Gritty blues turns pop rock
A new band. A new sound. A new experience. Bitterroot Band.
We’re all about original music. Genera melding, category busting, Bitterroot’s originals are fresh — a mix of blues, jazz, pop, and rock with a dash of country.
It started over a decade ago. Steve Hausheer, known as Stevo in his international travels, started writing songs and playing to the wall in his room, initially satisfied to create something. Steve then started collaborating with Ken Lewis, and penned several songs. Steve also worked with Curt Powell to bring back several originals they wrote a decade earlier in their originals band “Horsepower.”
Steve’s first band, “Third Coast Wave,” included guitarists Tom Stanton and Hugh Fritz and Kevin McDermott on bass. Mark Bryzinski added in on vocals and percussion. The band performed for a few years, then morphed, changing out keyboard to Dan Fischer, bass to Gerry Cleary, Gary Petersen on guitar and adding Ej oh harp.
The Bitterroot Band name was introduced thanks to Gerry’s suggestion. Steve and Ej collaborated on writing several songs, a great lyrist and harp player. Spencer Bloom added his drumming skills to the mix. Dan Fischer really shaped the songs, arranging and further refining/rewriting what was never written. Gary helped Steve shape the songs further, and wrote two songs together.
We often played with Kent Lewis, Sunday afternoons on the patio at Hanson Brothers — we were jokingly referred to as Grilled Veggies at one point after Ej added to Hanson’s grill menu. We worked with several great guitarists, including Jason Dotson, and Gary Petersen.
Along the way, Steve met Jimy Rogers, Chicago’s Prince of Blue Eyed Soul, taking vocal lessons and learning the fine art of how to sing and entertain. Steve and Jimy formed the concept for “The JR Project,” with Danny Yohanna on drums, Will Wiegler on bass, Gary Petersen on guitar, Dan Fischer on keys and Scott VanWagner on sax. We never made it out on stage as Jimy grew ill and quickly succumb to cancer. The guys thought it best to continue on together and performed three of their originals at Jimy’s memorial tribute concert at Reggies main stage in Chicago.
Bitterroot Band was then formed with Greg Thelin stepping in on drums, Gerry Cleary coming in on bass and Tim Moran joining in on guitar. The group performed at The Alley in March 2012 playing the whole original catalog, many for the first time in public. The Trailers opened, Bitterroot played a set and then several of us then Joined Kent Lewis for the final set.
Bitterroot then took a time out when Stevo hit the road, traveling to China for the summer. Steve formed a band there, earning his new Chinese name Stevo and played several gigs together as The Tonics. Upon Stevo’s return, The band morphed again, with Joel Treadwell coming in on drums. As life happens, Josh Stokes expected to pass thru Chicago on his cross country bike trek, but stayed, and now brings his expressive violin to the band.
Josh and Stevo went to an open mike and instead of jamming as expected, were invited to compete in the The Underground Wonderbar Talent Search Contest. They first played as The Bitterroot Brothers, then came back the next week as Bitterroot Boyz and qualified, giving The Botterroot Band a chance at the grand prize. The band reformed for the finals: Steve Nevets came in on bass, joining back with Joel – reforming the hottest rhythm section in Chicago. David Keeshin took over keyboards, adding his amazing arrangement skills to the mix. Christian Larumbe agreed to add his wonderful guitar and voice, adding another stellar musician. And Scotty continued contributing his sweet sax.
Bitterroot Band won that finals competition and continues on today with just a little more confidence in our songs, in our musicianship, and most of all, our show.