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© 2012-2019 Deacon Productions LLC.  All rights reserved.

Bios

Steven Kikoen | Guitars/Vocals

 

Steve is the founder and creative shaman of DEACON BLUES. The genesis of The Deacons began when Steve, Jon, and Cash formed an original jazz/rock collective known as BEBOP DADDYS. The Daddys featured the renowned rhythm section of Tom Mendel (bass) and Tom Hipskind (drums). You can catch Daddys fan Donald Fagen on many a Steely Dan live-YouTube video sporting his very own Bebop Daddys Tee!  Steve additionally leads the progressive rock group MASTERWORKS, as well as the original "band within the band" - "The Deacons."  As guitarist and vocalist of Deacon Blues, Steve is also a composer, arranger, and youth choir director - having worked with Steve Howe and Jon Anderson of YES. Forthcoming projects include collaborations with friends Howard Levy, Peter Gabriel, and Paul Simon.  Ever a Beatles fan, Steve cites Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, Larry Carlton, Peter Gabriel, Steve Howe, Jon Anderson, and Carlos Santana as friends and influences.

 

Thomas Linsk | Rhodes & Acoustic Piano/Vocals

 

Thomas started playing piano at the age of seven.  His passion and talent led him to embark on a musical journey and career.  Thomas spent his early years in Las Vegas, NV, inspired and influenced by the great performers of the time.  After stints in St. Louis and Miami, he relocated to Chicago where his musical career flourished. Whether Tom is with Deacon Blues, his trio, quartet, big band or simply performing solo he is regarded as one of Chicago's finest entertainers.  Thomas has performed along with Lisa McClowry at the Redhead Piano Bar, as well as many other nightclubs in the Chicago area. In addition, Tom has not only performed at special events for Oprah Winfrey and other Chicago area celebrities but all over the United States. He has traveled from one coast to the other entertaining people for over 25 yrs. Thomas cites everyone from Donald Fagen  to Boz Skaggs to Stephen Schwartz  to Billy Joel among his influencers .

 

 

Jonathan Hey | Acoustic Piano/Synthesizer/Melodica

 

Jon is the main arranger for Deacon Blues, being the Sibelius guru that he is.  Jon is also the principal of Jon Hey Interactive, a management consulting firm. He is an award-winning educator currently at DePaul University, and has been a professional pianist for over 4 decades in the Chicago area.  Jon is also a member of the original project BEBOP DADDYS, the prog-rock collective MASTERWORKS, and one of the leaders of the Mingus Awareness Project.  Jon cites Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Parliament Funkadelic as influences.

 

 

Wally Hustin | Bass

 

Wally has the distinction of being one of the first call bassists in the city of Chicago.  He has performed and/or recorded with Dave Mason, David Benoit(, Mike Stern (Miles Davis/Brecker Bros.), Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck/Sting/Zappa), Mecca, Kenny Aronoff (Melancamp/Smashing Pumpkins/sessions), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson/Mister Mister), Dave Uhrich, Todd Sucherman (Styx/Spinal Tap), Darryl Thompson, Jim Krieger (Dave Mason), Rob Mullins (Jazz Crusaders/tv & movie sound tracks), Tony Guerrero, Phoebe Snow, Carvin Winan (The Winans), Chuchito Valdez, Joanna Rosario (Fred Hammond), St Sabina Levites, Will Kennedy (Yellowjackets), Paul Wertico (Pat Methany), and the list goes on and on!  Wally is also a member of MASTERWORKS. Wally cites Charles Mingus, Stanley Clark, Lincoln Coines, and Anthony Jackson as influences.

Chuck Webb | Bass

 

Chuck is a first call electric & acoustic bassist who has toured the world many times performing with such notable artists as Aretha Franklin, Ramsey Lewis, David Sanborn, Al DiMeola, Grover Washington Jr.,  Freddie Hubbard and many others. As one of Chicago's top studio bassists Chuck has performed on hundreds of records, commercial jingles and sound tracks. A graduate of University of Miami's Frost School of Music, Chuck is a member of the National Federation of Musicians and the National Educators Association.  A versatile writer & producer, Chuck is also on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago's music department, serving as coordinator of bass studies, bass instructor, ensemble director and coordinator of the Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music ensemble program.

