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Band Biographies
Eric Safka

Eric Safka
Keyboards

A 14 year veteran Keyboard Player, Eric Safka, is the "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" of the band. His "mad man" antics on stage do not reflect the same personality as the humble person he is off stage. Just watch him when he is approached by an enthusiastic fan after a show, he blushes and always seems to reference the famous Garth Algar line "Thanks... I like to play". After watching him live, there is no doubt about the truth of that statement. It's never been about money or fame for Eric, but about the experience of communicating with the audience and his band on a level that words could never do justice... and communicate he does, with all the intensity and enthusiasm of a man possessed by the love of his craft.

Formerly of the rock group Days Awake, Eric has shared the stage with notable artists such as Dickey Betts, Rich Robinson, Blues Traveler, as well having performed on projects with Jon Bon Jovi, the E-Streets Band's Gary Tallent and Living Colour's Vernon Reed. Tom Marshall of Phish fame once stated that Eric was "One of the best keyboard players he has ever seen".

To Eric, none of this really matters in comparison to what he considers his greatest success, which is simply being able to share in those magical live moments with his band and the crowd. His hope is to inject into people the same inspiration that bit him fourteen years ago at his first concert and has led him to building his entire life around the idea that he "likes to play".

Birth Date: February 5

Eric's Equipment: Hammond B-3, Hammond Model A, Leslie 122, Leslie 145, Rhodes 73 Custom, Hohner Clavinet/Pianet Duo, Wurlitzer Model 140 B, Wurlitzer 200 A, Moog Little Phatty Analog Sythesizer.

Scott Bennert

Scott Bennert
Bass Guitar

After toying with the saxophone, keyboards, and guitar, Scott discovered the bass guitar at the age of 23. With his new starter bass and two free lessons, he was instantly consumed by the possibilities of music and the bass guitar. Scott would come home from college on the weekends, absorb as much information as possible from his bass teacher, and return to campus to work on his lessons. The hard work would soon pay off when, after only one year, Scott would land his first paying bass gig - filling in for Matt O'Ree and the Blueshounds! "The gig was 1/2-mile from my house. I drank for free and was paid 100 bucks. Not to mention it felt as though I was on stage with this Stevie Ray Vaughn/Hendrix mutant. It rocked! I was hooked!"

Matt put another call in to Scott and offered him a long-term gig while his regular bassist was away at school. Scott, however, was beginning a new musical project - a trio band that would soon become Big Baby Ernie - a six-piece R&B/Groove band. Highly regarded as one of the best bands of the local music scene, BBE took its original music and cover band show up and down the East Coast, as well as across the Atlantic for four successful UK tours. During his 12-year tenure as BBE's bassist, Scott continued his musical education and personal musical growth. He quit a full-time teaching job to pursue a music performance degree at the renowned Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, studying Jazz Performance on the double bass. "The early years of BBE, as well as my time at Mason Gross, were my formative years in music. At school, the music seeped into your pours from the practice rooms. And the disparity of musical taste in BBE is immense. I listened to everything: Motown, classic rock, Jazz, hip-hop, rap, classical, prog rock, metal, hard core - everything!"

The influences began to blend. Scott's love of the freedom of jazz, the groove of R&B, and the adrenaline of rock 'n' roll started to fuse. It was then when he saw a Matt O'Ree Band show, fresh off of Matt's crowning as the Guitarmageddon "King of the Blues" winner. "I can't explain it. I looked up on stage and listened. Then I said, 'I should be in this band.' That was it." Scott and Matt began going to each other's shows, sitting in with their respective bands, testing the waters and the attitudes. They decided that the only way they will know if Scott was the right bass player, was to go to a studio and jam. And so they did.

Scott's gear: Sadowsky UV70 MB-4 Ash Natural bass, Ampeg SVT-810AV, Ampeg SVT-410HE, Ampeg SVT-VR, Ampeg SVT-CL, George L's cables.

John Hummel

John Hummel
Drums

John started playing the drums at age 10, after his best friend turned him on to an old KISS record, and finding a broken down toy drum set, which was left on the curb for the garbage man. After banging on that for a few weeks, he started drum lessons. Then, seeing that he was serious about it, his parents got him a real set of drums for Christmas. It wasn't long before he realized that playing music was what he wanted to do with his life. At age 11 he was playing in his first rock band.

John has been gigging and doing session work in NY/NJ for many years, and has toured throughout the US and Europe with various bands. Some of the more notable artists and bands he has worked with are: Amfibian (Tom Marshall), Anthony Krizan (Spin Doctors), Neal Casal (Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), John Ginty (Citizen Cope), CC Coletti (Meatloaf) and Lady Gaga.

John's gear: Ludwig Drums, Paiste 2002 cymbals.

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