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New Band Brings the History of Burnt McMelba Toast PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 18:00
The new band Patio has never played a public show. Yet it’s fair to say that a large number of people will be interested in the four-piece outfit. Patio features singer-guitarist Pat Willis, drummer-singer Erik Wilson, bassist Dan Olds, and sax player Derrick Reid. Wilson has played with Justin Morrissey & Friends, and Olds and Reid with the Tri-tones. But the primary appeal of Patio goes back much further: Willis and Wilson were members of local funk-rock legends Burnt McMelba Toast, which broke up eight years ago.

For Willis, who spent the past eight years in Colorado, Patio feels like more of a continuation than a beginning. “I don’t even feel like I’m just starting out,” he said.

Since he returned to the Quad Cities in October, Willis has played two shows with the reunited Burnt McMelba Toast. This Saturday, he’ll debut Patio at the Moline Bier Stube. And on Friday, February 17, Burnt McMelba Toast will perform one last time (for now), at the Bier Stube, before rhythm guitarist Matt Freisz moves to Florida. (Bassist Rod Shaw is the fourth member of Toast.)

“We’ve been doing the reunion shows for a long time,” Willis said. “I want to veer away from that. ... I’m tired of getting together and doing sloppy reunion shows.”

It’s not that local audiences will never again see Toast – “We’ll probably still do reunion shows” – but the 36-year-old Willis wanted a band that could polish its act and write and record new material. Willis said he came back to the Quad Cities specifically to play with Toast/Patio mate Wilson.

Patio, Willis said, will have a funk jazz feel more than Toast’s rock sound, mostly because of the addition of a saxophone. He said he’d like the band to record and tour the Midwest, but not before the band has an opportunity to play around with the new material.

Willis promised a few Toast songs in any given Patio set, along with the occasional obscure cover, but for the most part the band will be playing original material written by Willis. He said the group already has a repertoire of about 30 new songs.

As for local appearances, Willis said he prefers doing one or two shows a month in the Quad Cities, to give the concerts “more of an event style.”

Although Willis certainly has dreams of hitting it big – “I’ve got really high hopes for the unit” – that’s not the point. “I always believe in the Bonnie Raitt story,” he said. The singer-guitarist toiled in relative obscurity before scoring commercial success at age 40, with Nick of Time.

“Making it isn’t the focus,” Willis said. “Doing it is the focus. ... I came back to the Quad Cities to play music.”

Patio will perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, at the Bier Stube in Moline. The band is also scheduled to play March 2 at Bent River Brewing Company.

Burnt McMelba Toast will play at the Moline Bier Stube on Friday, February 17.

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