A unique edge

Churchville musician Jim Padilla shares history and upcoming projects of the multi-talented Asylum Wind Band

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

On stage: If there’s one word to describe Asylum Wind Band, it’s “unique.” All members sing lead and backing vocals and play a multitude of instruments. They also write songs separately, which results in a single EP being influenced by multiple genres. SOURCE: Rick Urbanowski Photography

You never know what you’re going to get with Asylum Wind Band, which is the beauty of the Bucks County and South Jersey-based group.

With its unmatched harmonies, multi-instrumental members and diverse list of musical influences, Asylum Wind Band is well on its way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene. As AWB prepares for a jam-packed 2018, which includes recording a third EP, The Times caught up with vocalist and guitarist Jim Padilla to find out what makes this unique band tick.

Asylum Wind Band’s story began 12 years ago when Padilla, originally from Northeast Philadelphia, and his wife Jayne Jacobs, of South Jersey, became residents of Churchville. The two initially met at an open mic night, which, given their respective backgrounds, only makes sense. Padilla currently works full time at the Advertising Specialty Institute in Trevose, but always sang and played guitar on the side. Jacobs grew up in a musical family, so performing was naturally in her blood.

For some time, the husband-wife duo pursued music as a hobby rather than a tangible career option. But that all changed six years ago after they befriended Scott Cooper, Rich Heim and Elvis Jendy at a local meetup group for musicians.

There was an instant chemistry and wide range of talent among the five, the perfect blend for a band. The only snag was that every member was a skilled singer. Rather than make the difficult decision of who would be the lead vocalist, the band found a solution in the form of harmonies, allowing everyone to have their voice heard.

In addition to all members sharing lead and backing vocals, each plays a multitude of instruments, which further enhances the unique energy of the band. Padilla plays rhythm, lead, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, harmonica and keyboard. Jacobs shines on flute, while also incorporating sax, guitar and keyboard. Cooper, who hails from Croydon and is a member of the Tri County Band in Feasterville, plays piano, organ, keyboard, trombone and bass guitar, while effortlessly hitting some of the highest harmonies in the group. Like Padilla, Heim is on lead, rhythm, acoustic and electric guitars. Finally, Jendy, who has a jazz and classical background, plays drums and percussion.

To date, Asylum Wind Band has two EPs under its belt. The latest, Lookin Up, was released in September 2017 and features five tracks sure to take listeners on a wild 20-minute musical journey.

The EP begins with “You Can Only Control (What You Can Control),” a catchy tune perfect for a sunny, afternoon drive with the windows down. Things get deeper as dark, piano sounds introduce “Cheaters,” which features strong jazz undertones and several vocalists chanting “lies” throughout the song. The mood turns lighter again with “Why,” where Jacobs’ flute skills are brilliantly highlighted. “Not My Fault” brings the EP in a Ramones-esque, grunge rock direction before “I’ve Never Loved No One (Like I Love You)” ends it on a simple, almost doo-wop inspired note.

Padilla explained he and his bandmates write songs separately, then flesh them out together. With each member coming from different musical backgrounds and influences, it only made sense for the final product to have a touch of everything.

“We’ve had some pretty good results,” he said. “It makes for a very interesting blend.”

The band likes to keep listeners guessing with not only its original songs, but also covers at live shows. At any Asylum Wind Band concert, Padilla said attendees can expect the unexpected as the group smoothly transitions from “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline to “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.

Since the release of Lookin Up, Asylum Wind Band’s primary goal has been to create a strong following, both locally and beyond. Last year, much of the Bucks County community was introduced to the group as it played a number of local events including an Earth Day celebration in Middletown Township, classic car shows and church events. AWB was also chosen to perform at the Make Music Philly festival hosted at The Franklin Institute.

So far, 2018 is shaping up to be even more successful. The band has already secured several dates at local venues, including Saturday, Feb. 24, at Ralphie’s Sports Bar, 2295 2nd Street Pike in Newtown, and Saturday, March 10, at The Churchville Inn, 1500 Bustleton Pike in Churchville.

Asylum Wind Band also plans to get back in the studio soon to record its third EP. Though Padilla admits timing can be a challenge with all members balancing full-time jobs, the hard work is always worth it in the end.

“Music is something we all love,” he said. ••

Keep up with Asylum Wind Band at facebook.com/AsylumWindBand.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com