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Patchouli's back in the air

Performing an original blend of folk meets flamenco with blazing guitars and heartstring-tugging lyrics, Patchouli will bring its energy and chemistry back to the Mississippi River Valley.

The nationally touring guitar duo plays for a Red Wing Concert in the Park show 7 p.m. Wednesday July 16 and performs a set at the annual Stockholm Fair at noon Saturday July 19.

Patchouli is Bruce Hecksel and Julie Patchouli, who both live and record locally.

The two were on an extended tour in the south for the past six months. This spring, their recent instrumental guitar project Terra Guitarra – “Dragonfly” was nominated for Best Instrumental Acoustic Album of the Year by the Zone Music Reporter and has been in the top 5 of 100 albums on the ZMR world music radio charts.

They traveled to New Orleans in May for the awards ceremony and concert before returning to the area.

Now home, they are busy in the studio working on a new album.

“We are back in the studio between shows recording new songs we’ve composed in the last year. For us it’s essential as artists to capture that exciting and new energy on tape right away, then work from there to build the songs in to the album,” Julie Patchouli said.

Wednesday’s concert is one of 20 shows this month on their summer schedule and they said they are looking forward to a local week of performances.

“The band shell in Central Park is a spectacular outdoor venue to play music at. The stage is an excellent setting and playing for our Red Wing crowd is a kin to playing on a home field, it feels best,” she said

Patchouli will also play a set at the annual Stockholm Art Fair — Saturday July 19 — where they run the music stage for the day. Other local musicians performing at the fair are Yata Sinz and Orefield, the Ditch Lilies, Skipping Stones, B. Squat Woody and Greg Herriges.

Hecksel and Patchouli say their music expresses the celebration of the beauty of nature, the healing messages of connection and environment as well as topics of tolerance, love and stories from their extensive travels.

We asked, they answered …

Bruce Hecksel and Julie Patchouli of the guitar duo Patchouli took a minute to talk about music memories and more.

What inspires your music?

The rhythm and beauty of nature, the places we travel, the music of the many cultures on the planet and the desire to bring forth happiness and joy to the world and ourselves.

If you could watch any band or musician perform live, who would it be?

Bruce: Montivani and his Orchestra perform his entire collection of Hollywood movie themes from the 1960s and ’70s at the Hollywood Bowl on a 70-degree summer evening wearing a white dinner jacket.

Julie: Jimi Hendrix

What is the first song you learned how to play on an instrument or sing?

Bruce's mom taught him "Chopsticks" on piano at 4 years old, when he was 8 years old he won the MMTA State Piano Competition with "Musette" by J.S. Bach.

The first song Bruce learned on guitar was "a Little Bit of Soul" arranged by the Ramones.

Julie remembers singing the "Alphabet" and "Row Your Boat"; learning "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on violin at 7 years old and

"American Pie" by Don McLean on guitar.

Last thing you watched on TV?

Bruce: "Life below Zero"

Tell me something I wouldn’t know about you.

Bruce is one semester shy of a Master’s Degree in Divinity.

Julie studied ethnobotany in a cloud forest research site in Mexico.

Together we have an extensive collection of finger puppets that ride along in the tour vehicle and commonly perform free form musical interpretations to the songs of Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden and other favorites.

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

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