Abbey Rodeo… the Band Bio
Somewhere around 1999 or 2000, Chris Butcher ran into Fred Grupe. They had known each other previous to this run-in… both were musicians between gigs and so they began to try some songwriting and recording together. They enjoyed the process so much that they soon began asking other musicians to join in on the project which came to be called the "Abbey Rodeo Project". A number of choice musicians became involved.
A certain amount of recording was completed on a number of Butcher and Grupe penned songs over a period of time. Enough for a complete CD. But they had been discussing the possibility of forming a live performing group or troupe to provide a variety show complete with opening acts and a headliner band. All using musicians from the troupe in support of the songs that they were writing and recording. Fred was to serve as the troupe’s producer and manager. Chris would be the lead singer and co-producer.
As in real life, some things happened sort of that way and some were very different from what they originally planned. For one thing Fred started playing the bass guitar again at recording sessions and jam sessions after years of not playing at all! Fred then started attending and playing at open mic and jam nights at local clubs. He began to encourage Chris to come out and play at some of these gigs. Chris started playing and getting good responses to the songs that he and Fred performed. Numerous other musicians were also performing at these shows, many of whom were already involved in the Abbey Rodeo Project… including Verne McClelland, Bob Yocum, Debbie Daniels, P.J. Philips and Justin Butcher. It was Verne (singer/guitarist) who suggested they make it an official band. Fred and Chris thought it was a great idea and saw the possibility to fulfill their original vision, in many ways, with the great potential of the musicians who ultimately became Abbey Rodeo, “the band". Bob Yocum came to the band, followed by Debbie Daniels, bringing multitudes of instrumentation possibilities to the band. Justin Butcher, Chris’ son, became the drummer and vocalist. He's also a bass guitarist and eventually left the band to pursue other musical endeavers. Bob “Chick” Chiacone came on board in 2005 to replace Justin and Vince Lesso replaced Bob on drums and vocals in 2006. Keyboardist and banjo player, Debbie Daniels left the band in 2010. Pat Shelby took over piano and keyboard duties as well as singing, also in 2010. In 2014, P.J. Philips took over on the keys and vocals and then Jim Bonfanti on drums and vocals in 2015. Abbey Rodeo played their first gig on May 20, 2003 at the Flying Burrito Cantina in Madison, Ohio and continue to this day.
The The North Coast Voice Magazine was and remains instrumental in promoting and supporting Abbey Rodeo. Abbey Rodeo also supports and appreciates the efforts of the Voice in recognizing and promoting the local music scene in Northeast Ohio.
Abbey Rodeo’s Mission is…
… To play the music that we and our audiences love… both covers of great songs that people know, along with new and original music. Our philosophy is that we have to enjoy the music first so that we can present it honestly. Our commitment to the music is what the audience hears and sees at a live show.
… To perform a wide variety of song selections of varied, yet compatible styles, with well-blended vocal harmonies, diverse instrumentation and arrangements and pleasant, yet dynamic listening levels provided by a professional sound company hired by us for all of our shows. These have been and remain as successful components of our band.
… To have fun playing for our audiences and be appreciative of the support of our friends and fans.
Biographies of the band members...
and the band...
CLICK on a picture for individual
band member bio
Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Fiddle/Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals