• Bassist Mike Waldman

  • Steve Mintz plays guitar.

  • Lead Singer Mitch Chargo

  • Mike Waldman and Aaron Rhett

  • Aaron Rhett (foreground) with Brett Erickson on the drums

  • Aaron Rhett playing guitar.

  • Betsy Weiner and Carey Chapdelaine

  • Keyboardist Jeff Victor

  • Guitarist Steve Mintz with sax player Eric Moen

Who The Folk?! Stereo Kitchen

From left: Mike Waldman, Aaron Rhett, Mitch Chargo

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

Brett Erickson

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?”

Jeff: No.

Mitch Chargo, Carey Chapdelaine and Betsy Weiner

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. 

Mitch: Attorney

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.

Eric Moen and Jeff Victor

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.

Steve Mintz

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!

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About Lonny Goldsmith

Lonny Goldsmith is the editor of TC Jewfolk and Director of Communications for Jewfolk Media. He's an award-winning journalist who is involved in his third Jewish community after growing up in Michigan and spending a three-year stint in Chicago. He likes to write, cook and drink really good beer. He dislikes negotiating with his children to eat dinner yet gets sucked into it anyway. He can be reached at lonny@tcjewfolk.com or on twitter @lonny_goldsmith

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