{ bluegrass }

Kathleen Everingham is a multi-instrumentalist who has fiddled in various bands and for local and regional contra dances for decades, inspiring and instructing several current CU fiddlers and others who have migrated away from the CU area. Her soul flows through her fingers. Extraordinary harmonist. Retired Graphic Artist.

Rebecca Grosser has sung and played in several groups over the years; her voice is poetry and her rock-steady rhythm guitar helps propel contra dancers through intricate figures and keeps the band in sync. A skillful and sensitive song interpreter. Day job: Parkland College Graphic Artist.

Jose Agusti has performed with many different bands on a variety of instruments. His multi-instrumental prowess and stylistic versatility on guitar, octave mandolin, mandolin, and mouth harp, provides great accent, color, and momentum. Retired U of I Student Counselor.

Drew Phillips is an adept fiddler as well as the band's primary mandolinist and procurer of bizarre, playful, quirky tunes, and incredibly wordy songs. Also a song and tune historian. Day job: Geologist, Illinois State Geological Survey. Grew up in NY state.

Todd Kinney is the band's Terra Firma, musically and otherwise. A gifted bassist (who also plays guitar), his contemplative perceptions of arrangements, tempos, and the band's overall sound are invaluable, as are his patience and sense of humor. Singing is not in his contract. Day job: Computer Configuration Specialist.

Big Bluestem Emeritus Members
Tom D’Avello, a founding member of BBsb was it’s banjoist from 2009 to 2011, when his job as software designer for CERL transferred him to W. Virginia. Tom is the banjo player on Big Bluestem’s first CD album: “Under The Prairie Moon.”

Randy Cordle is a Midwestern Renaissance Man who has performed with several groups, including Big Bluestem from 2011 to 2013, when an injury forced his retirement. He's also a talented song & tune composer, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, and an instrument builder. Long-retired CU Sanitary District Maintenance Technician, he recently converted to Gentleman Chicken Farmer. Randy’s banjo and mandolin playing can be heard on big Bluestem’s 2nd CD: BBsb Contra-Culture
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The Yellowjacket Stringband is from Urbana Illinois and includes Kate Fritz on fiddle and banjo, Claire Johnson on fiddle, and Tom Turino on guitar, banjo, and accordion. Come hear what all the buzz is about and enjoy an eclectic mix of old-time, blues, Irish, and Cape Breton tunes!
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The Yellow Jackets play regularly at C-U venues like Buvons, Chmapaign and Urbana libraries, and the Iron Post as well as for local and midwest regional contra dances. Air Jordan 1

Kate Fritz is a multi-instrumentalist (fiddle, banjo, guitar) currently living in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Her music draws direct inspiration from living Scottish, Irish, Cape Breton, and American old time music traditions.

She grew up in the roots music scene of the Bay Area under the auspices of the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers Club, directed by master fiddler Alasdair Fraser. As a teenager Kate went to Alasdair’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle school, where she was taught by Liz Carroll, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Martin Hayes, Steve Baughman and many others who continue to be great influences on her style. Kate got a degree from NYU’s Gallatin School in China studies, environmental policy and political philosophy. She lived cumulatively for two years in Asia, mostly in Kunming “city of eternal spring” in China’s sublime Yunnan Province. She travels annually as resident fiddler for the Gesundheit Institute’s humanitarian clown trip to Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia.

Upon moving to Champaign-Urbana, the Champaign County News Gazette dubbed Kate a “local fiddling sensation”, a moniker which has stuck like gum to the underside of a picnic table. In 2012 Kate gave performances at Mocktober Fest and Mercury Portal in Tucson, AZ, the Postock music festival in Wisconsin, and opened for super-star fiddle player April Verch at the CU Folk and Roots Festival.

In addition to playing solo, Kate plays regularly with the Yellow Jacket String Band. The group features Claire Johnson (5-string fiddle, vocals), Tom Turino (guitar, steel guitar, banjo, vocals, yodel) and Kate. YJSB started out playing for Midwest regional contra dances, and has recently broadened its repertoire for club shows that include Kate singing and playing finger style guitar in addition to playing 4 and 5 string fiddles and claw hammer banjo. YJSB made a debut Midwest contra tour in fall 2012 that included appearances in Urbana, Chicago, Indianapolis, Bloomington IN, and Cincinnati.
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