Amberly Mae-Cooper, Contributor
On the stroke of midnight on Sept. 11, the electrifying sound waves from the band, Violet Palms, was released into the world. Twelve songs from the band’s debut album, “Compassion Fatigue”, were celebrated on the renowned stage at Slowpoke Lounge and Cabaret in downtown Spring Green, in preparation for the marked, midnight release.
The fall evening held a crispness in the autumn air and the Slowpoke Lounge was brimming full of people, gathering together at the warm and cozy music venue for the evening’s exciting musical performances to celebrate the anticipated album release.
Opening for the Violet Palms was another local band—Alys and the Ark. Alys and the Ark is comprised of band members Alys Dickerson, Ron Roman Melendez, Patrick Michaels and Phoebe Gonzalez.
Alys and the Ark made its own debut that evening and ascended the stage together, marking their first time to ever open a show. The emerging stars shone from the stage with Dickerson’s smooth, rich and soulful voice emanating from the stage.
Capturing beautiful harmonies that filled the room with deeply resonating heartfelt songs; Dickerson and fellow bandmates Melendez, Michaels and Gonzalez continued to captivate the audience with a soulful performance.
The passionate display had everyone swaying rhythmically to the music. Enthusiastic cheers echoed through the crowd after each song. The nourishing and soulful vocals met the grand instrumental expression as the band performed for moments that seemed to stand still in time. Reminding the audience of the power of the sung word and the impact of heartfelt ballads; Alys and the Ark regaled the audience with breathtaking music and will certainly continue to shimmer and shine.
Dickerson is the lead singer for the band Alys and the Ark. She and the Violet Palms lead singer, Marcus Truschinski, are connected through the American Players Theatre, where Dickerson has taken the stage as an gifted actor and now holds the title of Artistic Associate; a new and exciting role for Dickerson.
Alys and the Ark were thrilled when they were invited to open for the Violet Palms on their special night; marking the release of the debut album.
Dickerson has always had a love for singing and acting with a supportive family; including her parents and younger sister. Having provided continued encouragement early on and helping to pave the way for Dickerson’s past and current artistic endeavors.
“My father and mother are big musical influences; I grew up singing in church and have always found a way to do music…My dad was a singer and stage personality,” said Dickerson. “My dad and mom tell me to keep singing and keep praising the Lord through my music. I feel like my family believes in me; in everything I choose to do.”
Alys and the Ark used inspiration from Noah’s Ark and a true mission to make music. Bandmate Patrick Michaels’ land held a big red barn on his berry farm where they eventually built a stage within the barn, which became The Ark, a place where Dickerson says, “we often jam and create music; at the Ark, our mission is that, we invite people in and invite people to create.” The Ark remains a special place and continues to host music nights and jam sessions.
Michaels had met Dickerson pre-pandemic and the two “started jamming together,” so creating the band felt like a natural formation.
“After years of jamming out and continuing to make good music,” said Micheals at the show. “We are absolutely happy to be here tonight, opening for the Violet Palms.”
Dickerson cites the Violet Palms as having been impactful in the creation of Alys and the Ark.
“We all met when they asked me to play with them back in the pre-pandemic days. We would all just make music and jam. The Violet Palms have had a vision for a long time and I am glad that they influence the Spring Green music culture so heavily,” said Dickerson. “We are just so glad to be here tonight, it’s been great.”
After the short intermission and a thrilling moment of anticipation, the Violet Palms took the stage.
The stage at the Slowpoke Lounge was aglow with the vibrant and intense music emanating from the members of the Violet Palms: Truschinski, Ben Feiner, Craig Benzine, Tim Gittings and Michael Mertens.
As the lyrics struck the air with a true rock and roll force; a crowd full of adoring and ever-loving fans applauded the night away, riff after riff, song after song as the band played the night away. Between the music and the silence in-between, the Violet Palms sought and triumphantly won the heart of the audience, song in and song out. The emotional lyrics wove through the air meeting the musical chords solidly creating powerful songs. The thick crowd stood together applauding the Violet Palms for all they were, all they are and all they will become, in a final applause for an evening well done.
The story of the name of the band, the Violet Palms, ended up having mysterious and interesting roots. Initially, the name the Wild Palms appealed to lead singer Truschinski while contemplating possible names for the band. William Faulkner’s beloved, The Wild Palms, released in 1939, was meaningful to the singer.
However, upon further investigation, Truschinski found that another band already existed with that name but the essence of the name remained in Truschinski’s heart. He recollected a moment during a trip with his family to Florida where his beloved wife Tracy Arnold had a photograph of a palm tree taken on her phone, and was using a purple filter and the moment resonated.
Then, some time later Truschinski, still in search of a band name, came upon his wife in their kitchen over the sink, sifting and going through blackberries in the sink; the deep, dark, purplish juices covered her palms. The fruitful moment sparked in Truschinski’s mind and led him to reach out to band member and good friend Feiner; between the stories told and moments that followed and thanks to Truschinski’s dear wife, the Violet Palms had the name that they had been searching for.
For Truschinski, embracing the role as actor and musician has felt seamless. He and his wife are well known as prolific actors that grace the stage of the American Players Theatre. Truschinski continues to act in the vibrant plays on stage and his music has brought him to stand solidly upon many new stages while playing live music for crowds.
“Classical plays are all about musical elements. I have always loved music and have always loved acting; acting and music make me the most content” said Truschinski.
Truschinski met Feiner through a mutual friend, director Jack Waley, who thought the two of them would connect in friendship over music and other similarities. Through that connection, the early stages of the Violet Palms began forming and taking shape. Both Feiner and Truschinski serve as principal songwriters for the band. With the kitchen table in Truschinski’s home serving as a foundational pillar for song writing with many, “kitchen sessions,” taking place at the heart of the Truschinski household.
“Ben (Feiner) is a really prolific writer,” said Truschinski, “We are really able to get a lot done and accomplished at the kitchen table.”
“A perfect song is not perfect,” said Feiner. “But when we feel like we have a good song, we feel that it resonates with both of us; we think it will resonate with other people too. We just want to write good songs.”
Truschinski and Feiner had worked on other musical projects prior to forming the Violet Palms. For Feiner, a new type of musical collaboration began emerging.
“I just started doing more rock and roll riffs,” explained Feiner. “It all came to this. We are really glad to be playing together. We have great guys working with us; Ben Michael, Craig Benzine, Michael Mertens…it’s been great. We are really a no-frills band. We don’t use a ton of effects.”
The Violet Palms has been playing live at many local stages over the course of the last few weeks and hopes to continue playing live shows.
“It’s been great doing all the shows; it’s really teaching us how to play different events and to grow into different places,” said Truschinski.
In regard to the making for their first album that they recorded at Blast House Studios; the twelve-song debut album was something Truschinski said, “we did it relatively quickly but we really wanted to put out something that represents who we are.”
The celebration for the night was the jubilation of the release of the debut album and brought the appreciation of the band members whose friends, family, loved ones and fans filled the venue with vigor and enthusiasm making a night filled with excitement and memories.
“The fact that people came out to support us is just wonderful. We are so thankful,” said Truschinski. “It’s the most fun that I think we have had. We look forward to doing more music.”
Truschinski says the Violet Palms will be continuing to return to “the kitchen table”, the recording studio and performing live shows for all.
The Violet Palms upcoming shows:
Eliza’s Lounge in Mineral Point on Sept. 23
And closing out the season at the Sh*tty Barn on Oct. 13
Compassion Fatigue is available to purchase and stream in full at violetpalms.bandcamp.com and streaming everywhere.