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The Groove Hogs.  "Live"

Even though the members of "the Groove Hogs" come from a variety of backgrounds and influences, the one thing that tightly and totally binds them together is their common sense of depravity and general lack of ethics. 

But Seriously Folks............

Who are these guys?  What makes them so unusual?  How do they manage to put out such a tight sound?  Who knows?  Hell, they sure don't!!  But why question a sure thing?  The chemistry between these guys is unique (No drug jokes please).  They have fun on stage and they have fun off stage.  They understand that you get out of something in direct proportion to what you put into it.  Sound corny to you?  Me too, but it's true.  Take alcohol consumption, for example......

(Never stay serious for long!)


Chris Andersen - Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Trumpet, Vocals, and Percussion (he shakes things).

Check this out.   He plays Alto.  He plays Tenor. He plays them BOTH AT ONCE!!

Talk about name dropping, Chris has backed up Bob Hope, The Temptations, Englebert Humperdink, Ellis Marsalis, and also played with the Green Bay Packer Band for 6 years (until one cold winter day when his mouthpiece froze solid to one of his horns!).  It's a little known fact that Green Bay Packer wide receivers perfected their now famous leaps into the stands because they were trying to get away from..... uh, thank Chris for his fabulous talents.

Chris has a day job that requires him to play with "The Groove Hogs" for therapy.  Chris' psycho-analyst has determined that Chris is indeed a psycho in need of analysis.  However, playing rhythm and blues with "The Groove Hogs" allows Chris to release his pent up anxiety in such a way as to be potentially harmful to himself (and his dogs), but great sounding and really cool to watch.

All you need is one glimpse of that wild-man look in his eyes and you'll keep coming back for more.  After all, one of these times, you know he's gonna go up in cloud of smoke and flame.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Steve Cooper - Tenor Sax, Vocals

The addition of Steve Cooper to "The Hog Horns" provides no end of energy and sizzle.  Steve is a tenor sax player that cannot help but be noticed!   Steve is solid musician and provides the essential intensity required by the song.   Some musicians enjoy playing (isn't that just wonderful...), But Steve Cooper makes the audience enjoy his playing.  His heart and soul fly from the bell of his horn on every note, and, quite frankly, it really cooks!  Steve played with the Groove Hogs years ago and then left to pursue other musical directions, but the fates have seen to it that he ended up back in the one band that matches up perfectly in both intensity and fire!

Speaking of fire, Steve loves to play when there are fire-fighters in the audience.  You are probably wondering why this is so.  Is it that fire-fighters remind Steve of things that are smokin' hot?  Wrong!  Maybe Steve likes fire-fighters because they deal face to face with danger and make split-second, life-saving decisions?  Wrong again.  Steve likes to play for fire-fighters because they are the only ones who have ladders tall enough that, when climbed to the top, allow one to hear how high Steve can play his Tenor Sax. Rumor has it that Steve played an outdoor concert and even dogs had to climb up ladders to hear all of the notes coming from Steve's horn.  When Steve was approached by NASA as a potential astronaut for a manned flight to the moon, Steve's response was "No thanks.  I've already played much higher than that!  Call me when you're going higher than some place I've already played!"  No Kidding!

Tony Giovannini - Sound Engineer

Behind every great performance is a really good technical crew.  You know, the guys/gals (?) who make the band look and sound as good as possible.  Tony handles the work of a whole crew by himself!  How does he do it?  The band doesn't know, Tony's not even sure, but the sound is too good to be happening by accident!  In addition to being a well seasoned sound man, Tony is also a musician, having filled in with the Groove Hogs on both Trombone and Drums. Tony has also opened shows for Steve Miller, Eddie Money, Herman's Hermits. Tony has also performed on stage with Wynton Marsalis.  Holy Cow!  The members of the Groove Hogs want to make it clear that a big part of the credit for the success of every show goes to Tony and his ears.

