Eternal Love and Immediate Satisfaction
Things happen fast in the lives of Door County musicians Ruby James and Stephen Cooper, frontrunners of the popular 10-piece old soul, Motown, rockabilly musical fusion known as WIFEE and the HUZz BAND.
Whether that is in their personal relationship (the couple became engaged in August 2012 after a whirlwind three-week courtship), the formation of their band, or the rate at which they are booked for live gigs, the speed at which it has all happened tends to make things slip between the cracks, like finding the time to throw an official album release party for their 2014 debut album, Songs of Eternal Love and Immediate Satisfaction.
But for fans of the energetic big band with an even bigger sound, that time has finally come. This Saturday, Stone Harbor Resort will host the band’s official album release party and WIFEE Ruby James’ second annual birthday bash. Purgatory Hill (pat mAcdonald and melaniejane) will kick off the night from 8:30 – 9:30 pm before WIFEE and the HUZz BAND takes the stage in the ballroom. They will also be joined by Adam Mackintosh and The Last Dancers.
The night will be a celebration of the collaborative efforts that have continually fed the band since it was officially formed just a year-and-a-half ago, culminating in the magic that is Songs of Eternal Love and Immediate Satisfaction. The band lineup on the album includes Vee Sonnets on guitar, Greg Roteik on bass, Zach Vogel on drums, Kipp Wilde on keyboard, Tommy Vanden Avond on trombone, Greg Garcia and Kurt Shipe on trumpet, and Julio Reyes on baritone.
While the band’s years are young, its resume is anything but. In the past year-and-a-half alone, they have played at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse at Summerfest, The 400 Block summer concert series in Wausau, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, and opened for Morris Day and The Time at the Snowy Range Music Festival last August, along with a packed schedule of gigs in Wisconsin, Chicago and Minneapolis. They are currently working on a touring route in Austin.
“I have never seen or been a part of something that has accelerated this quickly,” James says.
While both James and Cooper are certain that something musical would have come out of their relationship, they give a tremendous amount of credit to the Holiday Music Motel and its pioneering approach to musical collaboration, more specifically its three week-long collaborative songwriting events: Steel Bridge Songfest, Dark Songs/The Edgar Allan Polka, and Love On Holiday.
It was during a trip to Sturgeon Bay for Love On Holiday 2013, while the duo still lived in Austin, that they wrote their first few songs together.
“It was because of that first Love On Holiday  that we wrote when we were like, ‘Wow, look at what we just did,’” James says. “I would imagine if we were a couple and we stayed together that we would’ve hit on something at some point that we could’ve done together but it is that event that made us see what happened … we don’t write a lot together, life is so busy, especially the band kind of blew up really quickly. We’re all over the place touring and stuff. We don’t find a lot of time to just sit down and write. It was that event that was all the magic came to the surface.”
What they did with that magic has been well documented in Door County over the past couple of years. They finally put together a band in the fall of 2013 using a band name they came up with the night they got engaged in August 2012, WIFEE and the HUZz BAND.
While they had attempted to form a band while they still lived in Austin earlier that year, James knew that there was something special under the roof of the Holiday Music Motel. As it turns out, that is where the core of their 10-piece band came together.
“The core of the rhythm section comes out of that motel, then we sprinkled fairy dust of [Cooper’s] virtuoso world and musicians on top of that so it’s pretty cool,” James says.
It is also where all but one of the nine songs on their debut album, Songs of Eternal Love and Immediate Satisfaction, were written. In similar nature to their relationship and the formation of WIFEE and the HUZz BAND, the album was made, start to finish, in seven days at Makin’ Sausage Music in Milwaukee with the help of Holiday Music Motel in-house engineer Steve Hamilton (who owns Makin’ Sausage Music) and producer pat mAcdonald (both men also co-own the motel).
The album was completed in June 2014 in time for their show at Summerfest but in the blur of their schedule, the band didn’t have time to designate an official album release party. In preparation for the official release, check out some samples of the album’s tracks online and be sure to catch them live this weekend in Sturgeon Bay.
WIFEE and the HUZz BAND’s album release show and WIFEE’s second annual birthday bash will take place on Saturday, Feb. 21 at Stone Harbor Resort, 107 N. 1st Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. There is no cover charge. For more information on the band and album, visit wifeeandthehuzzband.com.