Several area musicians will soon pack their bags and leave the southern Illinois region this summer for a national tour, but the first stop isn’t too far from home.
Soul Census won the opportunity to play the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe at the Summer Camp on the Road Tour, held Feb. 1 at Hangar 9. The tour goes from city to city sponsoring competitions among some of the area’s best talents.
Soul Census won by the audience consensus.
And while the band doesn’t have firm tour dates beyond Chillicothe yet, signer/songwriter Whitney Marie Townsend said she sees just playing the festival as a milestone.
“Ever since we started this band, the one thing I have always said to these guys is, “I don’t care how far we go, I just want to play at Summer Camp,” and now we got it,” Townsend said.
Soul Census came together in 2009, combining the powerful vocals from Townsend with the instrumental talents of Peter Floyd on rhythm guitar/drums, Kane Kerley on lead guitar, Tamar “T’Slick” Wade on drums/keys/guitar/vocals, Mark Strawn on bass and Paul “Paulie B” Beckmeyer on bass/keys. Soul Census creates a self-proclaimed fusion-rock sound integrating various genres including blues, soul, funk, reggae and R&B among others.
The band members’ movement on stage during live performances sets them apart. Switching instruments throughout the show is an integral part of the overall production and a way for the performers to be more involved with the audience.
“We get up, we switch our instruments, we yell at the crowd,” Wade said. “We try and keep our mind open instead of focusing on just one thing. We figure we’ll capitalize on everything.”
Townsend said getting the audience involved, picking up the musical vibe, is an important part of what Soul Census is trying to accomplish as a band.
“As a musician, you vibe off of the crowd,” Townsend said. “We have had really good crowds, but nothing compares to the crowd from the Summer Camp audition. I think that’s why we performed at our best.”
Band members said they found it’s important to stick with passions to find true happiness and be mentally strong. Kerley said he encountered a musician in his hometown of Rockford who told him some philosophical words that have stuck throughout his musical career.
“He told me, “Don’t try to do exactly what I’m doing and fake until you can make it,” Kerley said. “Those are great words of wisdom because it’s like, you’re almost there, you’re almost there, eventually you’re going to get there man, it’s just a matter of time. The other part, “Don’t do exactly what I’m doing,” means finding your own space within the jam and that’s so important.”
The band is presently working on recording some songs at their home studio. For now the band remains unsigned so they can collectively weigh the options the new tour could bring.
Soul Census will play several shows during the next two months before Summer Camp, including April 24 at PK’s and April 25 at Hangar 9, where they will open for The Main Squeeze.