Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Plenty of hustle in local band Uncle Muscle

Trio on tour after release of album; at Brass Rail on May 27


Nick Braun

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 18, 2022

The other night, I made my way to The Brass Rail to grab a cold drink and take in some loud rock n’ roll. 

A rock trio from Detroit hit the stage first, setting the tone for the evening, followed by an up-and-coming guitarist from Nashville, Tennessee. 

However, what folks and I were most excited to see was the headliner, our very own Uncle Muscle. The band was releasing their new album, Say Uncle, which can be found on all streaming platforms, while physical copies are available at their shows.

The trio of bassist Colin Taylor, drummer Sam Clay, and guitarist Kellen Baker (the latter a Whatzup 20 Under 20 honoree) hit the stage and worked up a good club-sized sweat while they belted out the new numbers. The band was tight, music superb, and showmanship was outstanding. 

staying busy

It is hard to believe that just handful of years ago these cats were the rhythm section for the 2016 Sweetwater/Wooden Nickel Battle of the Bands champions The B45’s. 

Back then, they were a bunch of teenagers, playing shows on a relatively regular basis, and opening for a few worthy national touring acts. 

With their frontman, Ben Tarr, moving to Los Angeles in 2018, Taylor, Clay, and Baker formed Uncle Muscle. They’ve been a well-oiled machine ever since, drawing inspiration from the likes of The Beatles, Spoon, Cheap Trick, NRBQ, and The Jam. 

Lately, the members are some of the busiest on the local scene. In addition to Uncle Muscle, Taylor keeps himself busy as a member of Debutants and the highly caffeinated Hillbilly Casino. Clay, also a member of Hillbilly Casino, plays the six-stringer in the newly formed Loveseat! Then there is Baker, who can be found in Namen Namen and filling in for the Craig Brown Band, on top of running his own record label, Beet Fat Records, where he released Roman New Time’s latest album, Your Voice as a Cymbal, this month.

long wait is over

Somehow, the guys managed to find time to get together and put out an album, beginning two years ago as the pandemic was running rampant across the globe. 

Although they wrapped up the mixing and editing at Sweetwater Studios in 2020, they weren’t doing any shows, for obvious reasons, so it didn’t seem right to release it with no momentum behind it. But as COVID restrictions have begun to ease, they felt the time was right for the album’s release.

“The recording sessions were pretty intense,” Baker said. “We had three full days for main tracking, and two days to finish overdubs, but as you’ll hear in the density and layers of the album, it was a lot to cram in. Overall, we had a lot of fun, and during the sessions there was a light-hearted and goofy atmosphere, which I think comes through in the finished recordings.”

Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Shawn Dealey, and released on Baker’s label, this fun and upbeat album is comprised of 12 tracks, including “All I Can Do,” “Pure Evil,” and the opening track “Primal.” 

When asked about the new material, Taylor said, “I wrote ‘Primal’ when I was 17, and I just started to write songs on my own. I think I actually wrote ‘His Story or History,’ ‘Pure Evil,’ and ‘Primal’ all in the same week. The teenage angst is prevalent in all three songs, and they’re roughly about going through it, losing friends, and the end of a relationship.” 

All together this gem is upbeat, has fun songs, and virtually impossible to sit still while listening to. It indeed tightens the band’s sound into Fort Wayne coffee: freshly ground and firmly packed.

tour of duty

Say Uncle marks the band’s first release since their 2017 self-titled EP, and what better way to celebrate a release than by hitting the road? And hitting the road is something the boys are doing as we speak. 

A 17-date tour has them spanning the states, and sharing stages with some amazing bands along the way, including Connor Kelly & The Time Warp, the Craig Brown Band, Stephie James, Brother O Brother, Tiberius, and Benjamin Cartel.

A large portion of the tour will be with Litvar out of Connecticut, whom they will be doing seven shows in a row. 

“I’m beyond excited to be touring with Uncle Muscle,” Clay said. “A lot of time, thought, and energy has gone into making this tour happen.” 

You release a new killer album, and tour like madman, so what’s the future hold for the Muscle camp? I was told they are going to record a new single in Pittsburgh during this tour, which will be something to keep an eye out for in the future. 

In addition to pop-up shows, they are slated to perform at the upcoming Middle Waves festival on Saturday, June 18. There are also plans take a break to go back to their respective bands for a bit. 

“I think our collective goal as a group is to make and play as much music as we can. We know how to stay busy,” Clay said. 

You will have the opportunity to welcome them home Friday, May 27, back at The Brass Rail, where they will be joined by funk rockers Connor Kelly & The Time Warp out of Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Make sure and snag a copy of Say Uncle. You won’t be disappointed. 

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