mando” Peck at “a little hippie fest” and immediately hit it off, jamming for hours together. As much as he enjoyed the experience, Winkelman was set on being a solo act – until Peck convinced him otherwise.
“He was relentless with phone calls and voice mails, urging me to jam more with him – to which I replied, many thanks, but I am sticking with the solo thing for now. After two-and-a-half weeks of calls, I caved,” recalled Winkelman, 41, noting the Soul Patch duo played its first official gig at 2003’s inaugural Hoxeyville music festival.
Eventually, Soul Patch added other musicians to the fold and solidified its lineup, though Peck retired from the band in 2014 and later suffered a stroke. “Without Mando, none of this would’ve happened, so we love him more than words,” said Winkelman, who paid homage to Peck in the bridge of Soul Patch’s song, “Happy Party,” which closes out the band’s full-length 2016 album, “Dirty Work.”
In addition to “Dirty Work,” Soul Patch’s discography includes a 2007 live album and 2011’s 15-track “Soul Patch is Neat.”
For Winkelman, Soul Patch represents a musical project that’s “always evolving,” a thoroughly independent, self-managed band of musicians between the ages of 35 and 45 who espouse “nothing but hard work, honesty, sweet conscious grooves and handshakes.”
TAKING PRIDE IN THEIR ‘MUSICAL BROTHERHOOD’
“We are all Michigan boys,” he says of band members grew up in Cadillac, Suttons Bay, Glen Lake, Lake Leelanau and Grand Rapids, “and the fresh water and resilience runs through our veins. … We have no plans of stopping anytime soon. (We’re) always expanding our music that we listen to, write and play, always making every show a new experience for us as musicians and the audience as listeners.”
The band plans to continue touring the Midwest, with an eye on recording a five-song EP in 2018 while juggling some intriguing day jobs: Alderman is a schoolteacher and facilitator of the Deep Blue Water Samba School, Belanger manages a winery tasting room, Berg operates Little Fish Wood Works and Sleder is a bar manager.
While they haven’t been able to turn Soul Patch into a full-time career, Winkelman said they’ve enjoyed “lots of love, laughter, musical partnership, growing, learning, grooving and loving the life we have made for ourselves in the beautiful place we call home in Northwest Michigan.”
Winkelman credits Michigan’s music scene – and its “great new and legendary spaces to play” – for inspiring the band, specifically citing mentors such as Songs of the Lakes, New Third Coast, Lake Affect, Kurt Westie, Claudia Schmidt and Dick Segal.
“We take great pride in all we’ve done, warts and all,” he insisted. “Our lives have been roller-coasters, to which we’ve shared the ride together. We are a musical brotherhood and family that is unlike any I’ve experienced to date.”
VIDEO: Soul Patch, “Ganja Babe”
LISTEN: Soul Patch, “Rise Up, Unite”
VIDEO: Soul Patch at Fountain Point Resort
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC