The Woodlands (aka Patchouli)
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The Woodlands (aka Patchouli)


Band Pop Acoustic


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"Balancing Act"

When Julie Patchouli tells you to have a beautiful day – her trademark sing-off, always delivered in a low melodic tone- she sounds sincere.
It doesn’t matter if you’re catching her on the way out the door to a Chicago gig or your ending a conversation on the Maiden Rock deck jutting over the Great River Road where rumbling trucks and passing trains punctuate sentences.
Julie, who uses the surname of her husband, Bruce Hecksel, when thsy aren’t performing as the folk duo, Patchouli, maintains the aura of someone who has managed the balancing act she sings of in “Tightrope.“
One of ten tracks on Patchouli’s recently released seventh album., “once in the Ring” the song contains lyrics that sound as if they’re describing the duo’s life, which for the last year has been divided between weekend gigs in Chicago and weekday work in their home studio overlooking Lake Pepin.
My heart is in the wild/ My head is in the city/ My feet are moving everywhere.
Julie, who writes most of the lyrics and sings most of the songs, said the tune actually sprang from the chorus of the song “My god this dog is howling” – that was written as a joke and then resurfaced years later around a campfire.
While it wasn’t written to reflect current circumstances (most of album’s songs were penned on the road during the 2 years Patchouli spent living what they called a nomadic lifestyle) , Julie and Bruce agreed they require both the rejuvenation of the country and stimulation of the city.
“Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep that balance. Sometimes you find your inner dog howling,” Julie said as she unraveled and the reworked a thing braid of hair.
They aren’t promising any actual howling but Patchouli will promote audience participation when it performs Friday at The Acoustic Café. Julie and Bruce distribute handmade percussion instruments and ask the audience to join in the last song of the show.
During an early spring show at The Acoustic, Patchouli drew a crowd that ranged from college-age listeners clad in knit hats and sweaters to families with young children tapping to the beat of Bruce’s guitar.
“It gets pretty busy when they play, I think they have a lot of dedicated fans, “said Megan Zabel. She handles booking and promotions at The Acoustic, where Patchouli plays about every three months. “There’s usually not enough chairs.”
One Chicago area fan Susan Boucher, heard of Patchouli three years ago from her son, Don, now 23.
“Their music brings a lot of joy to me. It brings a sense of calmness to me that I can’t describe in words. Their music says life, love and happiness. It makes me feel good, “ Boucher said in an e-mail.
Fellow Maiden Rock resident Joanna Kadi lives just down the street from Bruce and Julie. She and Cynthia Lane comprise the percussion duo Black Iris, which has joined Patchouli on stage for shows in Maiden Rock and Stockholm.
“they put together meaningful songs. A lot of them deal with important issues of the day, like environmental issues, “ Kadi said by telephone.
While Patchouil’s music has a message, Julie and Bruce prefer the subtle approach.
“Our music really is about positive vibrations and healing and hope and putting those things out into the world, as opposed to commiseration,” said Julie.
“if you really want to help inspire somebody to change, instead of preaching to them, inspire people to change by creating a positive environment and living in a beautiful way, “ Bruce said.
Or example, Bruce said, the title track “once in the Ring” began when he was considering the mind-set of the Sept. 11 suicide bombers. That thought led to idea of a drum circle, in which participants eventually see how they are connected.
Like the wind laughs when it’s blowing the leaves around the yard/ If life’s just a game then there’s no need to play it that hard.
Julie 27, grew up in the Chicago suburb Medinah; Bruce, 37 grew up in the Twin Cities suburb Osseo. They met when he was a seminary student working as a counselor at the summer camp she attended.
Bruce, who had been studying folk guitar while he attended the seminary in Chiacgo, decided to pursue music after working for nine months as a Lutheran Pastor. Julie, meanwhile, had been studying environmental science.
They toured professionally for the first time in the West Coast folk –rock band Aunt Betsy after Julie left school her junior year. In 1996 they recorded their first album, “Strawberry Blues” as a duo.
Bruce and Julie have performed an estimated 800 shows- in small clubs, on college campuses and a community festivals- since they became full time musicians six years ago.
“We would much rather play for 10 people who were really interested in what we are doing (than for a large festival crowd), “bruce said as he sat crossed legged on a patio chair.
They record on their own label, Earthsign Records.
In Maiden Rock, the actual recording takes place in a small, cedar lined room that probably was a closet. Moving to Maiden Rock has allowed the p - Leader- Telegram Ann Barsness


Debut self titled album "The Woodlands" releases May 2009. Single "The Labyrinth" available digital on March 1st, 2009.

Past Projects Discography:
Terra Guitarra
Terra Guitarra Winter Solstice 2008 (LP)
Terra Guitarra (self titled) 2008 (LP)
The Summer Finding ER 2007 (LP)
Terra Guitarra ER 2008 (LP)
The Light Behind You ER 2006 (LP)
Once in the Ring ER 2005 (LP)
Come A little Closer ER 2003 (LP)
The Day We Let Go ER 2002 (LP)
Live at The House ER 2002 (LP)
Visions ER 2000 (LP)
Sunshine Baby ER 1998 (LP)
Strawberry Blues ER 1997 (LP)



The Story

It’s All About The Music
Bruce and Julie recorded their first jam session together on January 6th, 1993 in a church in Chicago. With Bruce playing an acoustic guitar and Julie on a 5gallon pail they discovered their desire to create music together out of anything and everything around them. That desire fueled their relationship as it grew out of this musical love they shared and keeps them grounded in the music they create still to this day.

Punk Rock Meets Poetry
Bruce Hecksel’s primary instrument is acoustic guitar. In addition to intense study in many styles from fingerstlye, flamenco, classical, jazz, flat picking, and folk, he studied concert piano, choral compositions and plays bass guitar and percussion on stage. But Bruce started his guitar adventure in a punk rock band named Be Safe Be Seen. At a Canadian music festival in 1991 his electric guitar and amp were stolen and he was left with only his acoustic guitar, which he took as a sign and never played an electric guitar again.
As lyricist and lead vocalist of Patchouli, Julie’s background is in words. She began reciting poetry when she was seven. She walked around with her steno notepad and recorded all her observations of her young life. Dabbling in violin, drums, and trombone throughout school she worked many of her poems into acapella pieces that she and friends would perform.
When she and Bruce met they put the poetry to music and Patchouli began.
Julie now plays multiple instruments on and off stage 6& 12 string guitars, upright bass marimbas, flutes and hand drums.