Mike Albrecht, guitar, vocals: A math teacher in the School Distict of Philadelphia, Mike formed the Blues Astronauts in 1981 while earning a degree cum laude in Fine Arts at Yale University. For over three years in New Haven and Boston, The Astronauts wove down home blues, original ska and reggae, and punk-funk ferocity with an acute awareness of existential philosophy, aesthetic theory, world beat and popular culture. Twenty-two years later, the recorded documentation of this band is astonishing in its originality and freshness. In late '90s, Mike discovered the roots music scene at The Mermaid Inn in Northwest Philadelphia. There he met the legendary fiddler and bandleader Kitty Kelly. A romance ensued and Mike leamed to play the Irish drum (bodhran) and guitar accompaniment to the traditional dance music. Mike and Kitty married in 2001, and together, they are the nucleus of the Philadelphia Ceili Band. The ancient lrish melodies and irresistible dance beat are the preserved consciousness by an aural tradition of an ancient, indigenous people whose culture and spirit have been actively suppressed by an occupying enemy power for nearly 900 years. In discovering his Irish roots, Mike also discovered his authentic blues voice, which is rooted in the Chicago blues of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Lisa Chavous, vocals: Lisa Chavous was born and raised in Sharon Hill, in suburban Philadelphia, and she began singing in local church choirs and family gatherings at the age of five. In 1989 she began performing with the group Chapter One in banquet halls such as The Twelve Caesars and the Riviera Ballroom. In 1997 Lisa won first prize while competing in the Temple University jazz station talent contest sponsored by B&V outreach. In 1999 she began forming bands that performed for a variety of audiences. These ensembles eventually became known as Lisa Chavous and Friends. Lisa has performed with them in, restaurants, ballrooms, country clubs, and other major venues in southeastern Pennsylvania. Lisa has performed with jazz greats Byard Lancaster, Odean Pope, Trudy Pitts, Pat Martino, Jimmy McGriff and Bootsie Barnes, and is regularly backed by former members of Patti LaBelle’s band, as well as by Don Evans, former guitarist for Billy Joel. Lisa, who is a nurse, has also donated her talents at a variety of functions that benefit children’s organizations supporting research for multiple sclerosis and the anti-AIDS foundation. Lisa’s most recent concert performances have been the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival and the Palmyra, NJ County Festival and she can be frequently found at Stephen’s Prime in Media, PA. Lisa’s forte is her great versatility in singing jazz, blues, and rhythm & blues, all with tons of soul that projects her sincere love and devotion to her music and that creates powerful audience attraction and response. Pete Currie, drums, vocals: Born and raised in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, Pete Currie is a veteran of the Philadelphia rock scene. He has been playing with various established bands as well as freelancing for the last three decades. In the seventies he played with Disband, and in the eighties the Eccentrics, an original rock band that opened for such national acts as Dave Mason, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Commander Cody, and Rare Earth. The Djangos were another original outfit that had the benefit of Pete’s steady beat and sensitive touch. More recently, Pete has played with No Turn on Red, taught drums, freelanced with several different bands. As a composer and songwriter, his music has aired on WXPN. Pete’s experience and work ethic have been invaluable to the band’s development. Dave Doggett, pedal steel guitar, tenor saxophone: Dave is widely respected in the Philadelphia and Mermaid Inn music communities. In addition to the Blues Messengers, he has played with the Rockabilly outfit Gas Money, singer/songwriter Tom Gala, and the alt-country group The Broken Prayers. Dave grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the North Mississippi towns of Indianola, Oxford and Tupelo. He was trained in classical piano and church organ, but as early as junior high school he was playing sax in a rockabilly band. He later started playing folk and blues guitar and had first hand encounters with people like Fred McDowell, Jack Owens, R.L. Burnside, Son Thomas, Babe Stovall, Mose Allison, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker. While in college in Jackson, Dave became involved in the civil rights movement, and was one of the publishers of a small newspaper called The Kudzu in Jackson and New Orleans. In the ‘70s Dave lived in Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, where he learned to play bluegrass Dobro and country-rock pedal steel guitar. He was a sideman for country singer Pam Tillis at the beginning of her career. In the ‘80s and ‘90s Dave returned to school for a degree in molecular biology, started a family, and is now a medical research analyst. But he has found time to return to his Mississippi roots in blues, country music, and rockabilly, and to dip into Philly’s deep pool of jazz. Tom Gittelman, bass: A research chemist with Aqua Pennsylvania, Tom Gittelman began playing guitar as a teenager during the 60s folk revival. His interest soon progressed to rock ‘n roll and in high school he played electric bass in a band that did Motown and Top 40. In college he played rhythm guitar, harmonica, and sang lead in a rock band called Little Smoke. Later his interests turned acoustic and he played guitar and sang in several bluegrass bands in the ‘70s. Tracing his roots of bluegrass led to a focus on Old Time band called Wissahickon Drive. This quite naturally led to an interest in the Celtic roots of Southern Appalachian Music. Tom and his fiddler wife Marian are regularly seen at many Philadelphia area Irish sessions. Tom met Mike Albrecht playing bouzouki in the Philadelphia Ceili Band, and when the need arose for a blues bass player, Tom was there with fat-bottom bass lines that have helped define the Blues Messengers sound. Larry Hambrecht, harmonica, vocals: Larry Hambrecht’s father, George, was the principal flutist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; however Larry’s biggest musical influence is the harmonica work of Little Walter Jacobs. While writing poetry, art gallery reviews, and his novel, The Midnight Reviews of Professor Soho, Larry was a part of the blues scene in the East Village during the seventies in NYC. There he played with noted bluesmen Louisiana Red, Lefty Diz, Bill Dicey, and jammed with Sugar Blue in Washington Square. Larry plays the chromatic harmonica as well as blues cross harp. Larry has long been a presence at the acoustic blues scene of The Mermaid Inn in Northwest Philly. It was Larry’s initiative that brought the Messenger’s together for their first gig at Ludwig’s Garden in downtown Philadelphia. Byard Lancaster, saxophone, flutes, percussions, vocals: Known as “Philly Sax” and “Pennsylvania’s First Jazz Lobbyist” (he recently played the national anthem at a Philadelphia ‘76ers game), Byard has deep roots in the Germantown and Philadelphia jazz community. Trained at Berklee College of Music as well as on the streets and in the clubs, he at one time or another has bumped horns with Johnny Copeland, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Raahsan Roland Kirk, Sam Rivers, Memphis Slim, Herbie Mann, Michal Beckman, and many others. He has a recent association with the world funk band Funkadesi out of Chicago. Byard has played and recorded all over the world and is known from Paris to Jamaica. 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