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Tuesday December 5th, 2017

Posted at 9:00am

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One local artist and his friends are soulfully spreading some Christmas cheer in Windsor.

After releasing his solo album Learn To Vibe in May, Soul Brother Mike is back with a Christmas EP: Soulstice features six songs that are either brand new or reworked versions of holiday classics.

Taking public domain songs to their limit however, the entire collection is unique.

“The whole album feels original to me,” said Michael Paul, Soul Brother Mike’s name offstage. “I wanted to simply take slices or samples of classic Christmas songs and put them into new contexts. Jingle Bells became about the environment, Silent Night became about a world out of control and enjoying alone time, and so on.”

To celebrate the release of his EP, Paul will have a weekly residency at Villains Beastro (located at 256 Pelissier Street.) Along with his band The Family Soul, the musician will play free all ages shows from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays in December. Each performance is set to include a wide variety of songs ranging from numbers led by artist Crissi Cochrane, duets, more Christmas music, non-traditional tunes and some Motown.

Although there’s a lot to cover, Soul Brother Mike is excited about a few songs in particular.

“I’m really excited about a Motown inspired original-version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” he said. “That and all of the Christmas music lead by Cochrane, such as Santa Baby, The Christmas Blues and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Me.”

The Family Soul is a rotating group of musicians including Kelly Hoppe from Big Sugar on saxophone and harmonica, Austin Di Pietro on trumpet, Keith Wilkinson on bass, Taylor Unis on drums and Cochran on backup vocals. Playing almost every instrument on his albums except for guest appearances by Hoppe, band members bring their own styles to the live show.

Creating a new dynamic for Paul, he’s hoping to record an album with The Family Soul in 2018. In the meantime, he’s hoping people enjoy hearing them in person

“I hope people come to the shows to experience a fantastic band at no cost,” said Soul Brother Mike. …”It’s a perfect after dinner mid-week date that’s free. It’s also all-ages, and family friendly. I hope we can bring energy and spirit to downtown Windsor for the month of December with the music we’ve got prepared.”

Soulstice includes reinventions of Jingle Bells, Silent Night and Oh Night Divine. Original titles are highlighted by the blues-inspired Go Again, describing sleigh rides and featuring Hoppe on harmonica. Taking listeners through a range of different genres, the main theme of the EP is incredible winter nights.

Those interested can find it on Apple Music, Spotify and wherever digital music is sold. CDs can also be purchased at Soul Brother Mike’s website and off-stage during his residency.

All shows were made free via sponsorship from the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund.

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