Here It Is - Our First Blog From Charlie Milkey!
(Worth the wait.)
Pix from their performance on "Live From Studio 5!"
Our annual Barry Thomas Goldberg and Friends Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Hannakah, Solstice (yadda yadda yadda) Bash
Patches and Gretchen.
I got my first taste of Patches and Gretchen several years ago, thanks to my friend Max Dakota. He was always seeking out the diamonds in the rough, sitting through show upon show to find the crème de la crème of the Minneapolis scene. Max was a guitarist himself, trying to navigate his own band through the deep waters of the scene, searching for friends to open for his own stellar show. How do I know it was so great? I played bass in that band, natch.
Anyway, I still remember the phone call I got from Max: “Charlie—you gotta check out this band—these cats are crazy!” With enthusiasm like that, I had to ask about them, “I want to go see them! Where are they playing next?” Max told me they were playing in a week, and that we’d be opening for them!
I arrived to the show a little early, because I figured I’d get lost, and lo and behold, the address Max gave me was a south Minneapolis gas station. I called Max to see what was going on and all he said was:
THIS IS PATCHES AND GRETCHEN.
We played the strangest gig of the band’s life: the show was an outdoor gig in a gas station parking lot. 5 bands were playing that day, with a large crowd (for a gas station) looking on, the bands played at the pump, while an unnamed videographer recorded the whole show from his laptop, streaming the video live to the internet. People were dancing, singing, buying gas, talking, and having a great time together. Experiencing Patches and Gretchen was really something insane—their songs were played perfectly, and their covers were on fire—at one point I believe the lead singer was singing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” in Dutch. This is a new world.
Patches and Gretchen is known for their guerilla-style gigs and head turning style. They show up to the show, give no less than 100% and leave you with a desire for more of whatever it is you just saw. This band doesn’t just carry on the rock and roll attitude, they ARE rock and roll.
At the center of this attraction is the charismatic Gretchen Seichrist. On stage, Gretchen doesn’t hold back—she doesn’t go where the music takes her, the music goes where Gretchen takes it, and she takes it on quite a trip. Danny Viper provides the music behind Gretchen’s lyrics, beating his white Telecaster into submission, playing every note as if it was his last. Gretchen and Danny provide the band’s core, expanding and contracting as they need, to fit the band’s extremely prolific mix of music.
I sat down with Gretchen and Danny, and right off the bat, I could tell—these are artists. They have a lot to say, and I only hope that I can fit half of what they said into a cohesive blog entry! The first thing I asked them about was their aptly titled “Death kick to the Head” tour. They went west, playing shows quite literally everywhere, including the South Dakota uberattraction, the Corn Palace, ending the tour opening for Bob Dylan in Rochester. Bob was impressed—he said this is as close to the real thing as you can get! On the road, they made stops everywhere, playing microconcerts at gas stations, rest stops, and tourist attractions and hotels, playing to everyone, and while the people were a little confused as to why a band a playing at a rest stop, they enjoyed the music.
Talking to P+G about their inspiration and writing process, they have a very enthusiastic and improvisational process. Gretchen really pushed the idea of “just go out and do it”. Rather than trying to play a song perfectly, embrace the mistakes and see where it leads you. Gretchen had a point that really hit me personally—she said, “Rock isn’t necessarily about playing the song perfectly. It’s about having that attitude, that fearlessness to stand up there naked with just you and your song. Mistakes will be made, but people aren’t going to remember that.”
I asked both Gretchen and Danny about bands on the scene that they really a lot of potential in, and they both said right away—Long Green. Unfamiliar with the band, I asked them to describe the band, and Danny described them as “Riverboat trash with Betty Boop vocals”. P+G is such a fan of this band that they are producing the Indiana duo’s EP in their own studio. Long Green has also been sharing the stage with Patches and Gretchen’s weekly residence at the Even Break Gallery, in S. Minneapolis.
A feature on Patches and Gretchen wouldn’t be complete without a second mention of the Even Break Gallery. When Gretchen isn’t making music, she is at her gallery painting. Her paintings bare a strong resemblance to her music: bright, eccentric, wild, and most importantly highly skilled. Definitely a great visit when you find yourself in South Minneapolis.
The future is bright for Patches and Gretchen. This Friday (8/2) they will be headlining at the Eagle Club with the incredible Miguel Morte Valentine and Daniel Bonespur opening. It’ll be an amazing night of song, dance and fellowship. Patches and Gretchen also continue their residency at the Even Break Gallery, playing every weekend. Looking further out, P+G will be working on getting a mini-tour set up with the seminal downtempo triphop band, Orchyd.
Critical info on the Even Break Art Gallery:
Open on weekend mornings. Available during the week by appointment.
2311 West 50th Street Minneapolis, MN 55410
Check out Patches and Gretchen at http://www.patchesandgretchen.com or http://www.facebook.com/patchesngretchen