Music, wine from around the world of Pullman

Merry Cellars will bring merriment and music to Pullman this weekend in its summer music concert series.

The series is a fully curated experience with carefully chosen local musicians, food and wine. Yellow Dog Flats will play at the next performance on Saturday, August 22, from 5 – 8 p.m. Soulstice will perform at the last concert on September 5.

Patrick Merry, winemaker at Merry Cellars, started making wine as a hobby while pursuing his masters in Computer Science. In 2004 he made the leap and began Merry Cellars. The first year of production yielded 425 casks compared to his current yearly output of 5,000 casks.

“In the first year of wine production, you can’t sell any product yet because it has to sit for a year, so the second year I tripled production before realizing, ‘Gosh, I have to go out and actually sell this stuff!’” he said.

Matthew Elkins, assistant winemaker at Merry Cellars, has worked at Merry Cellars for over a year, but his ties with the Pullman community go beyond that.

“I started by volunteering with the WSU viticulture and oenology club,” he said.

Elkins, who was involved in menu planning, said a lot of thought goes into the food, starting with the theme. This year’s theme is “Around the World”. Although the cellar is primarily a winery, the food comes first in the planning stages, he said.

“Once we know what our menu looks like, then we go through our case room,” Elkins said.

Merry said the concert series has grown since its premiere four years ago. What started as a casual music and barbeque event has grown into an event series, selling out months in advance, with catering provided by top chefs with hand selected wine pairings, he said. The bands chosen for the series are all local artists.

“Soulstice is certainly one of the crowd favorites,” Merry said.

The cover band plays music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, Merry said. Merry Cellars also likes to feature up and coming local bands with a unique sound, Merry said. Soulstice often plays at the Moscow Farmers Market and is a crowd pleaser when they perform. Stage presence is another factor Merry Cellars considers when choosing bands, which is just another reason Soulstice is one of our returning performers, he said.

Wendy Jo Peterson, keyboardist and vocalist for Soulstice, said she has been playing with the band for years. The band is made up of seven people, and when they first started jamming together, they “just seemed to gel,” she said. The band tries to focus on solid vocals and a good sound while branching out into different styles of music, Peterson said. The band started from a shared love of music, and then people started asking them to come out and rock, she said.

“We love to play music and we’re really excited about the Merry Cellars gig,” Peterson said.

Yellow Dog Flats, who will perform next month, have more of a bluegrass sound but is still made up entirely of local artists in order to keep the community aspect of the series. The furthest artist featured in the series is from Boise, Idaho, Merry said.

 “Over the first few years, it was really the community support that allowed us to thrive. We wanted to provide Pullman with a great outdoor music venue,” Merry said.