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George
Staerkel
Musical
Director
& Producer

George played his first professional gig at age 10 as an organist with the Esquire Trio, giving him more than 5 decades of professional experience. After attending Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in the early 70’s, he spent many years on the road, most notably serving as lead vocalist, keyboardist and instrumentalist with the world famous “Tokens” (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) from 1980 – 1985. Hailing originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, he made Arizona his home in the year 2000 where he has been thrilling audiences ever since. George has produced an exciting musical experience that showcases the talents of the famous ‘Rhythm Cats’. George brings to the stage a five octave + vocal range and expertise with any style of music. He will amaze you with over 50 different instruments including the celebrity horns of Doc Severinsen, Boots Randolph, Herb Alpert, Al Hirt, Tex Beneke, Pete Fountain and Maynard Ferguson among others. His instrument collection also includes many “one of a kind “ instruments (like the world’s only “Bathorn”) and the world’s largest and smallest saxophones – the Contra-Bass and Piccolo Saxes, just to name a few. Truly a master musician.

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Chris
Kennison
Steel Guitar
& Utility Strings
Specialist

Chris has been performing professionally for 40 years. He displays his talents with performances on pedal steel guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, ukulele and Hawaiian lap steel. He performs in Arizona, Hawaii and Colorado. Chris has performed on radio, on TV, and has worked with the Ft. Collins Symphony, Doug Kershaw, Dan Seals, and at most major venues in and around Northern Colorado. He also leads a Hawaiian swing band called “Book – Em Danno“ whose recordings have been featured on the Hawaii – 50 television show. Chris is also an Audio Recording/Engineer and for 25 years has owned and operated a commercial recording studio in Fort Collins, Colorado. His love of steel and Hawaiian music has led him to serve on the Board of Directors for the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association where he helps raise money for scholarships for young musicians learning steel, and he produces concerts and conventions showcasing international steel players.

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Jeff
Stephens
Guitar, Bass,
Keyboards
& Vocals

As a product of the “babyboomer” generation, his passion for music was greatly influenced by the Beatles in 1964. Jeff grew out his hair, rebelled against authority and bought a guitar. Mastering the bass guitar, he began his music career with the St. Louis band “Children” in 1976. After almost 20 years as a musician, who had played with countless bands and traveled the U.S. – Jeff decided to settle in Arizona. For the past 25 years, Arizona has had the benefit of Jeff’s musical talents and after all those years he’s still playing his guitar and having fun! Jeff will tell you “I consider myself a lucky man.” We are lucky too – cause he’s a Rhythm Cat! His musical abilities have become obvious to our audiences. An average show will find him making the rounds from acoustic and electric guitar to bass to keyboards to ukulele to vocals and more. Truly a talented and versatile pro!

Steve-head-shot

Steve
Weitz
Bass Guitar, Horns
and the Fabulous
“Willie”

“Steve Weitz has been seriously injured in a traffic accident in Colorado. His recovery is projected to take many months so won’t be joining us for the 2017/2018 season. You may send well wishes to Steve at SteveWeitz@hotmail.com or send Facebook Friend Request to: https://www.facebook.com/steve.weitz.9 We are all looking forward to Steve’s recovery and return to Silver Star and The Rhythm Cats Band”.

From Cripple Creek, Colorado the son of a High School Band Director, Steve grew up in a musical family. Inspired by his older brothers (who had a rock and roll band) and the Beatles, Steve pursued music. He was the student conductor and recipient of the John Phillip Sousa Award in high school and earned his degree in music education from the University of Southern Colorado. Steve toured with dance bands during the 70’s, then moved to Arizona where he played with “Cosmo Topper”, “Prairie Rose” and other notable bands. During this time period Steve appeared in a major motion picture with Sally Fields and James Garner, “Murphy’s Romance.” He can play a variety of brass and woodwind instruments including: trumpet, trombone, mellophone, tuba, saxophones and clarinet. He is the primary bass player for the Rhythm Cats, playing both electric and upright electric basses. Steve has a very versatile voice and is well known in Arizona and Colorado for his Willie Nelson impersonation, he also does a great job on Johnny Cash and many other classic country artists.

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Mark
Lucas
Guitar, Vocals,
Comedian &
Co-Producer

Originally from Houston, Texas. Mark Lucas has been a full time Arizonian for over 25 years. Mark is not only one of the most talented vocalists and guitarists (with a degree in classical guitar), but will surprise you and keep you laughing with his hilarious comedy routines. His soulful roots come through in every song he sings or plays whether its Classic Country or Rock & Roll. For many years you could find Mark entertaining visitors at Tortilla Flat on Canyon Lake leading the ‘Tortilla Flat Band’ during the afternoons. He is now focusing his efforts on “The Rhythm Cats” and the shows he helps co-produce here at the Silver Star Theater. The “Mark Lucas and the Wild Bunch” show will also feature original material Mark his written throughout his career. You’ll enjoy the many talented sides of Mark Lucas.

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Michael Gerry
Bass guitar and String Bass

Born and raised in Chicago, Michael studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and graduated from Indiana University as a woodwind major, but was equally involved playing bass guitar and string bass. You’ve heard Michael’s bass playing for years, even though you didn’t know it was him playing on commercials for major airlines, Coors, McDonalds, Sears and hundreds of other clients. With a background playing all styles of music, he backed up every major act and show performing in the Midwest and became a popular choice in the recording industry and recorded more than 1,000 commercials, movie scores, HBO Specials and record dates. Michael started traveling with top concert entertainers and shows in 1987, and was on the road continuously until 2007. He was honored to be “hand picked” by Andrew Lloyd Webber to tour with his American concert tour. During his 20 years traveling, he also played with Broadway shows including CATS, Phantom of the Opera and the International Tour of Les Miserable.

Rick-head-shot

Ed
Cini
Drums
and
Percussion

Ed was born in New York and started drumming at age 11 with the Sea Cadets Drum and Bugle Corp. His family moved to Arizona when he was 13 and he started playing professionally in restaurants, dance clubs and resort hotels at 17. He has performed throughout Arizona for the past 30 years and opened for Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed, Gene Watson, Asleep at the Wheel, Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie, Kentucky Head Hunters, Mark Wills, Little Texas, Steve Wariner, Eddy Raven, Dixie Chicks, Black Hawk, Aaron Tippin, Susie Bogguss, Sawyer Brown, Trace Atkins, Chris LeDoux, and Aaron Watson. Ed has also played shows with Hank Thomson, and worked with song writer Dale Noe. In the mid 90’s he backed up Toby Kieth and others at the grand re-opening of the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix and recently backed up Lynn Anderson and opened for outlaw song writer Billy Joe Shaver.