Calling all angels

Gin-soaked Angels bring improv-rock to Peach’s

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Yellow Springs’ Gin-soaked Angels will perform at Peach’s on Oct. 30

There are many ways for musicians to come together and form a band. Perhaps someone sees a flier at a music store or an ad on Craigslist. Maybe a mutual friend introduces people with similar musical tastes. Sometimes, there’s an open mic night at a coffee house.

The Gin-soaked Angels came together in just such a way. It was August of 2012 and guitarist/singer Ryan Stinson was hosting a show at The Spirited Goat in Yellow Springs. Tony Powers showed up with his guitar and played some songs. Later, Stinson was closing out the night. He began playing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” and the lush, open chords of the songs intro began to ring out.

Suddenly, a disembodied lead guitar line floated up from the crowd. Powers began playing David Gilmour’s classic licks along with Stinson’s strumming. Some musicians might take offense, stop the song and ask the player in the crowd to be quiet. Stinson however, took a different approach.

“It was awesome,” Stinson says. “Hearing that guitar out there, playing what I always envisioned. It wasn’t note-for-note, but you could tell he knew the song. It fit exactly what I was doing. It was like, ‘You have to get up here, come on.’ It was my first ‘aha’ moment with meeting another musician.”

The two became fast friends. They spent the remainder of that summer developing a common musical language and playing as much as they could.

They played at bonfires. They carried their guitars around town and into friends’ living rooms. Soon, Micah Mapes set up shop behind the drums, but finding a bass player took a bit more effort.

They joked that when they brought on Ben Rorrer—their fifth bass player in three years—about a potential Spinal Tap moment.

“We did tell Ben that he’s allowed to spontaneously combust, but only if he does it on stage,” Powers laughs.

Powers and Stinson have formed a musical brotherhood, despite their different musical backgrounds. Powers spent his childhood taking piano lessons that seemed to be going nowhere. He enjoyed the instrument, but the sheet music made no sense to him. He could listen and watch players to pick things up, and he began writing songs. Still, he describes music at that time as a much more mechanical process where the answers were always either right or wrong. It wasn’t until one night at Wright State University on a piano in the student union that everything kind of clicked.

“I would sit in there until they closed the building down,” Powers says. “I had this wall break down in my brain where I didn’t have to play a sequence of memorized notes anymore. I could just let go and play the instrument.”

Stinson also grew up surrounded by music. His father played in a blues/rock cover band and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s soulful chops were an early introduction to the limitless power of music. He took up trumpet in elementary school before switching to drums at age 14.

When he felt the desire to write his own music, another instrument change was needed.

“Once I hit 18- or 19-years-old, it was really hard to write songs on drums,” Stinson says. “It was a natural thing to choose guitar and start figuring it out. It was kind of a long road to learn guitar after being a drummer, but it was good because my hands were already used to doing two different things.”

Much like the band’s inception, the moniker came from a serendipitous moment.

After a show one night, they decided to hit a bar. Outside, a group of fire spinners were performing. Powers also spins. Fire performers are a tight-knit community and it is common for strangers to jump in and play. He lit up and began a move that makes him appear to have wings on his back.

Nearby, a duo of tipsy bar patrons watched and began doing what drunken people do.

“One of them just kept asking me, ‘Are you an angel? Are you an angel?’ They kept following me around with this paper cup of gin and kept trying to give me a drink of it,” Powers says. “He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and he just dumped the whole thing on top of me when he tried too hard to hand it to me. I was reeking of gin and he just busts up laughing saying, ‘You’re a gin-soaked angel! You’re a gin-soaked angel!’”

On the way home, they joked that it was a pretty good name for a band. Their next time on stage, they introduced themselves as such, and the name stuck.

Getting a band together need not be a difficult process. The key is to find like-minded players willing to go on the same musical journeys. The GSA check their egos at the stage door and always serve the song first.

“We both sing harmony. We both sing lead,” Stinson says. “We both play rhythm guitar. We both play lead guitar. It’s a lot of fun because nobody out there knows what’s happening—sometimes we don’t even know what’s happening on stage.”

Gin-soaked Angels will perform for free on Friday, Oct. 30 at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. The band starts at 10 p.m. for patrons 18 and up. For more information, please find Gin-soaked Angels on Facebook.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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