.Love Your Local Band: Wild Iris

Some bands are organized through ads and auditions. Others are formed by friends who have known each other for years. But sometimes fate steps in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—like randomly meeting the person you will write music with for the next five years at a convenience store.

“It was Kong’s Market, off 26th Avenue,” remembers Wild Iris guitarist Bryan Shelton of the day in 2013 that he met singer and lyricist Kate Mullikin. “I used to work there before it closed.”

“Bryan was playing this old guitar outside, I had some lyrics, and they kind of went together,” says Mullikin.

Despite an age difference between them of “a couple decades,” Mullikin and Shelton quickly hit it off.

“We have a very organic way of doing things,” says Mullikin of their writing process. “Some songs we’ll get to right away, while others will be on the back burner for months and months.”

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Wild Iris’ music is an earthy mix of Delta blues, acoustic folk and bluegrass, with the tiniest bits of country and rock. Last year, the band released their second full-length album, Covers. Not your typical cover album, it consists of songs chosen by fans who donated a certain amount of money to the band’s Kickstarter campaign when they were raising funds for their debut LP. It includes covers of everything from John Prine’s “Paradise” to Otis Redding’s “Blue Bayou” to Bessie Smith’s “St. Louis Blues” to Consuelo Velazquez’s “Besame Mucho.”

“Bessie Smith was a lot of fun to learn, and I got to sing in Spanish [on “Besame Mucho”],” says Mullikin, who is bilingual.

Even if you can’t make the band’s April 18 show at the Crepe Place with Joe Kaplow and Ladies of Sound for the Do It Ourselves Fest, Wild Iris says to look out for new music blossoming later this year. 

INFO: 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.


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