In the Spotlight with Soul Custody

Mar 6, 2013

By:  Krista Doran
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Here at the OOT, we feature many great bands and musicians from the local area throughout the paper, but the “In The Spotlight” segment is reserved for the best.  I don’t often get to choose the bands I write about, but when I do I choose carefully.  I am very proud to write this issue’s article about a band that has been on the scene many years now and who is truly and exceptionally talented.

A few years back I met local musician, Michael Eli.  At the time, I was booking several rooms in the area and he had sent me some recordings of his band.  I had been working with many other bands at the time, but as soon as I heard these recordings, I was blown away.  Everything about this band stood out and I have kept in touch with Mike ever since.  I am a fan myself, and you will be too, once you hear them.  The band I am referring to is Soul Custody!

I spoke to Mike, who is a very humble and hilarious guy.  Mike explained to me that the band actually formed “by accident.”  About 10 years ago, Mike had moved back home to Philly after living in Los Angeles for 15 years.  He started out just doing some solo shows and after a while started working with several different area musicians as a duo.  One of the musicians he met along the way was Ed Wall and this is where the current band began.  A short while after, Mike’s lifelong friend and bass player Barry Cary started to come and sit in on bass. Things were sounding so good that they decided to call on drummer Steve Shupsky.  Things were sounding great and the guys all felt the band needed one more component.  Mike told me, “Barry and I had seen this amazing guitar player on and off for years and every single time, he just blew us away. Well what do you know, we wind up with him filling in a gig where we needed a 5th musician and we had such a blast that, the rest as they say, is history. We’re still in shock that we have John Bushnell in the band!”

Soul Custody has been impressing music lovers of all kinds now for over 7 years.  They have been able to effectively infuse Soul into the Rock songs they play, as well as Rock into the Soul songs. I asked Mike to explain the kind of music they played and he said, “I think it was Duke Ellington that said ‘There’s only two kinds of music. Good music and bad music’. Mostly I’d say we cover Pop music. Some Rock. Some Soul. Some Blues.  It’s a very energetic and danceable fusion of music. We do our best no matter what genre or style we’re playing, to play Good Music … In addition to playing anywhere from 4 to 8 public shows a month, we also do a lot of private work where we can also play Jazz, Country, or some current Top 40, by request. Some highlights include: Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Gavin DeGraw, Journey, Train, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Black Crows, Top Petty, Cheap Trick, Beatles, Aerosmith, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Queen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jack Johnson etc.”

The kind of music that you will hear at a Soul Custody show is pretty eclectic.  Mike explained, “We’ve built our band on songs that we love. Luckily for us, they turned out to be songs lots of restaurant and bar goers also love. So we really get into our shows. No need to fake it cause we truly LOVE the songs we do and LOVE playing together in this band.”  And this is evident, people.  I have seen them play, and  the chemistry is awesome between all members, whether its the duo, 4 or 5 piece. Each band member has been playing since childhood and have all been working musicians their entire lives. Ed and John teach in addition to playing in the band and Barry is an Audio/Video engineer. All members have toured and worked with many bands big and small, but of course, Mike’s humility wanted to avoid the name dropping.  He is such a cool dude.  Mike does a lot of audio recording and editing, as well and writing and producing original music. He told me about his band, “I can tell you that I get to experience hearing and seeing these guys play all the time. And I still catch myself smiling at what these guys do night after night. These guys are all excellent musicians.”  Mike is right.  I have to agree with that statement 100%.

When you go out to see Soul Custody in action (which I highly recommend), you will see for yourself how engaging and fun they are.  They’ll start many shows off as a duo and play some more mellow instrumental  stuff and will then gradually kick it up as the night goes on.  They can accommodate any room, too, whether a duo, 4 or 5 piece is required. The duo covers all kinds of great songs by Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Bob Dylan and even Pink. They also mix some Soul and Jazz into their duo shows. The 4 piece version is funky and fresh and will keep everyone dancing all night. The 5 piece version adds a more guitar driven sound. Add in some horns wherever needed and it’s an even bigger sounding band! They even do some originals and in fact, they expect to be playing some of them out soon because Mike’s original CD is scheduled for release in June.

Soul Custody is a great band with an even greater message for their fans.  Mike told me, “We’re just musicians doing our best to help people relax and unwind and disconnect from all the bullshit life throws at them. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We’re just a local band that really loves to play and knows how to have a good time. Seems when we’re having fun, it’s contagious. Life is Short. Love one another. Look out for one another. Go support live music with your loved ones and get caught up in moment whenever you can. Hearing live music is an amazing blessing if you’re open to it’s power. We’d love to share that with anyone and everyone that wants to party and have fun.”  Wise words from a wise man. How can you not love this guy?

Everyone needs to get out and see Soul Custody.  You can see them playing monthly at some great venues such as The Washington Crossing Inn, The Logan Inn, Chambers 19, The Sycamore Grill, Earl’s Bucks County and The Dog & Bull.  They also play pretty regularly at The Ivy Tavern, McStews and Coconut Cove.  You can read up on the band and check out their schedule at www.soulcustody.net.  Go there now to hear some great samples of their jams – you will be dancing in your chair just listening to that!  Soul Custody is Michael Eli – Guitars & Lead & Backing Vocals, Ed Wall – Keyboards & Lead & Backing Vocals, Barry Cary – Bass & Backing Vocals, Steve Shupsky – Drums & Backing Vocals and John Bushnell – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals.




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