In response to the WAMI phone call about being nominated for Wisconsin’s Best Bluegrass Band, Mud River Lee says ‘ Wow!’ The Wisconsin Area Music Industry nominated Mud River Lee for a Folk award back in the 80’s but this time around, the band has evolved to the current ‘Mud River Lee & The Bluegrass Orchestra’ recently, after being ‘The Bluegrass Three’ for a number of years.
Lee Modder, better known as Mud River Lee, credits WAMI as being the reason his music and band evolved. ‘I went to a fancy WAMI CD Roulette competition held on the 28th floor of a Penthouse, overlooking Lake Michigan, unbeknownst to me then, arranged by our Vocalist/Percussionist Barbara, for WAMI, back when she had some pull in real estate, in Milwaukee, before the crash, and that is where we met.’
He goes on, ‘I was not necessarily looking for more bandmates, but was intrigued to be there, as always, by the excitement at the WAMI CD Roulette’s, where they have Music Leaders critiqueing the local band’s new CD’s…and one always hears a nice variety, and you get to know what your fellow musicians are up to. So that is when I ran into Barbara, who had been professionally trained as a vocalist in San Fran area, by Annabelle Cruz of Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks and Pure Honey’s Alicia and Danny Daniels, and had not found any real new music friends, since her return to Wisconsin, to work out tunes with, besides Vic Thomas, another percussionist, of course. I found out that when you get Barbara to jam with, she is loyal, and looks to make music with only sincere non-egotistical people, so she brings with her music pals too. So that was a plus, and who doesn’t know and like Vic?’
Mud River Lee said he had been booked by Vic Thomas in the past, but the bookings had changed in the style of music he books at Summerfest, so Mud River Lee had lost touch with that music connection, although always fond of one another, on a personal level. When Lee met Barbara that day, he felt that she would be a nice addition, based on her bright energy and busineses focus, no matter how she sounded, but lucky for him, he was right on the money, with her music ability and knowledge, he quipped.
When asked if nominated because of his connection with booking ‘mainstay’ Vic, he says, ‘Well, I don’t think so, since Vic is a seasonal player with the Band, but of course, on a musical level, maybe, because Vic really adds alot as a musician. He downplays his ability, but when you take Bluegrass, and the bass-guitar- banjo rythym, and add another beat, it almost loses it’s Bluegrass purists following, but picks up a folllowing that is more centrical and well rounded, drawing from a larger pool of listeners attracted to the music, because now we can sound ‘Island’ and even get ‘Electronica’ with Vic’s talents. I can see that now, our amounts of bookings have increased, since I added Barbara and then Vic, but of course, it never hurts to add attractive ladies either, we also have added Sherry Dobson as well, although at first I lost a decent banjo and mando guy, and viola player too, when I added Barbara, but then I picked up additional players then too. So it was a trade off, and I was surprised when they left, but it was for the better I guess, and we are all still friends and associates.’
Whether it is the music or the people that have created The Mud River Lee and The Bluegrass Orchestra’s sensation, Mud River Lee & The Bluegrass Orchestra hope that Wisconsinites go to Wamimusic.com and click on the word VOTE, and write in Mud River Lee Band, because they are up against some pretty stern competition, and want to win The People’s choice award, even if they do not win ‘ The Best Bluegrass Band’ award.
On the competitive nature of things, in the business, in a town filled with Music lovers, one can appreciate the hybrid of music and musicians coming to gether to create a unique sound, which Mud River Lee’s violin player, John Losiniecki uniquely calls ‘Blurrrgrass’ on a take off about Wisconsin’s weather. Good luck Mud River Lee and the whole bunch found in Mud River Lee’s The Bluegrass Orchestra.
The MRLBGO line-up is:
‘Musky’ Mike Greylak- Banjo
Wilson Brown or Jennifer Pendur- Bassfiddle
Andrew Lee(Mud River Lee) Modder- Rythym Guitar and Vocals
Barbara Meyer-Spidell- Vocals and Special Effects
George ‘Geo Harp’ Bauer – Diatonic Harp
‘Doc’ Pfaff- Chromatic Harp
Sherry Dobson- Vocals
‘Elusive’ Victor ‘Puhlease’ Thomas- Trap Set & Mallet Kat
Dan Mullen or Phil Schwinn – Mandolin
John Losiniecki- Fiddle