There is another side of Tony that needs to be mentioned at this point.  The side of Tony that allows him to succeed where lesser men might fail.  A side of him that emerges when the distance between him and his bed is massive and reminds Tony (and all of the hogs) that "Next Tuesday night is wafer night at the ball park".  The technical term for this condition is Schizophrenia or multiple personalities.  That's right, when the going gets tough, Tony becomes... "Harry Carry", the famous baseball announcer and sports enthusiast.  As Harry, Tony begins to bitch out loud at John Stelzer, the notorious leader of The Groove Hogs, continually taunting and belittling him.  The end result being something wondrous to behold.  "Harry" takes outrageous shots at John and all anyone can do is double over, laughing hysterically, and hit the floor.  By the time folks are aware that "Harry" has appeared, "Harry" just as quickly slips away into the deep, dark recesses of Tony's twisted and tortured mind.  Oddly enough, Tony claims to have no memory of the fact that he has just verbally assaulted his boss.  How convenient is that!?!

Brian Gruselle - Keyboards, Vocals

Rumor has it this guy has at least 12 fingers.... ON EACH HAND!!  While this did prove a hardship for Brian as a child (Brian's mother had to specially design and knit his winter mittens), it has made it possible for Brian to produce waves of sound both rhythmically and harmonically from the keyboard!

Brian's vocal style ranges from the blues to the "All Gravel" Rock and Roll sound.  He sings high and he sings low, (mostly high)!   Brian has opened shows for national acts such as The Nylons, Dana Carvey, and Henny Youngman.  He has also written and produced TV and radio jingles for area businesses, performing all the music and doing the voice-over as well.     Brian has the fierce desire to perform and always gives 150 percent.

Brian started his career at age 18, performing with various club and show bands before going solo in 1983.  After years of playing piano bars and small clubs for patrons who would come to the bar to watch TV, Brian decided to try his hand at something else.    However, since there was no place to play his original blend of Latin/Country/Acid/Punk music in Wisconsin, Brian got a "REAL" job during the day while visions of rhythm and blues danced through his dreams.

Then it happened!  The Groove Hogs called him.  They needed a key-"board" player.  Brian thought they needed a key-"broad" player and he instantly joined the band.  By the time he realized his mistake, he was hooked on the pulse of the sound that fly's from any stage that "the Groove Hogs" play on.

Come on out and hear the band.  You won't believe how the groove lifts you out of your chair!

Ron Hanson - Vocals, Harmonica.

Ron brings 25 plus years of music and life experience to the Groove Hogs.   Not bad for a guy who's only 29 years old!   In reality, Ron ( well, maybe a little older than 29!) has  backed many heavyweight bands in in his career including "BB King" and "REO Speedwagon".  Ron's voice (OK, just a few years older than 29!) has been compared to  Delbert McClinton and Joe Cocker.  Ron also adds some sweet blues to the mix with his harmonica (No "Whore-Monica" jokes, please!).  Having Ron (Alright - substantially older than 29!) in the band adds a nice dose of soul to the Groove Hogs.  If you've heard the Hogs before, you need to hear them again!  "If you ain't heard Ron with the Hogs, You ain't heard &@%$#"!  (Actually, Ron can barely remember back to when he was 29!?!)

Ron's tasks as a Groove Hog include not only vocals, guitar and harmonica.  It is a little known fact that Ron is also a master of the following: dirty jokes, vulgar language, audience harassment, booking agent intimidation, over-eating, under-dressing, drinking and smoking, vehicle maintenance, window washing, and general all-around band member embarrassment.  Ron is currently taking "heart-throb" lessons from the resident masters, the horn section.  Soon he will have enough confidence to venture off of the stage and out into the audience while he sings.  Ron is learning that there's a lot more action in the audience than there is on stage!

Pat Kiel - Guitar, Vocals.

See Pat.  See Pat play his guitar.   "Feel" Pat play his guitar (figuratively speaking, of course).  See an audience full of people come to life when Pat plays his guitar.  These people are suddenly having the most fun they've ever had (with their clothes on, anyway).  WHY, you might ask?  Because Pat is layin' it down good and proper, like few other guitarists do. 

After 10 years of touring the Midwest in bands such as The System, The Visitors, and Champagne Jam, Pat has developed the edge it takes to make people leave their chairs and hit the dance floor!  Hear him perform tunes from Delbert McClinton, The Commitments, and Tower of Power, and you'll agree that his smooth vocal style is equally impressive.  With Pat's energy driving "The Groove Hogs", the destination is sheer musical satisfaction.

