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Vulfpeck performing in Portland, Oregon, 2017
Vulfpeck performing in Portland, Oregon, 2017
Background information
OriginAnn Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Years active2011–present
LabelsVulf Records

Vulfpeck is an American funk band founded in 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss and Joe Dart. The band has released four extended plays, six studio albums and one live album through their own record label. The band gained recognition in 2014 for releasing Sleepify, a silent album that exposed a loophole in Spotify's royalty distribution and funded an admission-free tour. The band is one of the first to sell out Madison Square Garden without a manager or backing label, and released the recorded performance as a live album in 2019. The band's most recent album, Schvitz, was released in December 2022.


The band members attended University of Michigan's music school. They first came together for a recording session[a] at the Duderstadt Center, a university facility that houses an arts library and other resources.[1][2] After reading an interview with German producer Reinhold Mack, band founder Jack Stratton conceived of Vulfpeck as an imagined German version of the U.S. session musicians of the 1960s such as the Funk Brothers, the Wrecking Crew, and the Swampers. The idea was to channel that era of the live rhythm section.[2][3][4]

The band's founding members are Jack Stratton on keyboards, drums and guitar, Theo Katzman on guitar, drums and vocals, Woody Goss on keyboards, and Joe Dart on bass.[3] Touring partners and frequent collaborators are Antwaun Stanley, Joey Dosik and Cory Wong.[5] Other contributing musicians include Charles Jones, Christine Hucal, David T. Walker, Bernard Purdie, James Gadson and Blake Mills.


Early works and Sleepify[edit]

The band's first release was titled "Beastly". It was released in April 2011 as a YouTube video. The track was noted for its bass performance by No Treble, an online magazine for bass players.[6] The band released its first EP, Mit Peck, in 2011 and a second EP, Vollmilch, in 2012. In 2013, three band members backed Darren Criss on his national tour, and Joe Dart was ranked as No Treble's 5th-favorite bassist.[7][8] Vulfpeck's first live performance was at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan, followed by a performance in New York City at the Rockwood Music Hall in October 2013.[2][9] The band released its third EP, My First Car, in August 2013. The EP features Antwaun Stanley on the band's first vocal track. A review of My First Car called it less energetic compared to the band's first two EPs but "still a fitting addition to a unique catalogue of music".[10]

In March 2014, Vulfpeck released Sleepify, a ten-track silent album on Spotify, in order to raise funds for an admission-free tour. The album generated $20,000 in royalties over a two-month period.[7][11] Subsequently, Spotify removed the album stating it violated their terms of content.[12] The band's royalty generation scheme received international press coverage.[13] In July the band received the royalties and soon after announced the Sleepify Tour.[14][15]

In August 2014, the band released its fourth EP, Fugue State. The EP's second track "1612" is styled after Wardell Quezergue's works and features Antwaun Stanley on vocals.[16] The song's title was inspired by the entrance code to an Airbnb Stratton was subletting.[17] The admission-free Sleepify Tour took place in September 2014. Tour locations included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor and New York City.[18] In 2015, Stratton proposed a more equitable model for Spotify payout distribution in which each artist's payout is based solely on that artist's listeners, rather than every listener using the service.[19]

Studio albums and Live at Madison Square Garden[edit]

Antwaun Stanley performing with Vulfpeck, 2017

Vulfpeck released Thrill of the Arts in October 2015. The album featured contributions by several artists including David T. Walker, Charles Jones and Blake Mills. Jim Fusilli of The Wall Street Journal called the music "gritty, in-your-face, not-prettified funk played with fire" and a homage to old-school funk and soul.[20] The album debuted at number 16 on the U.S. R&B Albums chart.[21] The band and Goodhertz Inc. released a production plug-in called Vulf Compressor.[22] The band performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in November 2015.[23]

Vulfpeck's second album The Beautiful Game was released in October 2016. It featured contributions by several artists including Cory Wong and Adam Levy.[24] The album debuted at number 10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[25] The band's third album, Mr Finish Line, was released in November 2017. It featured veteran instrumentalists James Gadson, Bootsy Collins, Michael Bland, David T. Walker, and vocalists Coco O., Antwaun Stanley, Joey Dosik, Christine Hucal, and Charles Jones.[26] In 2016 and 2017 the band performed regularly with Antwaun Stanley and guest artists including several shows with Bernard Purdie and Ziggy Modeliste.[27] The band performed a cover of "Boogie On Reggae Woman" on SiriusXM radio.[17]

Vulfpeck's fourth album, Hill Climber, was released in December 2018 and featured Cory Wong, Joey Dosik, Antwaun Stanley, Ryan Lerman, Larry Goldings, Mike Viola, Monica Martin, and Louis Cole.[28] In 2019, the Music Man guitar company introduced the Joe Dart Bass signature guitar, and subsequently the Joe Dart Jr. and Joe Dart II bass guitars.[29] Dart was ranked first by Bass Guitar magazine as the coolest new bassist.[30]

