The Soul Searchers – Lounging at the ‘Wood
CD: 11 Songs, 65 Minutes
Styles: Soul, Funk, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs
To be enthralled is to be charmed, captivated, beguiled and bewitched. In a darker, more archaic sense, it also means to be enslaved or subjugated. My feline is currently enthralled by her catnip mouse toy. Yours truly is currently enthralled by The Soul Searchers’ Lounging at the ‘Wood. The eleven original songs on their new album wash over you in gentle waves, lulling your mind into a sense of familiarity before dragging you under, into a psychedelic paradise. Presenting over an hour of mesmerizing music, these dynamos from Des Moines won’t let go of you until the final notes of this CD fade into silence. Perhaps not even then. They’ve earned high praise from such critics as Michael Swanger from Cityview and Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records: “[The album features] everyone playing the blues with a real sense of the tradition, no desire to show off, and real ensemble work.” What more needs to be said? Let the band do the talking.
Since the 1990s, The Soul Searchers have been one of the most in-demand live music groups in Iowa. The group, whose music is best described as boogie-woogie blues, typically performs more than 100 dates a year at music festivals, bars, wineries, breweries, company gatherings, wedding receptions, and graduation parties. The band’s members, Scott Eggleston (guitar and vocals), Neil Stoffregen (piano and organ), Erich Gaukel (electric and upright basses) and Mark Grimm (drums), have toured and performed onstage with Pieta Brown, Bo Ramsey, The Nadas, Sam Salomone, The Turner Center Jazz Orchestra, R.J. Mischo, Rockin’ Johnny, Aki Kumar, Jim Viner’s Incredible B3 Band, among many others.
The instrumental title track seamlessly blends blues and jazz with more than a little bit of soul, featuring guitar by Scott Eggleston that’s as crisp as a Michigan apple. Neil Stoffregen’s organ adds spice aplenty. “Look Whatcha Done” arrives next, a traditional blues track with a smooth Chicago-style beat and a mid-‘60s atmosphere. “Spooky” possesses a bassline that will subtly possess you, while “I Smell Trouble” burns slow and steady. Give the drummer props galore on “Grimm Reminder,” because he certainly deserves them. What will wear out first: his wrists or your dancing feet? My money’s on the latter. The song that’ll receive the most airplay on Sirius XM might be selection number eight. “Every night she smiles – well, she’s got me hooked, but it’s not me she’s loving. She’s in love with my pocketbook.” As much of a groaner as our narrator’s situation is here, it’ll have listeners singing along. Last but not least comes surfer anthem “Avalandis,” which would make the Beach Boys and Frankie Avalon proud.
Loungin’ at the Wood is a lure for anyone who loves melody and good vibes above all. When they play, the Soul Searchers don’t plumb the depths of their psyches. They plumb yours.