Cheryl Ordower grew up on R&B, jazz, and gospel music. She was exposed to some of the greatest artists through her father’s Emmy-award winning television show, Jubilee Showcase. She learned when you have something to sing – sing it with soul. One day someone said to her, “Honey, you need to be singing the blues!” With the help of Bigelow Johnson and other blues musicians, it became a reality. Cheryl has been performing regularly at Buddy Guy’s Legends. She has also sung with gospel and classical choirs, as well as given solo performances in jazz at such places as Sherwood Conservatory of Music, Katerina’s, and Davenport’s.
Cheryl has done professional voice-overs, acted as master of ceremonies for political events, movie premiers and hosted an informational radio show serving the blind and visually impaired reaching an audience of 50,000. Cheryl’s acting and singing training helped launch the first pronunciation class at Literacy Chicago which promotes education for adults and an international division for English as a second language. Cheryl received the Starlight Award for outstanding achievement and commitment to literacy.
Bigelow Johnson’s role as Cheryl’s hollow-body man represents not so much a midlife crisis as it does a second… or third… or fourth… childhood. A geologist, an accountant, and a writer, the guy clearly can’t figure out what he wants to do. In his spare time, Bigelow doesn’t knit. He won’t eat eel. He has a phobic response to Birkenstocks. After a twenty-year hiatus, he’s rediscovered TV. He’s a bon vivant, but does enjoy bar food. Especially those big jars of Penrose Sausages. What the hell ever happened to those things?
Bass-player Mark Wagner was born on the South Side, was raised on the South Side and still lives on the South Side. He’s a teacher by day and a bluesman by night. This week-end warrior of the low notes loves to lay down a groove and watch the people move. So make Mark happy. Come. Listen. And move.
While serving a prison sentence for poaching (turbot), Joliet Jim met legendary drummer & chef de cuisine Blind Lemon-Lime Three Finger Satchmo Little Howlin' Sonny Boy Krupa. It was Lime, as he liked to be called, who taught Jim the single stroke roll, the paradiddle, and how to reconstitute Hollandaise sauce that separated when Jim turned the heat up too high making Eggs Benedict at the Sunday prison brunch. Out on parole, Joliet Jim was recently notified that he is a "person of interest" in an unsolved case involving salmon.
Day Job: Lawyer
Night Job: Melter of faces.
Mike’s an attorney, specializing in insurance defense of injury cases. (We’re not sure what that means, but Joliet Jim has quit accidentally-on-purpose falling off stages.) Before graduating law school (IIT/Kent) in 1983, Mike studied psychology at U of I in Champaign, then did a stint as a bailiff/deputy sheriff (hence, that badass attitude…). He’s married (number two) to his high-school sweetheart (okay, now that’s really sweet!), with whom he lives in the deep 'burbs. Over the years, Mike’s made four micro Kilgallons, none of whom are now so micro. He’s a Bears and Cubs fan, and he brings twenty years of lightin’ up the fretboards to his role as Cheryl’s Stratslinger.
Tom Lisy was born in the remote fishing village of Cleveland, Ohio and moved to the western suburbs of Chicago at a tender age. In his early teens he began taking the El to the Chicago Loop for piano lessons, sparking a life-long (so far, at least) love for jazz and blues piano. He also became immensely popular with the rest of his all-boy freshman high-school class by regularly returning with soft core porn mags that he bought from downtown newsstands. Moving to the Northside neighborhood of Rogers Park to attend Loyola, Tom discovered* the Lincoln Avenue bar scene, finding there local musical greats like Sunnyland Slim, Odie Payne, Blind John Davis, S.P. Leary, and blues and boogie master Erwin Helfer. Tom still lives in Rogers Park with his (definitely) better half, Sarah, and and continues to study piano and organ under Phil Baron, keyboard man for James Cotton, Otis Rush, and Sugar Blue, among others.**
*Literally. These bars were uncharted before Tom, compass open, walking stick in hand, solar topee canted at a rakish angle, first espied them.
** All this while maintaining his passion for rough, urban orienteering. Only last year, Tom uncovered a hitherto unknown segment of the Blue LIne.