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Madison Music Project -- The Bob Westfall Band

Credit:The Bob Westfall Band

Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is The Bob Westfall Band.

Making the Angelic Brewery their Tuesday night home for the better part of a decade, The Bob Westfall Band has endured through at least two life cycles of Madison's music scene that turns over every quadrennial. Describing itself as jazzgrass, the band creates an upbeat sound with a recipe of jazz and bluegrass (of course), along with folk, swing, latin "and other kitchen sink items." The mandolin, guitars, violin, bass and percussion serve as the tools for the veteran musicians that make up the group.

More details are available in the band's full bio:

Bob Westfall (guitar, mandolin, vocals, songwriting) has studied and worked with some of the top acoustic players in the country -- Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, John Hartford, and Alex DeGrassi. But, while these influences are certainly evident, Westfall's songwriting and lyrics are uniquely his own. An award-winning mandolinist, Bob grew up in Texas and Minnesota, and his style incorporates the best elements of storytelling with a hybrid jazz/pop/worldbeat/bluegrass feel.

The husband and wife team of Mary Gaines (bass) and Chris Wagoner (violin) provide the bottom and top of the BWB sound, and have appeared in performance and on recordings with Westfall for over fifteen years. Gaines and Wagoner have similarly diverse backgrounds -- formal classical training at the Univ. of WI, jazz studies with the great bassist, Richard Davis, followed by years of performing and recording with jazz, blues, rock, and folk artists and songwriters.

Tom Ellis (Latin percussion kit) rounds out the groove of the BWB with his flair for Latin feels, and extensive background in jazz and rock. Ellis has been a Midwest touring musician for almost three decades with The Dave Kinney Group, Little Vito and the Torpedoes, and Luck of the Draw.

Together, The Bob Westfall Band creates a style of music that defies a single description yet connects with the listener on many levels.

Bob Westfall is a songwriter and instrumentalist who also has worked as a producer, booking agent, and teacher in the course of his musical career. Starting with writing songs as a child and focusing on music for more than a quarter-century, he has recorded three of his own releases -- In a Heartbeat (1998), Lover's Dance (1994), and The Third Coast (1984) -- along with production and backing work on many other recordings, from soundtracks to commercial jingles. Alongside recording, Westfall has also won at the national Winfield Mandolin Championship and the Rocky Mountain Mandolin Championships. He has also recorded with local songwriter Ken Lonnquist, with some of those songs appearing on the latter's 2006 release Earthy Songs. Westfall also worked with Lonnquist on the winter holiday tale Old Belfana before kicking things off at the Angelic.

This spring, the band's song "Chipolte" was nominated for Best World Song in the 2006 edition of the Madison Area Music Awards. That song and two others ("Today" and "Therapist") are available at the band's Broadjam artist profile, with more audio, photos, and other details to be found at its Sonicbirds profile.

The Bob Westfall Band plays club gigs throughout southern Wisconsin, as well as a variety of summertime festivals. They're best known for their tenure at the Angelic, though, where they play mostly original material alongside a few swing and Latin standards and traditional ditties. Their next appearance there is this Tuesday, Nov. 28, with four more following to round out the year.

This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.

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