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Patchouli at Campanile Center for the Arts
May 16 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
One could argue that Patchouli — the acoustic duo scheduled to play May 16 at Campanile Center for the Arts — has come up with a truly original way of expressing their creative vision.
In their 25 years of performing together all over the world, master guitarist Bruce Hecksel and his singer/songwriter wife Julie Patchouli have done more than 4,500 shows featuring their blend of folk, world and even flamenco music. Their music is heard on National Public Radio and three of their albums have charted in the top five on international world music charts.
Meanwhile, according to the Chicago Tribune, their upbeat songs about harmony and healing “inspire the human spirit.” Still the inspiration for the Chicago-based couple’s current tour — called “Landscape of the Guitar” — was not sparked until 2016, when they played a new art center in Bonita Springs, Florida.
It resulted in what they call “an animated painting concert experience.” While the couple play and sing in the foreground, Bruce’s impressionistic images (which include animation) are projected on a screen behind them.
“Our shows are about healing, joy and beauty and being inspired by the grand symphony of nature,” Bruce said. “The paintings work together with the music by breaking everything down into color and shape. It’s all about vibrations.” “The colors of the song are actually in our paintings,” Julie said. “Since we do them together (the images and the songs) it becomes one complete expression — rather than something just playing on the screen behind you.”
The songs are written first and then Bruce listens to them as he works on the paintings — roughly three paintings per song. It takes some time on the computer to animate the paintings, but they feel it’s well worth the extra effort. Bruce says the animation helps guide the audience into the paintings. “It’s a challenge, but it is fun putting it all together,” Bruce said. “It makes us so excited about what we do. Even after 25 years of touring we feel like we’re just beginning to enjoy that kernel of joy and discovery.”
The couple — who have a home in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin — had a very successful tour of China last year and will go back again in July. Julie said that one of the strikingly different things about performing in China was that the audiences were almost all families.
“We want to build on that wonderful creative time of the ‘60s and ‘70s when there was a feeling you could do anything,” Bruce said. “We’re trying to recapture that because it’s what we truly believe. There are no boundaries and no limits… It’s not money that makes you happy, but how you are experiencing your present.
Bruce added that Julie is a prime example of that principle. “She is literally famous for her smile and it’s infectious,” he said. “People are going to go home with smiles on their faces.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Patchouli: “The Landscape of Guitar”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16
WHERE: Campanile Center, 130 W. Milwaukee Street, Minocqua
COST: $22 in advance, $15 for students; tickets available online at www.campanilecenter.org
BOX OFFICE HOURS: 9am to 4pm on Monday thru Friday. Phone: 715-356-9700