It seems so obvious in retrospect. I’d just seen Wilco play three mind-blowing festival shows in Mexico. A week later I was at The Roseland watching Dark Star Orchestra pay tribute to the Grateful Dead. I googled Portland Wilco tribute band as soon as I got home. There were no results.
Mike showed up with beer. Classy. I liked him already. This was May of 2020, perhaps not the best time to start a band, so we set up outside. We opened a couple. It sounded good. Really good. We opened a couple more. This wasn’t just some crazy idea anymore. This was actually happening.
We started working on the lineup. While we agreed there should be a limit to the number of Mikes in a band, when Michael plugged in, we knew we'd have to make an exception. He was fearless. A chameleon who could change styles on a dime and juggle three parts without even breaking a sweat.
He was also the guy who rescued us when our drummer bailed. His old bandmate Brock was new to Wilco at the time, but his playing, feel and instincts were perfect. He was also the nicest guy a band could ever want, and crazy enough – I mean trusting enough – to follow us down the Wilco rabbit hole.
We played a bunch of shows without a keyboardist, but when Rich showed up with his racks of keyboards and degree in Wilcology, those days were instantly over. He was the missing piece. He knew exactly what we needed and how to make it happen. He wasn’t even afraid of the high harmonies.
If we’ve learned anything, it’s that Wilco is even better when you zoom in. Every song is its own little universe. Every song teaches us something as a band. And their fans connect to it all in such a personal way. They show up to celebrate this amazing music but they also bring something amazing to it.
Folks don't usually start tribute bands for bands that are still active. I get that. I just wanted people to feel the joy I felt at those shows in Mexico. To experience the kinds of memories that those songs can bring back. And to make new memories. I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Wilco somehow. Wilclone was the way.
"Hi, just wanna say how much I loved the show Saturday. I'm a big Wilco fan and have seen them many times in many places. I heard about y'all and decided to give ya a chance, knowing that tribute bands can be hit/miss. When I opened the door to the venue, it was PACKED and I thought, dang they must be good if this many folks are here. Thank you for taking the time to learn the songs so well and for really delivering. I danced and sang and I'm still high off that show, it was really, really good! Live music saves lives." - Harriet
Just wanted to reach out and say what a beautiful night Saturday was. Filled with joy and fabulous musicianship. Your band sounded as good as I have ever heard it. You are just getting better and better all the time. I appreciate the commitment you guys have to your mission. Everyone loved it. And for me, it is an inspiration. - Jamey