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Description: "Country, jump blues and jazz"

Chris O'Connell - vocals/ guitar (Asleep at the Wheel)
Don Margraf - guitar
Alex Aspinall - drums
Lee Bloom - keys
Brandon Essex - upright bass

Chris OʼConnell and the SmartAlecks, a five-piece combo from the Bay Area, features Grammy Award-winning guitarist and vocalist Chris
OʼConnell, an original member of Americaʼs premier western swing band, Asleep At The Wheel. Chrisʼs song book is heavy with 1940s r&b and swing tunes, country music, western swing, jazz, and classic pop. Among Chrisʼ specialties is interpretation of songs written by some of todayʼs most prolific and intriguing songwriters, including Asleep At The Wheel alumnus LeRoy Preston, “Titan of the Telecaster” Bill Kirchen, and long time collaborator and pal Blackie Farrell. Any given musical menu might contain tunes by Amos Milburn, Dolly Parton, Clyde McPhatter, Ella Fitzgerald, and Hank Williams.
With over 150 collective yearsʼ experience playing music for friends, fans, and aficionados, Chris OʼConnell and the SmartAlecks bring range and mastery to every occasion. They illuminate! They commiserate! They celebrate! Come see how they do it!

Growing up in Virginia, Chris O'Connell learned melody and harmony from the radio hits of Detroit, Liverpool, Philly and L.A. At the footloose age of 18 she found work with an upstart country music band calling themselves “Asleep at the Wheel.”
This led to fifteen years on the road, nine albums, dozens of awards including a Grammy with “The Wheel.” As their success grew, so did the size of the band and the range of the music. They became the best western swing band in the country, touring with as many as 12 musicians. Chris constantly pushed the boundaries, singing blues, R&B, jazz songs backed by fiddles and steel guitars. She drove several incarnations of that band around the stage with steady, insistent rhythm guitar and vocals, but she became especially known for searing hearts with wrenching, soulful ballads.

During the mid-1960s Don Margraf was the guitar player for the notorious East Bay pre-punk band, The Crabs.  The Crabs were billed locally and regionally with early northern California scene bands such as Milkwood, Sky Blue, Stained Glass, The Youngbloods, and the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band.  Don later worked the Western honky tonk circuit and played concert stages for ten years as a singer/songwriter/guitar-playing hired gun, sharing stages with Ike, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Rodriguez, Buddy Guy, and Van Morrison, among others.

Alex Aspinall has performed and recorded with many great musicians including: Mel Graves, Randy Vincent, Tyler Blanton, Dave Macnab, Chris Amberger, Ken Cook, Doug Miller,  Noam Lemish, Cliff Hugo, The One World Band,  Andrew Emer, Edo Castro, Erik Lindquist, Kathleen Grace, Shea Breaux Wells, Mimi Fox, Mel Martin, Lee Press On & the Nails, Isaac Carter, Bob Johnson, John Stowell, Smith Dobson, and The Gentry Bronson Band.

A San Francisco-based pianist, composer, arranger and producer, Lee Bloom has worked with a variety of creative artists in many genres including Madeleine Peyroux, Pete Escovedo, Hal Stein, Mary Stallings, Jonthan Poretz, Todd Phillips, Steve Heckman, Jamie Davis, Dan Hicks, among others.  As pianist, Lee contributed to the forthcoming tribute recording to bluegrass icon Hazel Dickens, accompanying vocalists Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cach and Madeline Peyroux.

Brandon Essex  got hooked on music at an early age. He began playing loud rock music in bars and clubs at the tender age of 15. Still in
his teens, Brandon flipped for the double bass, joined a quartet and landed his first steady gigs. Soon after that, he actually
started learning how to play. In recent years, he has prolonged this trend toward simplicity, and continued to search the dusty
annals of music for the roots of the music he finds so compelling. Most chairs and cigarette machines agree that he can indeed play
both quarter notes and half time, all while remaining standing on his own two feet for the entire evening.

Doors open 7:30
Date: Saturday, November 21, 2015
Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm EST
Duration: 2 hours
Priority: 5-Medium
Access: Public
Created by: Eloise Cotton
Updated: Saturday, October 10, 2015 6:05pm EDT
Attachments: None
Comments: None