The Times West Virginian

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May 29, 2014

Soul Miners bring high energy

Performance Saturday at Heston Farm Winery

FAIRMONT — Anyone who’s been to a Soul Miners show knows it’s hard to sit still when the music starts.

The dynamic group plays Motown and Memphis soul music from the 1960s and ’70s, which gets the crowd dancing — no matter their age.

The Soul Miners play just about every bar in Morgantown that offers live music: Gibbies, 123 Pleasant Street, McClafferty’s, Brew Pub and Chicken Bones, to name a few. They’ve also played numerous weddings and have branched out to Fairmont and Pittsburgh.

On Saturday, the group will perform at Heston Farm Winery as part of its Summer Courtyard Concert Series.

“You’re gonna see some high-energy dance music that is feel-good, sing-along, clap your hands and uplift your spirits kind of music,” said bass player Jake Hiles. “That’s what Motown is, and we play it with as much fidelity to the spirit of the original songs that we can.”

Hiles has been playing in bands off and on since he was in his 20s.

“At a certain point, I suddenly discovered Motown,” he said. “I suddenly discovered how cool the bass in Motown music was.”

So, in 2001, Hiles teamed up with the band’s guitarist, Ray Cook, to try to start a Motown group.

A mutual friend introduced them to singer Adrian Michaelz, who found a passion for Motown at a young age when he listened to his parents’ old records.

“That music has always appealed to me because it has a happy spirit to it,” he said.

Then they found a drummer and started the group in 2003.

Then they found another drummer.

And another.

“I think our drummer now is about the sixth or seventh one we’ve had,” Hiles said.

Their issues finding a solid drummer, along with the fact that Adrian lived in Clarksburg and had a hard time getting to practices, led to what they thought was the demise of the Soul Miners — until 2009.

When Michaelz moved to Morgantown, the band members got back together to play at a wedding and have been performing ever since.

Michaelz is a Fairmont native, and he enjoys playing shows near his hometown, he said.

“I love it. We don’t do it a lot, but when I do it’s always fun,” he said. “I may enjoy it more than the rest of the guys. It means a little more to me, I suppose, especially if I see someone out in the audience that I know.”

No matter where they play, the group has fun on stage, and the audience feeds off their energy.

“I know it’s always fun,” said Michaelz. “There’s a lot of energy. ... The audience is always just awesome. Everybody seems to be having a good time. That’s the important thing to us, that everybody is having a good time. If you come out, we want to make sure you’ve got your money’s worth.”

A Soul Miners show is broken up into three sets.

The first set introduces the fans to songs they might not have heard before, said Hiles. They play some of the lesser-known soul music from the ’60s.

The second set, Hiles explained, gets people moving.

“Usually the dance floor is pretty hoppin’ by then, and it doesn’t quit,” he said.

John Provins, the sales and entertainment manager at Heston Farm Winery, believes this weekend’s show will be no different.

“The Soul Miners make people dance,” he said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, and there will be a $10 cover.

“Reservations are a must this weekend,” Provins said Wednesday. “We’ve already got half the seats filled or more.”

Guests should expect to enjoy a care-free night of music at Heston Farm, Hiles said.

“Going to a Soul Miners show, you leave your troubles at the door and have a great time. It’s what music ought to be.”

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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