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The best kept secret in music


Patio is a band so stumped on how to describe itself that it’s tempted to pass out index cards to audience members asking them to describe the group in just one word.

But lead guitarist and singer Pat Willis came up with a definition straight out of the vending machine.

“I thought of a new one as I came down here,” Willis said, as he burst into an interview with the Quad-City band. “It’s called the Snickers bar. ‘Cause we’re kind of sweet and creamy and nougaty, but we’ve got this hard, nutty center — crunchy — and that’s the power-chord crunch.

“And it’s satisfying.”

Willis said another definition he’s liked is “the Motley Crue of jam bands.”

“I like the fusion of all three of those mentalities,” he said. “We do have a little bit of a jam-band thing, but people who hate jam bands like us. ... The Motley Crue thing, yeah, we’re a little bit of troublemakers — good-natured trouble, where we get really goofy. ... And the horns, you get the jazz thing in there.”

The six members who make up Patio come from a very curved family tree. Willis and drummer Erik Wilson were in the band Burnt McMelbatoast (which will have a one-night reunion next month), and started Patio a year ago, after Willis moved back to the Quad-Cities after eight years of living in Colorado.

In addition, several of the members also are in the jazz group TriTones.

“All the players interchange,” Wilson said. “I’ve been with the TriTones, and they’ve sat in with us.”

“The TriTones are an ensemble, and the definition of an ensemble is ‘interchangeable,’” said bass player Daniel Olds.

Sax player Derek Reid, trumpeter Aaron Garcia and keyboard player Alan Vrombaut round out the group.

The horn section sets Patio apart, Willis said.

“You don’t find too many horns in the area we’re at where there are power chords,” he said. “It’s kind of heavy and kind of jazzy.”

Patio performs Saturday night on a double bill with Parish Festival. Upcoming dates also include a River Roots Live after-party at the River Music Experience’s Redstone Room in August, and the second annual Strip Mines Festival in Sheffield, Ill., in July.

“From the second we start playing, people are dancing, people are into it,” Wilson said. “They have to kick us off the stage. Every place we’ve played, we play until they won’t let us play anymore.”

Willis said Patio wants its audience to have a good time, even if it means losing a formal stage presence.

“We’re not quite so concerned with going song-to-song-to-song on stage,” Willis said. “Most bands try to be so professional and tight. ... There’s kind of an intimacy in talking to a crowd like you’re at a party, like they’re one of you.”

Playing fast and loose could be dangerous, but Willis said the band enjoys walking on the tightrope.

“We really do still take chances that may incur a mistake or two here or there,” he said. “A lot of bands really work, I think, almost too hard on becoming too intricate and too multi-notey, instead of getting to the soul and the heart of the matter and connecting more.”

When Willis returned to the Quad-Cities and reunited with Wilson, it was like old times, the latter said. Within the first few weeks, the two had written 30 songs.

“Pat and I played so long together, and I know his music,” Wilson said. “I know what he plays, I know what he does.”

“It’s very telepathic at this point,” Willis said.

The band was ready to record a few months ago, but suffered a setback when someone broke into Olds’ vehicle and stole a laptop computer and $400 that was going to go toward studio time. But between offers that both Willis and Wilson have been given, a recording session may come in the near future.

Willis said there are great possibilities for Patio.

“It has all the potential to do more, and as long as we ride it like we should ... as long as we don’t derail ourselves like so many bands do, I see us hitting a bunch of festivals, and next summer getting into the bigger festivals,” he said.

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or Comment on this story at - The Quad City Times


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


There is a lot of experience wrapped up in Patio. Pat Willis (Captain Barney, BurntMcMelbaToast, Dagobah) teamed up with Erik "E-Dub" Wilson (BurntMcMelbaToast, Justin Morrissey & Friends) to start the new Patio with Dan Olds (Musical Outfits, The Tritones) and Derek Reid (The Tritones, Grotesk). After the foursome's first show in Moline, Illinois on February 4, 2006 they quickly gained popularity and became one of the Quad Cities' top original acts. In June of 2006 Patio recruited keyboardist Alan "Keys" Vrombaut of Tritones fame. Now they are working on their first CD and getting ready to hit the road...