The sound of a small ukulele breaks the silence of the room. Then, an endearing, sweet voice pulls the audience’s attention forward. A steady drum beat and acoustic guitar join in. Soon, the warm sound of an upright bass enters the room, accompanied by moments of bells and accordion.
These instruments belong to the six-member-band, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. Their combined sound, paired with the unique vocalist style of lead singer, Lucy Michelle, gives this band it’s unusual, yet appealing sound.
Michelle is a short, dark brown-haired girl with a quirky personality. She has a wonderful sounding voice with a wide vocal range. In her freshman year of college at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, she began writing songs.
“I had been working at a coffee shop at the time and my co-worker, Ashley Boman, and I would go back to my house and jam out, sometimes I’d play ukulele, sometimes saxophone…slowly we just kept adding more musicians to our musical evenings,” said Michelle, as she described the arrangement of the band.
Other musicians include: Geoff Freeman, Jesse Schuster, Eamonn McLain, and Chris Graham. Each member brought their own sparkle and musical talents to the table. Their natural development and shared love for music eventually lead them to create ten songs in the band’s first year alone.
The group’s combined sound is warm and entirely organic. Each live performance is pure. The band’s harmonious sounds and lyrics unite and create its defined style. Its chemistry is inevitably present as each distinct member unites together to become one, unique and highly talented group.
Some songs are sweet and charming, others are warm and soothing, and some push a powerful message. Yet, their recognizable sound shines through and is continually being polished as the band just finished their fourth album.
“It’s all kind of hazy since it was six years, ago but slowly we just kept adding more musicians to our musical evenings and then played about a million shows in the Twin Cities in one crazy year and here we are now!” said Michelle, as she described the band’s very beginning.
From 2007 to present day, the band has been playing all over the country. They first entered the scene in the town which they originated from, Minneapolis, Minn. Eventually, the Lapelles performed to sold-out audiences at legendary venues such as First Avenue, Cedar Cultural Center, and the Fitzgerald Theatre. They have performed with bands like Thao & Mirah, Titus Andronicus, and The Head and the Heart.
On November 9, they performed alongside Trampled by Turtles at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls, SD. Below is a link of one of their live performances:
The group has created and performed four albums. Their first album, “Orange Peels & Rattlesnakes”, came out in 2008. After that, “Special Party Time for Everybody” and “Good of That” were released in 2010, and their latest album, “Heat”, came out in 2012. Michelle, who studied graphic design, designs each album cover. She also designs posters and album covers for other bands, like the New Standards. Their first album cover is below on the left, along with their latest album on the far right.
“Heat” was recorded at Vacation Island Recording Studios in Brooklyn, NY. Matt Boynton helped produced the album. He is an acclaimed producer and engineer. He’s also worked with other famous bands like MGMT, Beirut, and Bat for Lashes.
Below are links to music videos for the songs “Just a Kid” and “Undone” from “Heat”:
Since the beginning, the Lapelles have had quite a journey. Today, the band continuously performs and writes music. Some of the members work other jobs and partake in various hobbies as well. Boman works at a salon and a second-hand store. McLain paints murals. Freeman substitutes as a teacher. Schuster makes sandwiches. Michelle used to work as a teaching assistant at an elementary school in St. Paul, but has recently quit.
“I quit to do music full time,” said Michelle.
The band has a Twitter account, Facebook page, and website.
Music from each of their four albums is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Youtube. However, nothing beats a live performance from this group. They frequently perform in the Minneapolis area at local venues and late-night bars.
Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles is truly a special group of it’s time. It is made up of entirely unique sounds and is worth listening to. Each member, song, and performance is very extraordinary and a true work of art and creativity.