Ever since Pat was a kid, he was interested in playing guitar.  His first guitar was one he made himself from an empty box of laundry soap, a yard stick (fret-less) and 6 really big rubber bands.  Pat really dug the unique sound of this instrument, but it had one big drawback.  You're probably thinking that it was the lack of tuning knobs, right?  WRONG!  That's never stopped Pat before.  No, the problem was that the darn thing just wasn't loud enough!  There was no place to plug it in!  So, Pat saved all the money he stole that winter, and got himself a '57 laundry box.... no wait,  a .57 cent bag of really cool rubber, seriously, a really cheap electric guitar and a beat up amplifier (after all, how much money is there to steal in Whitelaw, WI?).  Yes sir, Pat started out in a humble fashion,  teaching us all to "respect our roots" (if you know what I mean).

John Laws - Bass Guitar

Having John Laws playing bass in your band is like having a never ending source of musical adrenaline keeping the groove alive and happening.  John knows all about the blues-based rock and soul style that is the trademark of The Groove Hogs.  John Laws has been living that musical style through out his career, which spans more than three decades. John can boast playing with such noted musicians as Pat MacDonald, Bryan Lee, Paul Black, Paul Flipowitz, Pine Top Perkins, and Big-eyed Willie Smith.  While a member of these bands, John has opened shows for Sam and Dave, The Radiators, John Lee Hooker, and The Ink Spots.  All the names listed above in one way or another, represent the essence of Blues, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock 'n Roll.  With these credentials, John Laws is the quintessential bass man for The Groove Hogs. 

Like many musicians, John has a side interest which despite it's drain on his resources, keeps him occupied constantly.  John's side interest is collecting and restoring vintage bass guitars.  Currently, John's collection consists of many more instruments than he can afford.  When asked what kindles John's passion for these vintage instruments, John responds with one of a number of stock replies:

  1. "I'm hoping to find one that makes me sound like Jaco Pastorius...or Ray Brown...which ever!
  2. "I can toss them, one at time, into the fireplace to help keep me warm on those cold Wisconsin Nights"
  3. "I'm looking for one that will stay in tune."
  4. "In the event of a world-wide flood, I can lash them into a raft, save myself and laugh at all the sorry SOB's who've given me a hard time about my bass collection."
  5. "I'm searching for the fabled "Bass Guitar of Orpheus", who when not playin' his lute, was known for his down and dirty grooves as well as being the baddest mambajama in the funk scene of ancient Greece."
  6. "I'm looking for the one that's loud enough!"
  7. "Don't you have anything better to think about?  Get a !$@#!$ life!"

Regardless of the real reason for his collection, John Laws' bass playing keeps the Groove Hogs at the forefront of their musical genre as well as contributing to one of the best stage shows currently on the road.  Do yourself a favor and catch The Groove Hogs with John Laws on bass. You're gonna love it!

Patrick Phalen - Trumpet, Flugel Horn, Vocals, Percussion (He hits things!).

You don't need to know what a Flugel horn is to appreciate this musical scholar's many talents.  Hey, they wouldn't let just anyone teach your children.... at least, we don't think so.... it probably depends on what they're being taught!  Formerly a college professor of music,   Pat's credits are endless.   Pat has played for Bob Hope, Ed Shaughnessy of The Tonight Show band, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Inkspots, The Shirelles, Woody Herman, and The Temptations, just to name a few!  Pat has also been honored as the Yamaha Instrument Company's Performing Artist of the Year.    As leader of the Groove Hogs horn section he is truly a must-see, must-hear member of the band.

Pat is regionally known for his very sharp ears.  He has been known to carve the family turkey with them.... right through the breast bone!   Pat uses his sharp ears as weapons to keep the rest of the horn players in line.... much like an electric fence keeps cattle from grazing in the wrong fields.  At least four or five times per night, Pat herds the horn players off the stage and into the audience... or behind the bar.... or on top of the bar.... sometimes across the street where there's a better band playing and the drinks are cheaper. 

