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About the Kings of Crownsville

               Click on a band member to view complete bios.

". . . he bought his first guitar at 13,
then wrote his first song at 14."
Steve Johnson - Vocals, Guitar

Started school in New Orleans and summered at his grandmother’s house outside of Memphis. His Uncle Royce listened to Hank Williams and “come to think of it, kind of looked like him, too,” he says. There was jazz music in the house, everything from Louis Armstrong to Louis Prima. In the car there was Elvis on the radio.

Steve’s family moved to New York State, and he bought his first guitar at 13, then wrote his first song at 14. He went to college where he became the white boy guitar player for a hard working and smokin’ soul band from town. Later, Steve got into writing folk and country tunes in Cleveland while working as a schoolteacher. When he moved to New York City he played solo gigs – restaurants, bars, nightclubs and street corners -- for three years.

Steve now lives in Maryland where he has formed four bands. “The best way to get into a band with really good musicians is to be the founder. That way you don't have to audition,” he says. “Anyway, thank god they have always wanted to play the songs I write.”

"Mike has recently embraced the electronic keyboard,
  'a high-wire act without a net'. . ."
Mike McCormick - Keyboards

From a memorable 6th grade trumpet solo of "Swinging Safari", Mike has enjoyed many varied musical adventures over the years - marching with the Bishop McDevitt HS Band at the Miss America Parade in Atlantic City and watching for Miss Pennsylvania; grooving on Kimball console organ with the R&B band -"the Motivations"; squeezing out the french horn solo in the Bucknell Univ. orchestra performance of Carmina Burana at Constitution Hall; Bucknell Chorus road-trips to New York City; keeping the drunks awake at the Holiday Inn with Cathy; cutting two successful blues CDs and opening for SOJA and Billy Price with Park House Jam; and now performing some great new Steve Johnson songs with the Kings of Crownsville.

Mike likes to mix it up with the Nord Stage 2 digital samples and is drawn to interesting rhythms, tight arrangements, strong melodies and harmonies. Musical influences are numerous ranging from Jimmy Smith to Bruce Hornsby and ever expanding with help from the discerning ears of fellow "Kings".

". . . welcome our newest King!"
John Shepherd - Drums

John From grade school on to college, John trained to be a concert percussionsist. However, while in middle school, he received a drum set for a christmas present, and it became pretty clear where his focus would be. At 14, he performed with the Takoma Community Orchestra (including a reception for Washington DC's "Mayor For Live" Marion Barry). Eventually, playing with various basement/garage bands led to gigs at parties and bars, and occasional freelance gigs.

Eventually John was introduced to some people looking to form a band which turned into Ruthie and the Wranglers. After almost 10 years with Wranglers, including recording, touring, and live radio and TV performances, he opted to stick closer to home and began gigging with several well established DC area bands. Noted by music critics for his tasteful performance and groove, he's honed his skills playing rock, blues, jazz, punk, Brazilian (with bassist David Vermette), klezmer, surf, country, lounge (again w/ David), funk, Hawaiian, and sometimes 2 or more styles in one band.

". . . his style is all his own, unique and unforgetable . . ."
David Vermette - Bass Guitar

From a musical family, David Vermette started playing bass at age 12, played his first professional gig at age 13, and recorded his first studio session at age 14. He holds a Masters degree in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston, where he studied with Grammy Award winning jazz bassist Cecil McBee and with MacArthur Grant recipient Ran Blake. At NEC David was a teaching assistant in the Department of Music History and Musicology. He was also a student at two sessions of Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft seminars.

David has performed in every venue from Jordan Hall to a biker bar, including such Boston area jazz venues as the Acton Jazz Club, Ryles, the Beehive, and Scullers as well as Rock clubs like the Middle East and D.C.'s Black Cat. He has been heard at universities such as Brandeis and Tufts as well as on college radio. He has performed with such acts as Slant Six, the Live Wire Band, the Leah Langfeld Project, Steve Thomas & the Co-Conspirators (with Gary Fieldman and Rich Greenblatt), John Funkhouser, and Claire Ritter, as well as with his own post-rock quintet, Playhouse Republic. Most recently, David has performed with Brazilian jazz outfit Rio Garage and with lounge act Tony Anthony and the Malvivants.

". . . a leader in BIG band sounds . . ."
Jim Tavener - Trombone, Trumpet, Flugelhorn

Jim played baritone in high school and quit playing since there did not seem to be a need for a baritone player in the performance world. Upon hearing a "big band" for the first time in the Spring of his college freshman year, he bought a trumpet for $15 and has been playing ever since. He founded a bar band which played around Michigan's Upper Penninsula for about 5 years. Just after graduation, Jim toured with a group of singers before being called up by the U.S. Air Force. Since coming to Maryland, he retired from the Air Force and has started several bands in the area. He regularly leads a big band and jazz septet in the area.

". . . Raised in Hagerstown, MD, Ed discovered music early, using whatever he found to make musical sounds. . . ."
Edward Justice - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Bone

Once Ed started on the trumpet in elementary school he quickly began playing by ear, but was pushed to read music by his instructor, John Fignar.

By the end of High School, Ed was playing in a rock horn band (playing Chicago and BS&T covers), a polka band, and the community orchestra, as well as the Hagerstown Municipal Band, beginning an eclectic musical career. At Montgomery College he discovered jazz when he took an improvisational class taught by the big band pianist and arranger Bill Potts.

Today, in addition to the Kings of Crownsville, Ed plays in a standard big band (The Annapolis Junction Big Band), a classical brass quintet (The Incidental Brass), a Dixieland band (The Boonetowne Stompers), a German "oom pah" band (The Maryland Musikverein), and a British brass band (The Benfield Brass Band), as well as playing in the pit for various shows and musicals and subbing for other groups and pick-up bands.

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