Stereo Kitchen has become, in the words of backup vocalist Carey Chapdelaine, the “Jewish band.” Six of the nine members of the cover band are MOTs. But besides being more than halfway to a minyan, they are really good. Meet the band as they prepare to play Saturday night at the Fine Line (and read to the end to get a special deal for TC Jewfolk readers) in this week’s Who The Folk?!
Who is Stereo Kitchen?
Mitch Chargo, lead vocals
Mike Waldman, bass
Steve Mintz, guitar
Aaron Rhett, guitar
Brett Erickson, drums
Jeff Victor, keyboard
Eric Moen, saxophone
Betsy Weiner and Carey Chapdelaine, back-up vocals
How did you get started?
Mitch: We started as Visceral and it was me and Brett and some other guys. About two and a half years ago we started adding everyone else.
What kind of music do you play?
Carey: We kind of run the gamut: A little country, old school rock, funk, R &B. We try to do dance songs and fist pumpers. We want people to dance and sing along.
Mike: We’ll play 30 to 40 songs in a gig. We always try to play a couple of new ones.
Case in point: At a recent rehearsal in Hopkins, the band is rehearsing the Steve Miller Band hit “Swingtown.” During a break, Jeff and Aaron try to figure out how to end the song, which if you listen to it, ends in synthesizer-fueled fade-out. In less than 20 minutes, the two of them – the only two who are professional musicians in the band – figured out how to morph the song in the Ozzy Osbourne hit “Crazy Train.” And it worked.
Mike: That’s a weird mash-up.
Aaron: Are we going back to “Swingtown?”
Betsy: You can’t go back to “Swingtown.” It’s a one-way ticket on the Crazy Train.
Mitch: Most songs fade out, but you can’t fade out on stage. So we need to stop in an exciting way. It’s designed for the people we’re playing to. We love it, but we want them to love it to.
The band also rehearsed the B-52s classic “Love Shack” with Jeff taking the male-vocals – although Betsy and Carey really drive that song. They also take on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and The Beatles Medley of “Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight/The End.”
How often do you rehearse?
Mitch: Right before a gig, every week for weeks.
Carey: We cram a lot before.
All of the band have kids, which range from 3 years old to a college senior.
Mitch: I’m playing for book money.
With the exception of Aaron, a professional guitarist, and Jeff, a music producer, all have jobs outside of the music business.
Mike: Executive Director of the St. Paul JCC (editor’s note: he is also on the board of Jewfolk Media)
Steve: Teacher at the Heilicher Jewish Day School
Brett: Runs an IT consulting company
Eric: Project manager at a printing company
Betsy: Yoga instructor and teacher of yoga instructors
Carey: Stylist and partner with men’s clothier JHilburn
However, all come with music experience.
Mitch: Brett plays with Mango Jam; Aaron auditioned for Life House. Eric and Jeff were with Sussman Lawrence and The Peter Himmelman Band. Mike has been in bands since high school. I’ll lead services at Kenesseth Israel Congregation.
Steve: I am very capable lead guitarist. Aaron is an extraordinary lead guitarist.
Betsy: I’ve sang my whole life. My husband teases me that I lettered in choir in high school.
Carey: I lettered in choir too!
So here’s the thing about a band like is where everyone is older and comes with life experience: no one is looking for the band to hit it big.
Mike: No one has delusions that we’re going to make it.
Jeff: It’s the “Almost Famous” experience.
Mike: This is the most fun band I’ve ever been in.
Jeff: It’s weird. It’s never happened in my life. Bands that fight can be great. Ray and Dave Davies (of The Kinks) fought. The very nature of this band is that there’s no other reason to do it but for fun.
Tickets for Stereo Kitchen’s Feb. 4 show at the Fine Line Music Café are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. A special offer for TC Jewfolk readers: Show this article on your phone at the door and get $2 off!