Having wine with The Petals is probably akin to having beer with a female Flight of the Conchords, or perhaps warm tea with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon during their Saturday Night Live “NPR Ladies” skits. These girls complete each other’s sentences.
“We’re kind of dorks,” says Summer Soll, the more gregarious half of this local folk-rock duo. “With a capital D,” notes Heidi Guinn, Soll’s performing and songwriting partner. “We can party like rock stars,” responds Soll. “… But we’re hippies!” shouts Guinn happily. Is it any wonder these two have collaborated?
Both ladies grew up in the Pacific Northwest—Soll in northern Idaho, near Spokane, Washington; Guinn in Eugene, Oregon—but they didn’t actually meet until a fateful rendezvous at a Las Vegas party in December 2005. Prior to that encounter, each Petal had been writing and playing songs on her own. “This has been the greatest project for me because it’s just us,” explains Guinn. “I’m bridging the gaps, and I’m proud,” echoes Soll.
The pair’s music is rooted in the earthy cafés and coffeehouses of their native Northwest, but it takes on new meaning when viewed through the bright—and often gender-exploitative—lights of Las Vegas. As females, The Petals face a unique challenge here: how to be taken seriously as women and artists in a city littered with strip clubs, direct-to-you escort services and scantily clad billboard models. “It’s in our constant thoughts,” admits Guinn. “But we feel like we are starting to break through.”
Soll estimates that the group actually gets more male than female support at shows (“[Flower] petals are not feminine or masculine,” she jokes), and both women cite fellow female acts like Grace Sims and Love Pentagon as pioneers in helping to erode the musical gender barriers in Sin City. “Break those barriers!” cheers Soll.
In the same collaborative spirit, The Petals have also joined ranks with the Uno Momentum Sound Collective, a kind of local musical fraternity (or sorority) featuring Vegas’ hottest indie bands. Uno Momentum releases a compilation CD each year—the 2008 disc contained tracks from Hungry Cloud, A Crowd of Small Adventures and Pan de Sal, among others. This year’s is set to include a new song from The Petals. “We’re so excited to be part of the CD this year,” says Guinn.
What’s perhaps most impressive about Soll and Guinn, however, is that they truly embrace the community vibe. Whereas other bands get caught up in ego or materialism, The Petals believe sharing their success makes them stronger. “We’re very into helping our friends out,” says Guinn.
With the Uno Momentum disc set for a spring release, a new LP on the way and pre-inauguration show scheduled for January 19 at Canvas Cafe, these Petals will have plenty to share.