The April Fools
A brief history
The April Fools began as a studio project for singer/songwriter Brian Drake, who intended to record a batch of his songs with help from a wide network of players to flesh out the tunes. He recruited a core group of guitar, bass, and drums to provide backing. It quickly became apparent that this was more than a backing group, and the four piece lineup of The April Fools was born. They released their self-titled debut in 2015 and a second album, “Colorwheel” in 2017.
After the release of “Colorwheel”, original guitarist Clay Williams left the band. The group drafted Texas transplant Brad McLemore (Sara Hickman, Soul Food Café) and Minneapolis veteran Terri Owens (Flamin’ Oh’s, Tetes Noires) and began work on “Third”. The album showcased the expanded lineup with compositions and vocals from both new members and an emphasis on layered guitars and vocal harmonies.
The end of 2019 found the band preparing material for their next release. When the world began locking down due to Covid-19, the band, spurred on by producer Michael Owens, chose to cautiously proceed with recording. The album “Wonderland” was recorded in an isolated fashion at Blackberry Way Studios and continues the band’s progression. Original bassist Scott Hreha departed and was replaced by Nick Salisbury (Ryan Bingham, Brian Fallon), with Murry Hammond of Old 97s guesting on “Lose Your Mind”. Released in November 2021, the album continues to garner airplay.
Stick around. There’s more to come!
Brian was a Rock and Roll convert from somewhere around the age of 7. When other kids were drawing pictures of Army guys, cars, cowboys and Indians, and space ships and flying saucers, Brian was drawing pictures of Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, guitars, drum sets, and amplifiers while singing along to every song on the radio. At age 12, along with the rest of America, he saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and it was obvious immediately things would never be the same.
The seemingly never-ending stream of British groups of cool guys playing cool music and drawing the adoration of screaming girls at every turn fired his imagination and has never let go. His first performance on a stage was at age 13 for a high school "fashion show" where he played drums in Ike and The Islanders. Shortly thereafter he got his first guitar from a mail-order catalog. He wrote his first song on a Sears Silvertone arch-top at age 14 and never looked back.
A fixture in the indie/alt Minneapolis music scene since the early 80's, Brian previously fronted, recorded with, and toured with Idiot Savant, The Fontanas, 60 Cycle Hum, and The Hard Left.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Ben Kaplan played in various local and regional bands. While playing the area clubs he worked with future Windham Hill guitar star Michael Hedges, and backed fiddle legend Vassar Clements. As a session musician and engineer at Blue Seas recording studio he worked with Lovin’ Spoonful bassist Steve Boone, Little Feat leader Lowell George, British rocker Robert Palmer, guitar legends Link Wray and Roy Buchanan, and Verdine White of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Since relocating to the Twin Cities in the early 1980's he has played with artists ranging from Mississippi blues legend Jessie Mae Hemphill to Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry.
A native Texan, Brad McLemore spent a decade working as a sideman for fellow Texas artists such as Sara Hickman and Soul Food Café, touring the country and performing with Hickman on Austin City Limits and The Tonight Show. Just before relocating north to Minneapolis, McLemore shifted his focus to working primarily as a singer/songwriter, writing songs, playing solo acoustic shows or fronting an electric trio to perform his original music. With songs that search the soul for love, justice, and peace of mind, his songs blend Americana styles and the best of country, folk, and blues into earthy tunes that feature emotionally dynamic guitar. He is excited to bring his songwriting and love of guitar interplay to The April Fools
Since the early 1980's, Terri Owens has toured and recorded extensively with Minneapolis-based bands like The Babysitters, The Flamin' Oh's, Tetes Noires, and Sonicbouquet. She has also lent her talents to numerous recordings as a session musician for Twin Cities labels, including Blackberry Way and Twin/Tone offshoot Medium Cool. Terri brings her wealth of experience and infectious enthusiasm to The April Fools as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and mandolin player—greatly expanding the band’s overall sound in the process.
In the past few years, bassist Nick Salisbury has been busy touring nationally & internationally with the likes of academy award winner Ryan Bingham, former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon (having also played on his 2018 album “Sleepwalkers”), and Minnesota’s own high energy soul band Sonny Knight & The Lakers. When not on tour, Nick can be found playing with Minnesota artists as diverse as The Dollys, Jack Klatt, The Neighborhood Trio, Ray Barnard, Jeff Ray & The Stakes, and many others. As the house bass player for the weekly MN Songwriters Showcase for over 10 years, he has backed hundreds of songwriters, leading to numerous sessions, and producing albums by Sarah Streitz, Peter Lochner, Graham Bramblett, and Mark Cameron. Nick also produced, arranged, and performed on the very unique and beautiful vocal/bass duo album “Firefly” with Ashleigh Still. A big believer in bass playing that elevates a band by keeping it simple, Nick is most at home backing up singers and supporting songs, and he’s excited to now be supplying the low notes for The April Fools.