Meet the Band Members
Joe has been playing Mandolin for over 30 years. He studied with both Jazz luminary Jethro Burns and Classical virtuoso Giovanni Vicari. Besides Bluegrass, Joe enjoys playing Blues, Jazz, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Classical music. He has performed solo and as a member of various ensembles including The Mando-Tones, DeLaPenta’s Neapolitan Mandolins, and The Binder Brothers Blues Band. In the late 70s, Joe lived in New York City and performed as half of the music and comedy duo Bello & Stein. In addition, Joe spent a season with New York’s Big Apple Circus as a clown and acrobat. Joe and his wife Sue are proud parents of Joe, Molly, and JJ.
Originally interested in playing cello, Bill, at the behest of his seventh grade music teacher, instead took up the double bass and hasn’t looked back. Bill was a student of the late Dr. Charles Groeling and trained in the classical Franz Simandl method. Bill has been listening to the sounds of Bluegrass since childhood, often seeking out “hillbilly music” (as it was then known) on obscure Chicago AM radio stations. Bill has played everything from Baroque to Bluegrass to Jazz and Blues, and even 1950s Rock ‘n Roll. He is an alumn of the North Side Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, as well as a founding member of the Low Flame and Royal Standard Jazz Ensembles. Playing an elderly Kay Swingmaster instrument, Bill frequently attends Bluegrass jams and often free-lances with various groups who prefer the rich sound of the “doghouse” over the bass guitar. A resident of rural Will County Illinois, Bill enjoys large-scale model railroading and tinkering with electronic gadgets when not playing music.
Phil fell in love with bluegrass in his thirties and has been a devoted fan and student ever since. There are thousands of bluegrass guitar players who started and continue to learn from probably the greatest flatpicking guitar teacher ever, Steve Kaufman, and who listen with amazement and joy to the one and only Tony Rice. Phil is one of them. Phil also spent significant time taking lessons from guitarists Slavek Hanzlik and Tom Leeman. In 2011, Phil had the privilege of sharing the stage with bluegrass superstars Greg Cahill of Special Consensus, Mando great Don Stiernberg, and Marc Edelstein of Special Consensus and Million Dollar Quartet fame, as The Chicago Bluegrass Exchange. For the past several years, Phil has played at bluegrass jams around the Chicago area and has often sat in with The Iron Skillet Breakfast Band. Phil is a Benefactor of The Old Town School of Folk Music and lives in downtown Chicago. Phil plays a 2010 NAMM Show Bourgeois Custom Slope Shoulder D guitar and uses Martin brand Tony Rice Signature Monel Strings.
Phil started playing the 5 string banjo and guitar back in the folk music era. Phil’s banjo style quickly progressed into straight ahead Scruggs with many influences from Doug Dillard, Don Reno, Chris Warner, Bill Emerson, J.D Crowe, Alan Munde, Ben Eldridge, Tom Adams and Terry Baucom. Phil has played professionally for over thirty years and has been a member of several local bluegrass groups in the Chicago area, including The Running Fox Bluegrass Band with bluegrass aficionado Larry Robinson, and currently teaches bluegrass banjo at Down Home Guitars in Frankfort, IL.