In September 2019, the band headlined a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, one of the first to do so without a manager or record label.[31] Recording of the performance was released as a live album, titled Live at Madison Square Garden, along with a full concert film. The live performance featured touring partners Stanley, Wong, Dosik, and guest artists Charles Jones, Chris Thile, Dave Koz, Nate Smith, Mark Dover, Richie Rodriguez and others.[32][33]

Vulf Vault and Schvitz[edit]

In August 2020, the band auctioned off the record space of the tenth track on their fifth album The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate to the New York City-based band Earthquake Lights. The album was released in October 2020.[34] In 2020 the band started issuing compilation albums under the Vulf Vault heading. The first was an album of eight songs featuring Antwaun Stanley followed by an album of eleven songs written by Woody Goss.[35][36] In 2021 the band issued vinyl-exclusive compilation albums highlighting the works of Katzman and Dart.[37]

In January 2022 the band released an album of original recordings titled Vulf Vault 005: Wong's Cafe. Highlighting Cory Wong's work, produced by him and released on streaming under his name, the album includes contributions by Eddie Barbash.[37][38] In August 2022, the band's label released an album of new recordings by Vulfmon (Jack Stratton's solo alias) titled Vulf Vault 006: Here We Go Jack,[39] featuring contributions from David T. Walker, Monica Martin, Mike Viola and others.

In November 2022, Vulfpeck announced their return to music by revealing their sixth album Schvitz, which was released in December 2022.[40] In an album review, Hunter-Tilney of Financial Times called the music "retro-funk and soul" and wrote the band "aims to put a smile on the listener's face".[41]


The band's production style is modeled after live TV performances of the past, such as The Midnight Special, The Old Grey Whistle Test, and Beat-Club. The band aims for a simple and minimal sound where each instrument contributes and does not dominate. Recordings are done live with real instruments, and seldom are different takes cut and mixed. Improvisation is a significant part of song development. The compositions are modeled after unconventional song structures of the past, such as "Ooh Child" with an A and B section where each section provides a lift, and "If You Want Me to Stay" with a repetitive eight bar progression.[3][44]

Side projects[edit]

In 2018, Vulf Records released a six-track record by The Fearless Flyers, a quartet consisting of drummer Nate Smith, bassist Joe Dart, and guitarists Cory Wong and Mark Lettieri, with contributors Sandra Crouch, Blake Mills and Elizabeth Lea.[45] In 2019, they issued their second six-track EP The Fearless Flyers II, featuring Chris Thile and Joey Dosik.[46] Their debut full-length album Tailwinds was released in 2020, featuring a horn section consisting of saxophonists Grace Kelly, Kenni Holmen and Alekos Syropoulos.[47] In 2021, the quartet released their recorded performance from supporting Vulfpeck at Madison Square Garden in 2019 in their first live album.[48] Their third six-track EP The Fearless Flyers III was issued in 2022.[49]

In 2019, band keyboardist Woody Goss released A Very Vulfy Christmas, a compilation of eight jazz-style rearrangements of Vulfpeck originals. The tracks feature drummer Dana Hall and bassists Matt Ulery and Joe Fee.[50][51]


The band members hugging one another onstage
Left to right: Dosik, Wong, Stanley, Goss, Dart, Katzman, Stratton, in 2017

Touring partners


  • Sleepify Tour (2014)[18]
  • Spring Tour (2015)
  • Wisdom of Crowds Tour (2017, 2018, 2019)


Chronological summary of original studio recordings

Vulf Vault original recordings


  1. ^ The session involved recording their original music on 2 inch tape as part of a friend's senior thesis project.
  2. ^ Original by Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West circa 1975. (Source: For the Last Time at AllMusic)