Pat is also responsible for deciding what songs the band will play each night.  So if you want to hear something in particular, you'll need to be very, very, nice to Pat.   Buy him food and drink, laugh at all of his jokes, maybe even slip him some cash, and maybe, just maybe, the next time we are back in that club, he'll have that song on the list. NOT!

Adam Plamann - Baritone Sax, Vocals, Percussion

Playing the baritone sax carries the responsibility of locking in the low end of the horn section.  Adam plays with a precision that is difficult to achieve on such a large instrument.  The result is a 'rich' sounding horn section that will grab your attention and hold it all night long.  Adam's vocal contribution to the band, both as a lead and background singer, is phenomenal!  The Groove Hogs feature Adam many times nightly because when the hot spotlights are on him, Adam is incredibly cool!

Being the sexiest, best looking member of the Groove Hogs, Adam is responsible for important things in the group besides just playing his horn.   When Adam sings 'James Brown', all of the female members of the audience check his left ring finger, see that he's not married, and get up and dance, hoping he'll notice them.  Adam likes to fan their flames with a wink of his eye and a shake of his hips.   What these women don't know is that Adam has had this particular 'flinch' since he was a young child.  His parents took him to see specialists all over the country, but no one could help him.  One day, while having a fairly violent 'flinch' in a shopping mall, two young women ran up to Adam and began proposing marriage.  Immediately, Adam began to sense that his life-long affliction could turn into the start of something really wild!  Seeing is believing and sometimes, the truth doesn't hurt.  In fact, sometimes it feels soooooo good!

John Stelzer - Drums, Vocals.

Dancing to John's grooves is like drinking free beer.   Ahhhh, it feels so nice!   With 15 years of professional playing beneath his belt, John has backed up the likes of Poco and Eddie Money, and has played with Pat MacDonald of Timbuk 3.  He's also a fixture in the commercial music scene with over 25 recording credits to his name!  Along with John Laws, Pat Kiel, and Brian Gruselle, John rounds out one of the tightest rhythm sections to hit the Midwest in many years.  There are few things in life better than a tight rhythm section.

John is one of the founding oinkers of the Groove Hogs.   Cool and clean shaven (rarely), John drives the band... to every job they play.   His keen perception (Blind as a bat)  and finely toned instinct (dumb as a stick) are the very hallmark of his creed.  Never under-estimate John (it's hard to get that low) when it comes to handling an audience (preferably female).  John's creative force (which occasionally lifts him off his barstool) plays a major role in shaping the Groove Hog 'experience' for the audience. 

While John seems clever and witty on stage (like a head of cabbage), off stage he is sensitive and quiet (while he raises a shot glass to his lips).   The band members feel very fortunate to have John in the band (he gets the blame for all the bad stuff) because his introspective nature (plays with his food) reminds them all that life is a barrel of !&@$% with the handles on the inside.

Tom Vanden Avond - Trombone, Vocals.

The trombone is normally a difficult instrument to play, but Tom makes it look easy and sound great!  Tom sure fits in with the bands love em' and leave em' mentality (it's a good thing that audiences always love them).  Tom adds a certain 'sparkle' to the Horn section (as if they were short on 'sparkle') that fills out both the sound and the attitude.  Tom surprised the band when he revealed his vocal capabilities.  His raspy tone quality is perfect for the songs he sings.  Tom's trombone playing is just one of the reasons that the Groove Hogs are a truly excellent, wacky experience.

Some of you more perceptive readers may have noticed that the paragraph above contains no "BIG" names that Tom has worked with in the past.  That does not mean they aren't any, it just means that Tom is actually another really "famous" person living incognito.  The members of the band aren't exactly sure who he really is, but they think that he might be a famous golf pro (either Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods).  He'll tell you that he's just another ordinary guy trying to make some money and have some fun in a band, but he isn't fooling anybody.    His flip-phone rings constantly and the conversation always begin's with, "I told you never to call me here..."!  He drives around in a really hot, limited edition, hot-rod truck.  Something's up with this guy, that's for sure!!   His conspicuous lack of a diamond pinky ring or 24 carat solid gold ear ring attempts to throw one of off the trail.

The band members invite you all out to see if you can figure out the answer to the mystery, "Who Tom Vanden Avond Really Is?"

Revised 09/15/10
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