For eight years, Joel Ward and Jake Ilika have crafted their unique blend of soulful, folk-infused music. Their partnership has produced an honest eight-song CD, Many Faces. Composed primarily by Ward, the songs include compelling lyrics about bitter winters and hard times, but sprinkled in are joyful moments and the bright sounds of mandolin, fiddle, and steel guitar. Ilika and Ward will have a CD release party at Forager Brewery on Friday June 24. They will be backed by the Moonlight Riders –Jillian Rae (violin), Max Graham (mandolin), and Jeff Swanner (upright bass). Ilika and Ward will start at 6:30 p.m. followed by local favorites Sterling Haukom, Suite, and Hair of the Dog.
Here’s a bit of insight into Ward’s life and music.
507: How did you get started making music?
Ward: I was a band geek in school. That’s where it started.
507: How and when did you and your musical partner Jake Ilika meet?
Ward: I met Jake through an ex-girlfriend about 15 years ago. The best part about playing with Jake is that we’ve been doing it for so long our harmonies are close to sibling and we lock in to each other very well. I know where he’s going and vice versa.
507: What do you find most fulfilling about making music?
Ward: The ability to be my own boss is very appealing. The harder you work the more gains you make. I like that. Equally, if not more so, is casting my spell on a crowd and being able to draw from and feed them energy at the same time.
507: What was the process of making your CD Many Faces like?
Ward: It was a lot of fun making this album. Jake and I recorded a lot of songs as a duo but felt they were lacking, so we enlisted some truly amazing musicians and they completed the sound for the studio.
507: What’s your favorite song on the CD?
Ward: “I Could but I Won’t” is my favorite track. It makes me think of a cowboy in a Tarantino movie or something. It also has a super catchy ending that hopefully you don’t see coming.
507: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Ward: Write a lot of music and don’t be afraid to admit when something isn’t good. Don’t try to sound like someone else.