So what brought us here? Pat Wynes and I started the band in about 2008 as kind of a gritty folk/blues/alt country thing. We played for about 10 years with Phil Redman, an upright bass player who has moved on to other projects, although he remains a great friend. We played the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Acoustic Fest in Manitowoc, WI a couple of times each, and released two CDs. (Remember CDs?)
Since Phil’s departure, Seth Bonte joined the band in the spring of 2022 and has provided a welcome new dimension. Our direction has changed a little, which will be obvious from our new EP (if you are familiar with, or get a chance to hear, our old CDs).
All the best,
I grew up in Evanston, IL listening to WLS out of Chicago and feeling blessed at the exposure to the breadth of genres. When I was ten, Rick Smelter, my social studies teacher, started me on guitar. The first song he taught me was Tom Dooley, a traditional murder ballad, and that’s been the path. In the ‘80s, I did a couple of albums with the power pop band Private Joy at The Shoes’ studio, Short Order Recorder, in Zion, IL, and then found myself in Los Angeles finishing college and before working for Enigma Records for a stint. I taught writing at a little college in Janesville, WI for 23 years. I live in Edgerton, WI with my amazing wife. My biggest lyrical influences are probably, Waits, McMurtry, Isbell, and Eaglesmith, (and Springsteen’s first album, maybe even a little Barenaked Ladies).
Pat Wynes grew up on the blue collar streets of the Illinois Quad Cities. Never one to pass up an adventure, he had a buddy who worked at the zoo, and they once liberated a baby jaguar to drive it around the local strip for entertainment. There are many more stories; all more fun if you supply the whiskey. I met Pat in August of 1997. He had been teaching science at the college for about five years before I arrived. He introduced me to Fred Eaglesmith’s songs. Pat had already been playing ukulele, but he decided to take up mandolin, and we began playing together. During this time he was a card-carrying “Fredhead,” and the first thing we recorded together was an Eaglesmith song called “Making’ Whiskey,” which made it onto a compilation album of Fred covers.
In service of our mission from God, in addition to ukulele and mandolin, he has played a drum kit, bongos, congas, harmonica, tenor guitar, melodica, shaker egg, kazoo, and stump fiddle. Beyond Fred, his favorite artists are Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and the Beatles. He knows the intro and outro songs to both Gilligan’s Island and Beverly Hillbillies. He lives out in the country between Janesville and Beloit with his wonderful wife and their dog. He has several acres of woods decorated with all kinds of creepy stuff. He is my spirit animal. But don’t tell him that. I don’t want him to get a big head.
Seth Bonte grew up in a small town in Iowa. He tunes pianos for a living and I have never met anyone who’s brain is more wired for music. He is wonderful to play with, partly because he seems completely unaware of the level and uniqueness of his musical talent. I met Seth when our kids were small and played together. He plays guitar, but he is often playing a bass line on it. When I mention a song by an obscure group, thinking I’m introducing him to it, invariably he tells me he owns the record. I’ve never heard him play any Springsteen, but boy howdy, he got that guitar and he learned how to make it talk. Like me, he lives in Edgerton with his excellent wife.