Lauren Serpa photos
"I'm like, in the band," Pace confirmed over the phone yesterday from his Museum District residence. "Forever."
The 28-year-old plays percussion, trombone and cornet, while also contributing backup vocals for Bon Iver. "There's a ton of singers," Pace says of the nine-piece band, which starts its summer tour in Milwaukee on July 22. "Part of getting the music to sound the way it does is in all those harmonies."
Pace met Justin Vernon, the man behind Bon Iver, in September, when they were both participating in a project sponsored by Duke University to record reinterpretations of the Sounds of the South box set, which features Alan Lomax's legendary field recordings of folk music. Vernon and Pace's Richmond jazz ensemble, Fight the Big Bull, along with artists such as Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten and freak-folk band Megafaun, contributed to the compilation.
For a week, Pace lived in a house in Durham, N.C., with Vernon and other musicians, playing music, having dance parties and participating in DJ battles. Vernon had recently returned from a session with Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West in Hawaii, recording vocals for West's forthcoming album.
"I was familiar with the music," Pace says of Vernon's Bon Iver work. "But I wasn't familiar with how big of a fan base he had."
By way of example, one of the covers for the current issue of Spin magazine features the 30-year-old Vernon under the title "The Success Issue."
Not that any of it's going to Vernon's head. "He's a really wholesome, Midwestern dude," Pace says.
Last week, Pace played with the band on The Colbert Report and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon . "Both those guys are really nice," Pace says of Stephen Colbert and Fallon. "Just meeting someone you know has worked their whole life at creating this craft. It was really cool. Inspiring, actually."
It's a safe bet that Pace has more inspiring moments to look forward to as he continues to work with Bon Iver, but he says he plans to keep his roots in River City. "I came to Richmond to attend VCU," Pace says. "I loved Richmond so much I didn't want to leave."
Pace will continue to play in his local bands, Fight the Big Bull, Glows in the Dark and No BS! Brass Band. "I won't be here all the time, but I'll be able to make most of the Brass Band's monthly shows in town," Pace says, adding, "Yeah, that band's not going anywhere."
No BS! Brass Band plays at The Camel this Friday night before Pace leaves for Wisconsin to rehearse with Bon Iver in preparation for the summer tour.