For this week’s installment of the Tuesday Artist Spotlight, we’re shining our light on Soule Monde, an avant funk duo comprised of Russ Lawton and Ray Paczkowski. You might already know Russ and Ray as the drummer and pianist of the Trey Anastasio Band, a group they’ve toured and recorded with since the late ’90s. Outside of T.A.B, Ray first established himself as a musician in the mid ’90s as a member of the legendary Vermont act, Viperhouse, and then later on with his trio, Vorcza. Much like Ray, Russ has been a staple of the Vermont music scene for decades, and has collaborated with acts like Mike Gordon, The Grippo Funk Band, and Strangefolk. In addition, Russ currently teaches drumming at the esteemed Middlebury College in Vermont.
With this new chapter, Soule Monde presents Russ and Ray a vehicle to exercise boundless improvisational freedom, as well as an opportunity to show off decades of performing experience as the frontmen on stage. While branded as experimental funk, Russ and Ray share roots in traditional jazz music which lays a foundation for the music of Soule Monde. Ray has been called a “B3 wizard” who plays his Hammond organ as “fearlessly as Han Solo flies the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field,” while Russ is a master of precision who was nominated for a Grammy as a co-writer of “First Tube,” which appeared on Phish’s 2000 album, Farmhouse.
Soule Monde found its beginnings at a small club in Vermont where Russ and Ray used to perform once a month for a residency. The venue was equipped with a Hammond B3 organ, and after several acclaimed performances the duo decided to record some music at a friend’s home studio. One day after listening to Russ and Ray lay down a few impressive tracks, their friend offered to help book gigs for them outside Vermont. This was a turning point for the band, which thereafter named itself Soule Monde and became a central priority in their performing careers. Soule Monde recently recorded and mastered its newest album, Must Be Nice, which is scheduled for release on March 3rd via Ropeadope Records. To celebrate the new record, Soule Monde is throwing an album release party at DROM in New York City’s East Village Friday, March 3rd. Make to sure to purchase your tickets in advance here, and you can preorder the new record at this link.