Tom Hipskind | Drums

 

Tom has been playing drums for well over 30 years.  He received his undergraduate degree in jazz performance at Northern Illinois University, where he played with the NIU Jazz Ensemble and accompanied many jazz legends for three years, before doing graduate work at DePaul University and taking residence in the Chicago area.  He has performed, recorded and toured extensively with many artists, such as Howard Levy, Kenny Werner, Patricia Barber, Fred Simon, Kimo Williams’ Kimotion, Heather Headley, Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band, John Elmquist's HardArt Groop and many others.  Tom is a highly-regarded studio musician, having recorded on dozens of TV and radio commercials, film soundtracks, and record dates.  He’s also found a home in Broadway-style pit orchestras, performing on Chicago-based productions of “The Lion King”, “Shrek”, “Dirty Dancing”, "Annie" and "The Book Of Mormon".  Since 2004, Tom has been adjunct faculty in the music department at Columbia College Chicago, teaching private lessons and classes.  Tom cites Peter Erskine and Vinnie Colliauta as influences.

Ben 'Jammin' Johnson Drums

 

Ben ‘Jammin’ Johnson started playing drums at the age of three. He studied at The University of Arkansas and Roosevelt University and was featured in their marching, concert and jazz bands, and he completed his undergraduate work.  Ben is one of the busiest drummers in Chicago and beyond. He has performed and recorded with Freddy Hubbard, Nelson Rangell, Phil Perry, Jean Carne, Michael Henderson, Ray Parker Jr., Williams, and the Mongolian pop group Sweetymotion. Mr. Johnson has performed with Edgar Gabriel’s StringFusion since 2010.  In 2015, Ben has the distinguished experience to perform along wiht the klegendary Mr. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie at a Deacon Blues theatre gig.  The 2 drummers absolutely 'killed it' as they 'brought down the house' with thunderous applause, paying homage to the Becker/Fagen catalogue.

Dan Leali | Drums

 

A native of the Chicago area, Dan received a BM in Jazz Studies from DePaul University in Chicago. He has performed live or on record with such artists as jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker, songwriters Liz Phair, Jewel, Peter Himmelman and Robbie Fulks, Poi Dog Pondering, guitarist Fareed Haque, bluesmen Pinetop Perkins and John Primer, and funk/jazz group Liquid Soul, touring extensively worldwide and receiving a Grammy nomination for his performance on that band's 2000 recording, "Here's the Deal."  Dan has also been active in the recording studio, performing on commercial jingles and video game soundtracks for such products and organizations as Budweiser, Miller Lite, Golden Grahams, the U.S. Army, and WMS. He teaches privately, does school presentations and clinics, and doubles as a percussionist and programmer. Currently, Dan can also be seen and heard with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, and that Jurrasic beast of  cover bands . . . TRIBUTOSAURUS.

Kent Bredrup | Drums

 

Kent was the original drummer at the launch of DEACON BLUES. Kent is a FUNK drummer with a capital "F" - his pocket is as deep and consistent as his professionalism.  Kent also holds down the drum chair for Midnight with Harry Reinhardt, Traffic Jam, and The Niche with his talented brother Drew.  Kent cites Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, and John Bonham as influences.

 

Victor Garcia | Trumpet & Fligelhorn

 

Victor is a first call trumpet and flugelhorn player in Chicago.  By the time he left for college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Victor had begun playing with various Latin bands, including Ricky Luis (singer of N’Klabe of Universal Records), Angel Melendez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra, Johnny Rodriguez’s Latin Inspiration, and Papo Santiago & Infraverde. While at UIUC, Garcia studied with classical luminaries Ron Romm of the Canadian Brass, the late, great Dr. Michael Ewald and with jazz saxophone master Ron Bridgewater. He subsequently transferred to Northern Illinois University due to an increasingly busy schedule in Chicago. There he studied with Dr. Mark Ponzo and jazz trumpet master Art Davis.  Victor cites his professors at the U of I/Champagne-Urbana as tremendous mentors.

