Not sure how I did it, but I managed to get some of the finest musicians in Chicago to work on this CD. I must have promised them something – maybe toast – I can’t remember. Either way, here are some bios for The Groovy Guys.
Mark Furlong, bass guitar/producer
Ever one to shun the spotlight, Mark has toiled away in numerous little-known bands since 1980, always under various noms de plume (or would that be noms de bass?). He was plucked out of obscurity by the Ramova Brothers in 2005, and now he’s stuck with whole famn damily. In addition to playing, Mark is also a seasoned producer of alternative music. Prior to Comes Up Grinnin’ Mark produced two live CDs by Chicago's premier banjo orchestra, The Windy City Jammers. Through his work with Thresholds, an organization dedicated to assisting people with mental illness, Mark has produced compilation CDs by Threshold members. His bass philosophy is “Play the root on the one and smile a lot.”
Long time keyboardist for too many bands to name, Tony has taken his talents to the people. He is currently the Minister of Music Mount Olive Church in Chicago. Tony teaches piano and also works with Joy Art Music, a music production company in Evanston, Illinois.
Randy Lee, guitar, singer
Over the course of the last 25 years, Randy has played and recorded with a number of bands including Nathan-Coates, Mike Jordan and the Rockamatics and the Johnny Moe Band. Randy also enjoys a solo career playing clubs and coffeehouses throughout the Chicago area. Randy currently lives in Libertyville. He and his family enjoy nature walks, poetry, theater and public executions.
Don Stiernberg, mandolin/singer
While still a teenager, Don found his direction in life when he met Jethro Burns for mandolin lessons. The rest, as they say, is history. Lucky for me, its Chicago history. Since then, Don has played mandolin with everyone from Chet Atkins to Steve Goodman, from Chicago to Germany. A member of The Jethro Burns Quartet, Don co-produced and played rhythm guitar on Jethro’s final recordings, “Swing Low, Sweet Mandolin” (1995) and “Bye Bye Blues” (1997). Visit Blue Night Records, Elderly Instruments, Amazon.com, ITunes or CD Baby to get one of his many recordings. Go to www.donstiernberg.com or MySpace/Music and look up Don Stiernberg “All Things Mandolin” for some musical mando-fun.
Dan Wile, drums and percussion
Dan has played the drums for 31 years (with time out for meals and naps). He has played a wide variety of musical styles, most passably. He currently plays with Kenny & the Rainmakers, The Deb Seitz Band and others. Dan has opened for lots of big artists, but can’t remember all of them. He does, however, remember K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Jimmy Buffet. Dan is the only Chicago drummer to voluntarily play above the Arctic Circle (Thule, Greenland, 1992) AND to have appeared with a rock band in front of 2000 deaf people (O'Hare Sheraton, 1979). Dogs like him. He lives in a house and enjoys toast.
Jim Cox, bass, Blue Saturday Night
A member of the Blue Night Records family of musicians, Jim’s bass playing is as good as it gets. He has played with everyone from Judy Roberts to Rosemary Clooney. How he ended up on my CD, I’ll never know. Visit him at MySpace.
Jim Massoth, clarinet, Blue Saturday Night & New Year's Eve
I lassoed Jim into playing the clarinet on a couple of cuts before I heard his own CD, "Songs From The Kingdom Of Jazz", available at CD Baby, ITunes or Amazon. Up till then, I only knew him as Jim Yates’ partner/engineer at Yates Studio. Jim is a jazz musician of extraordinary talents. If you’re thinking of adding to your jazz collection, his CD is a must. Visit www.sothandcaruso.com to hear for yourself.
Bill Porter, trombone, Blue Saturday Night
When Bill Porter walked into the studio to record a track for the song Blue Saturday Night, I had no idea who he was. I suppose I can be excused though, being an old folkie as I am. So when he told me he toured with Frank Sinatra for eight years, I was duly impressed, but what really got me to say “WOW!” was when he told me he played in the BOZO BAND for 13 years! Visit his website at www.billporterorchestra.com and read all about it as you listen to some smokin’ big band jazz.
Bryant Smith, trombone, & Nick Ellman, clarinet, Tokyo Stomp
I found both Nick Ellman and Bryant Smith by reading the bulletin board at my local Greek coffee shop. I was actually looking for a tuba player. A bunch of local Oak Park River Forest high school students had formed a brass band and were looking for work. I called and Bryant told me that the tuba player had skipped town, but that he had a rockin’ clarinet player instead. (Hopefully the tuba player made it to his graduation ceremony before disappearing.) Bryant and Nick made it to the studio and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Bryant is currently a trombone performance major at Northwestern University where he plays with the top orchestra. Bryant also works as a freelance teacher and funk trombonist, gigging regularly with his instrumental funk band, The Reverend Funk Connection www.reverendfunkconnection.com. Nick is finishing up his senior year.
Megon McDonough, background vocals
What can I say. It’s Megon. Who sounds better than that? Having her sing harmonies with me on this CD just makes me giddy. Her Chicago theater credits are only rivaled by her recording prowess. Megon has recorded and released twelve solo albums, eleven compilation albums and five albums with The Four Bitchin’ Babes. See for yourself at either MySpace/Megon McDonough or through her website, www.megonmcdonough.com.
B “Dazzle” Doyle, Dead Choir background vocals
Beau Doyle, or “Dazzle” as some may call him, is my baby brother and one of the voices in the Dead Choir. A singer/songwriter in his own right, he prefers to lay low and remain under the radar. Why? Don’t know. I made him join me on this CD, if only for this one song. I hope I can persuade him to do more in the future.
Mark Doyle, ‘Mr. Ramova Himself’, acoustic guitar/singer
Although Mark never made it in to play on the CD, I fully expect him to play out with me, (every now and then), when he’s not busy being a very important person. (Mark worked for the Clinton administration for 6 years, and then travelled with Joe Biden on the history making Obama/Biden ticket, which is why he was gone when I was recording.) Mark Doyle, “Mr. Ramova”, is the front man for the mercurial Ramova Brothers. Performing only once or twice a year, usually as a benefit for WGN Radio 720 Neediest Kids Fund, the Ramova Brothers were born from the soft hearts and twisted minds of the Tribune and WGN Radio’s Rick Kogan and my brother Mark. A (mostly) acoustic band, The Ramova Brothers perform an eclectic and sometimes raucous blend of urban folk and acoustic blues. Poor Mark, he can’t make up his mind. Does he want to be a politician? Or a musician? Only time will tell. History aside, I’m glad to have him back home.