  1. ^ a b c d e Danny Hazan (May 18, 2015). "Can't Fake the Funk". Medium. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Jenn McKee (May 12, 2014). "Vulfpeck's Jack Stratton talks about U-M, 'Sleepify' and Spotify". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Tim Specce (January 12, 2014). "Vulfpeck Keep It Beastly". Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  4. ^ Larry Crane (January 2011). "Reinhold Mack: ELO, Queen, Black Sabbath & T. Rex". Tape Op (81): 34–47. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  5. ^ Andrew O'Brien (January 25, 2019). "Vulfpeck Announces Debut Performance at Madison Square Garden". Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Corey Brown (June 20, 2011). "Vulfpeck: 'Beastly' Live in Studio". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Andy Gensler (April 4, 2014). "Vulfpeck Stands to Earn More Than $18K From Spotify for Silent Album". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  8. ^ "No Treble: 2013 Reader Favorites". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  9. ^ Corey Brown (November 17, 2013). "Vulfpeck: 'Outro' Live at Rockwood Music Hall". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  10. ^ Wib Schneider. "Vulfpeck's 'My First Car' – EP Review". Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  11. ^ Kory Grow (April 25, 2014). "Don't Enjoy the Silence: Spotify Pulls Silent Publicity Stunt Album". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 3, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  12. ^ Harley Brown (April 26, 2014). "Spotify Removes Vulfpeck's 'Sleepify'". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  13. ^ Sleepify:
  14. ^ Paul Bonanos (July 22, 2014). "Vulfpeck's Half-Joke 'Silent Album' Made Some Serious Cash". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  15. ^ "Facebook: Vulfpeck – August 8, 2014". August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Vulfpeck: 1612". August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Vulfpeck performs '1612,' Stevie Wonder cover LIVE on Jam On!". October 7, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Archive: Vulfpeck website – September 26, 2014". Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  19. ^ "Why Does Spotify Pay So Little? [An Analysis]". March 23, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  20. ^ Jim Fusilli (October 13, 2015). "'Thrill of the Arts' by Vulfpeck Review". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  21. ^ "Billboard: Top R&B Albums – October 31, 2015". Billboard magazine. October 31, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  22. ^ "The Vulfpeck Sound: Jack Stratton Explains the Story of Vulf Compressor and the Boss Dr. Sample SP-303". Zumic. November 9, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  23. ^ "Jon Batiste Joins Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Bowl; Second Show to be Webcast". November 23, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  24. ^ "Vulfpeck Releases 2016 Studio Album, The Beautiful Game". October 17, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  25. ^ "Billboard: Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – November 5, 2016". Billboard magazine. November 5, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  26. ^ "Vulfpeck Announces New Album 'Mr Finish Line'". September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  27. ^ Performance 2016–17:
  28. ^ Sam Berenson (December 7, 2018). "Vulfpeck Releases Eighth Studio Album, 'Hill Climber'". Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  29. ^ Bass guitars:
  30. ^ Joel McIver (July 2019). "Hey Joe – interview". Bass Guitar. No. 170. pp. 18–21. Retrieved June 8, 2019 – via
  31. ^ Steve Knopper (October 3, 2019). "How Funk Band Vulfpeck Sold Out Madison Square Garden Without a Manager or Big Label". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 19, 2022. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  32. ^ Scott Bernstein (December 10, 2019). "Vulfpeck Performs 'Live At Madison Square Garden': Pro-Shot Full Show Video". Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  33. ^ Colby Hall (December 10, 2019). "Public Service Announcement: Vulfpeck Posts Full MSG Show on YouTube". Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  34. ^ Andrew O'Brien (October 23, 2020). "Vulfpeck Sells Track 10 of New Album for $70K+ on eBay to Earthquake Lights". Live for Live Music. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  35. ^ Nate Todd (April 3, 2020). "Vulfpeck Shares '3 on E' Featuring Antwaun Stanley Video". Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  36. ^ Nate Todd (July 2, 2020). "Vulfpeck Shares Unreleased Track 'Radio Shack'". Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  37. ^ a b Michael Broerman (December 8, 2021). "Vulfpeck Announces New Album, 'Vulf Vault 005: Wong's Cafe'". Live for Live Music. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  38. ^ "Today's New Albums: Lotus, The Weeknd, Vulfpeck & Cory Wong + More". January 7, 2022. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  39. ^ James Sissler (June 7, 2022). "Vulfmon AKA Jack Stratton Asks 'How Much Do You Love Me?' on New Vulf Vault". Live for Live Music. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  40. ^ Tyler Golsen (November 28, 2022). "Vulfpeck announce new album 'Schvitz'". Far Out. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  41. ^ Ludovic Hunter-Tilney (January 6, 2023). "Vulfpeck: Schvitz album review – inventive musicianship and good humour". Financial Times. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  42. ^ Mark McGwin (September 24, 2014). "Vulfpeck – Fugue State [Album Review]". Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  43. ^ Kendall Deflin (November 3, 2017). "Vulfpeck Releases 'Running Away' Featuring Joey Dosik, James Gadson & David T. Walker". Retrieved August 1, 2020.
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  46. ^ Kendall Deflin (April 22, 2019). "Vulfpeck Offshoot The Fearless Flyers Announce New Record, Release First Single". Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  47. ^ Andrew O'Brien (April 30, 2020). "Vulfpeck Offshoot The Fearless Flyers Announce First Full-Length Album, 'Tailwinds'". Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  48. ^ Matt Owen (February 4, 2022). "Cory Wong and Mark Lettieri announce the return of the Fearless Flyers". Guitar World. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  49. ^ Daniel Pearson (March 2, 2022). "The Fearless Flyers Live Out Their Jazz Pop Calling". Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  50. ^ Andrew O'Brien (November 26, 2019). "Vulfpeck's Woody Goss Announces 'A Very Vulfy Christmas' Album". Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  51. ^ "Bandcamp: Woody Goss – A Very Vulfy Christmas". December 23, 2019. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  52. ^ "Woody Goss: High Loon!". Apple Music. April 28, 2023. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  53. ^ John Floridis (May 24, 2023). "Musician's Spotlight – Theo Katzman (audio interview)". Montana Public Radio. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
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  55. ^ Todd, Nate (April 28, 2023). "Watch Jack Stratton Show Off His Dance Moves In New Vulfmon Video". JamBase. Retrieved June 23, 2023.

External links[edit]