Casual music fans could be forgiven for thinking The Voodoo Fix was a local band considering the hard-rockin’ quartet will play its fourth Trempealeau Hotel show this year on Sunday. You might think they’re at least a regional band, but, no, the band started a decade ago in Los Angeles and now has a home base in Nashville, Tenn.
Its members just really like the Trempealeau Hotel.
One of the band members has a close friend who lives in Edgerton, Wis., which they use as a base of operations when playing in the Midwest, and bassist Will Halsey said the Trempealeau Hotel first got on the band’s radar back in 2012 when they noticed a band The Voodoo Fix admired had performed there. They got in touch with the Trempealeau Hotel and played the band’s first show there in 2013. It’s been a regular stop ever since.
“It seemed like a mystical place,” Halsey said during a recent conference call with the band from Nashville. “It became a family affair pretty much off the bat.”
The setting for the outside shows, with great stage, relaxed vibe for the audience, the Mississippi River in the background and the occasional train rumbling by was charming for the band, said Abe Rivers, the band’s lead singer. “It feels like a slice of America,” Rivers said, adding that they love playing inside, too. “It’s like rockin’ out in the living room with a bunch of friends playing there.”
The Voodoo Fix, which plays a guitar-heavy, high-energy swampy blues-rock with a twist of soul and melodic hooks galore, could be getting to be a pretty big deal soon. The band got a big boost for its profile in Nashville this year by winning the Music City Mayhem contest, which gave its members a prime spot in the Live on the Green music festival there as well as a prize of three days in the recording studio.
But the way they talk about the Trempealeau Hotel, it wouldn’t be surprising if they keep coming back to play — even after they start playing arena shows. “They make it feel like home and beyond,” Rivers said. “It’s like going home for Christmas.”
The members of Voodoo Fix, which includes Scott Parrelli on lead guitar and Logan Todd on drums, have always put an emphasis on showmanship, but over Memorial Day weekend they got a chance to watch a master showman work after they got done on the main stage at Madison’s Brat Fest: George Clinton, frontman for Parliament Funkadelic.
“We’d never seen anyone ooze so much vibe,” said Parrelli. “I’ve never seen an entrance onto the stage like that. He was from another planet. It was inspiring. It was one of the best experiences we’ve had together as a band, and our grooves got a little more entwined from then on.”
Band members are fresh off a 21-date European tour, where they were happy to see fans at the shows wearing T-shirts from previous Voodoo Fix visits. One couple came up after a concert and told the band they’d driven seven hours to for the show. “We’re like, ‘Wow, us too,’” Halsey said with a laugh.
Even with a rigorous touring schedule, the band has released albums two years in a row, with “In Deep” coming out in 2016 and “Back for More” this year. Getting a foothold in Europe was a big part of the reason for the aggressive album release schedule, Parrelli said, noting that EPs don’t get any attention on the European market — they want full-length albums over there.
The Voodoo Fix has a lot of new material that band members are excited about, but they are leaning toward going American-style this time around, releasing frequent singles and not feeling the pressure to get in the studio and put out a full album for the third year in a row.
“We really want to up the bar with what we’re doing,” Halsey said. “We feel like we’ve earned ourselves a little bit of time.”
Sunday’s Trempealeau Hotel show will be an especially intimate affair, with admission capped at 50, and the “tailgate party” starting at 4:30 p.m. represents a rare chance to see an early show by the band and a chance to see why The Voodoo Fix has become one of Trempealeau Hotel owner Amy Werner’s favorite bands.
From the start, Werner said, “their raw energy combined with fresh guitar riffs, funky bass and excellent vocals had me hooked. We are so lucky to have them play here. … Who knows how much longer we’ll get to party with these guys, like rock stars.”