 

Cash Michaels | Saxophone

 

Cash is an extraordinary sax player with chops and tone reminiscent of Wayne Shorter.  He regularly appears as soloist with Jeannie Tanner, The Real Gone, The Derrick Stout Orchestra, The Rolling Clones, Linda and the Cosmopolitans, and his own group, The Cash Michaels Jazz Continuum.  Mr. Michaels is also a member of the original project BEBOP DADDYS and the prog-rock collective MASTERWORKS.  Cash cites Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods, Michael Brecker and Joshua Redman as influences.

 

 

 

Henry Salgado | Trombone

 

Trombonist Henry Salgado established himself on the Chicago scene while working on his Jazz Studies degree at DePaul University. He began subbing in the pit orchestras of the Goodman Theatre,Marriott Lincolnshire and the Drury Lane Oakbrook.  Salgado has also performed with many top entertainers including Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin, Sister Sledge,Frankie Valli, Kurt Elling, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, Rita Moreno, Della Reese and the Doc Severinsen Orchestra. As a studio musician Henry has recorded over 100 Radio & TV commercials and has playing credits on these original movie soundtracks; Big Night, Imposters, Secret Lives of Dentists and Hamlet directed by Cambell Scott. More info on IMDB.COM. Henry Salgado is currently a member of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded on its debut CD "Collective Creativity".

 

 

Rich Lapka | Trombone

 

Rich Lapka is a native of Chicago who has played in many bands over the years. After graduating from Northern Illinois University where he played lead trombone in the acclaimed NIU Jazz Ensemble, he formed the Jazz Fusion group Juggular. From 1979-1991 Juggular played throughout the Midwest at clubs and festivals and their 1980 record Balls was played around the country and is currently available on iTunes. Rich has also played with the Pete Special Band, The Deja Vu Big Band, Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners Big Band, the Pocket Fisherman and many other Chicago bands. Currently , besides having a blast playing in Contrabanda, Rich plays with the Jazz Consortium Big Band and the Reunion Jazz Orchestra.

 

 

Candice Marie | Vocals

 

This fiery R&B vocal powerhouse will blow you away with her range and contemporary finesse. Bridging the decades with a rich soulfulness that is modern and timeless, Candice channels Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and Aretha Franklin. Candice is the winner of the 2011 Budweiser Superfest Vocal Competition and her hit single “I Wanna Go” recently made its national debut on Chicago’s V103. She has opened for a variety of artists such as Jill Scott, R. Kelly, Josh Groban and Chico DeBarge. Candice is currently in production on her first solo album.

 

 

Suzanne Cross | Vocals

 

Suzanne’s voice is a powerhouse, often compared to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders.  Able to sing in a huge variety of styles, she also sang with the Chicago Symphony Chorus for four seasons.  A music therapist by day (and Steely Dan fan at night!) - Suzanne is equally at home singing lead or harmonizing with “the girls!”  Ever a Tony Levin fan, Suzanne cites Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, Peter Gabriel, Chrissie Hynde, K.D.Lang, Chaka Khan, and Kiri Tekanawa as influences.

 

 

 

Taylor Yacktman | Vocals

 

As a follow up to her recently released EP “Dare You To Love Me,” Sashé has recently completed a 6-week tour promoting her new CD, including and extended stay in China.  Many successful and sold-out shows later, she is currently working with Grammy nominated producer ‘Oh Hush.”  Sashé has been featured in a T-Mobile Commercial, as principal dancer in the feature film (and Bollywood hit) Dhoom 3, appeared on several television series including Chicago Fire, Underemployed, and Mob Doctor, and has been has featured in the films Grand Piano and Johnson.  Sashé has hosted a web series called My LiveTicket where she would go behind-the-scenes with bands as they shoot their concerts live.  Sashé cites Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Hall & Oates, and Elvis Presley as influences.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Hall | Vocals

 

Jennifer is a phenomenal Chicago songstress.  And a tremendous singer as well.  The Jennifer Hall band is actively releasing original material and is consistemnly touring the united States, including gigs in Hawaii.  Welcome Jennifer - our newest 'Deacon.'