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Meet the Band!

Dennis Cerfus I started this project with Chris back in 2003. I’m still having fun today as I did back then.. I hope to see you at our shows! Thanks Dennis….

Matthew Schroeder is a Milwaukee based WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) award winning guitarist who is equally at home on electric or acoustic guitar. Matt is one of a handful of players to graduate, with honors, from the short-lived cooperative program between The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a performance degree in American Finger-Style Guitar. Matt is one of Milwaukee’s prominent guitar educators and has taught guitar at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music since 1992. He also teaches at Mount Mary University and is the Music Director of the Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts. Matt is a featured guitar instructor on Hal Leonard’s Guitar Instructor website and on the Hal Leonard instructional DVDs “Acoustic Guitar Licks Goldmine” and “Rock Guitar Licks Goldmine.” Matt is featured on recordings such as Pet Engine’s 1994 release “Hearts and Bones and Voices,” the compilation CD “American Finger-Style Guitar circa 1999,” and his debut solo acoustic fingerstyle CD, “Signal,” released in 2006. A popular performer, Matt can be seen as an acoustic soloist and as the smoking guitar wielding “Space Ace” with the international touring KISS tribute band STRUTTER.

Chris Cerfus’ musical journey began with the piano at age 12 and non-traditional lessons taught by ear.  Classical music by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Chopin were early exposures.  Chris enjoyed the piano, played through college, and was even awarded a Gold Cup.  Steve Perry, one of Chris’ favorite artists, and bands like Journey, Kansas and Styx influenced him.  Since then, his music expanded into tributes and covers and led him to the synthesizer.  Chris’ debut gig was at Summerfest.  He also performed with In The Verse, a Christian Rock Band.  Some of his most exciting performances have been opening for Phil Vassar, The BoDeans, and OAR (Of A Revolution).  And, when he can find the time, Chris writes original songs – some of which have charted!

When “Jonny Tantrum” (Jonny Howland) is pounding away on his arena worthy drum kit you may not see him hiding behind all that hardware.  The one thing we do know is you will hear and feel him.  Jonny has been bringing his high energy rock groove and vocal chops to the stage since the early 90’s.  We urge you to come and come and experience the “Tantrum” for yourself!

Ryan Kutz plays several instruments.  While he first learned to play the piano, Ryan also plays the guitar, bass, and drums.  He began playing the guitar in 2009 and to date it is his favorite.  Bands that have influenced Ryan’s music are rock bands like Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Slipknot and Hinder.  Ryan has played with local, regional rock and indie bands.  Highlights include opening for Disciple and OAR and playing with OAR and MMR (Modern Music Revolution) at Summerfest, as well as receiving a nomination for a WAMI award.  By day (or night) Ryan operates RK Productions as an audio/recording engineer for artists in many genres including rap, folk, rock, acoustic, indie, and metal.  Ryan is currently writing, recording, and producing music of his own as well as playing a few Wisconsin gigs and streaming live virtual performances.

Tom Savage started playing guitar in 7th grade.  He did not like to practice so he did not progress as quickly as he might have.  In High School, Tom joined a band, but only played one gig (practice was still an issue).  In his junior year he heard some folk singers and became more interested in playing.  He really liked Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and played folk music at coffee houses and a few school concerts.  While Tom “cut his teeth” on folk music, he played rhythm guitar with classic rock band the Briggs Bluesbusters and recently joined Cerfus Project.  Tom is a big fan of artists Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen.  He continues to enjoy listening to Dylan and Simon, but also contemporary folk musicians like Mumford and Son, Avett Brothers and Ed Sheeran.  Tom’s fondest memories are playing three times in the Battle of the Corporate Bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and playing at Summerfest.  While the guitar is Tom’s primary instrument, he also plays harmonica and some banjo.

Pete Steinke began playing a Cornet when he was nine years old.  Now he plays the trumpet, baritone and valve trombone although the trumpet is his favorite.  German music prevailed in the Steinke home when Pete was growing up and for over 40 years he played with Johnny Hoffman und die Herzbuben where he played jazz, big band and concert band music.  Pete’s most memorable performance was at Germanfest in 2006.  Later he joined the Briggs Bluesbusters and Cerfus Project bands with a focus on rock.  Pete’s musical interests vary.  He enjoys complex music and is a big fan of progressive rock, jazz fusion and classical music.  He also loves new wave and anything that “isn’t the norm.”  Pete’s eclectic listening taste continues to evolve and he may jump from classical to rock to techno, not sticking with any one genre for too long.  Pete is currently exploring several unknown groups like Disclosure, Jessie Ware and Snarky Puppy.  When he can find free time Pete enjoys collecting historical objects, drawing and water color painting.

Rick “Ringo” Steinke has been playing the tenor saxophone since he was six years old.  He since added alto sax, clarinet and percussion to his list.  Although Rick’s primary influences are jazz, fusion, nu metal, alternative and progressive rock, any band with horns grabs his attention and he believes, “There is a genre of music that will move you – if you have a soul!”  Rick opened for several well-known acts including Gavin DeGraw, Meat Loaf, Phil Vassar, Gov’t Mule, 3 Dog Night, Robert Randolph, Kip Moore and Clay Walker.  Most enjoyable, however, was opening for crowds of thousands that rocked and grooved with the band – like the openers for Pat Benetar and Dennis DeYoung at Summerfest.  Currently, Rick is studying rock sax greats Bobby Keys, Clarence Clemons, Junior Walker, Thom Gimbel and Walter Parazaider and exploring the amazing things they’ve done with their horns.  Words Rick plays by come from legendary sax man Bobby Keys who said, “You gotta put horns on it, then it’ll rock!”

Photos by Vega Photography, Lori Hennes Mergenthaler