GUMBOHEAD is a St. Louis-based collective of musical rapscallions who find joy playing tunes born in and influenced by New Orleans and southwestern Louisiana. Formed in 1999 by longtime attendees of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the band quickly developed a loyal following who thrive on the energy and party vibe that emanates from the stage during every show. Their musical vocabulary spans zydeco, funk, jazz and traditional Mardi Gras rhythms. On any given night, you’ll hear tunes by the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, The Radiators, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Meters, The Iguanas, Galactic and the inimitable Professor Longhair – plus original music with a decidedly spicy Big Easy flavor. Gumbohead has opened for such legendary Louisiana artists as the Neville Brothers, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jon Cleary, Buckwheat Zydeco, Terrance Simien and Chubby Carrier. The band has also entertained at many festivals, including the Threadhead Patry in New Orleans, the Big Muddy Blues Festival, Chicago’s Ribfest, Taste of NOLA in Peoria, IL and Blissfest in northern Michigan. If you’re looking to let the good times roll, look no further than Gumbohead.
TOM MARTIN (ACCORDIONS, KEYBOARDS) is a born-and-bred St. Louisan who moonlights as a Sales Manager with AT&T. After a brief stint in Cape Girardeau, where he formed Zydeco Tom & The Red Hot Cayenne Peppers, Tom returned to his hometown, and became one of Bob Case’s legendary Wild Accusations in 1998 before joining Gumbohead the next year. In what little free time he has, Tom enjoys spicy food, KDHX radio, Cardinal baseball and playing the stock market. You will often find him playing at the Focal Point with one of his other bands, the Cajun Gator Baitors or the Southside Creole Playboys.
TIM HALPIN (GUITAR, VOCALS) is a Scorpio with a deep passion for movies, food and all things New Orleans. He started attending Jazzfest in 1989 and has found a way to make an annual pilgrimage to the Crescent City ever since. In real life, Tim is a Creative Director for an advertising agency. His previous musical experience – at least that which the lawyers will let him discuss – includes stints in Toxic Shock, DisBand and Shut Up & Dance. In addition to Gumbohead, Tim plays and sings with the Funky Butt Brass Band and the Boudin Brothers. Tim grew up in Harbor Springs, Michigan, a beautiful little town on the shores of Little Traverse Bay. He has a B.A. in English from Miami (Ohio) University and has every intention of re-reading all the classics one of these days.
BEN REECE (SAXOPHONES, VOCALS) has been involved in St. Louis’s original music scene for more than ten years. While attaining a Jazz Performance degree from S.I.U.E., Ben cut his teeth with rock/jam band, E.M. Grueve. During this period, Ben found some lifelong soul brothers and formed Hip Grease, playing boogaloo jazz and soul funk. Later, he found kindred spirits in the Funky Butt Brass Band. He also plays sax and bass with The Feed. Currently, Ben works in an instrument repair shop and gives private lessons on all woodwinds. He lives on the south side of St. Louis with his wife and two small children.
BENET SCHAEFFER (DRUMS, VOCALS) has had only one year off in his 30+ years of playing drums. And he hated every minute of it. Benet’s band resume is impressive. He has played with some of St. Louis’s most popular bands, including Fairchild, Leroy Pierson and Soulard Blues Band. In addition to Gumbohead, he lays down the groove with One More Round (a Johnny Cash tribute band), the Boudin Brothers and The St. Louis Social Club. Benet lives in the city of St. Louis, and is partial to Ayotte Drums and Sabian Cymbals, both of which he owns to excess. He is also the part owner of a hot restaurant/bar in St. Louis, the West End Grill and Pub. Be sure to check it out sometime!
ANDY COCO (BASS, VOCALS) has been singing at county fairs, in choruses, quartets and community theatre since the age of three. He learned to play bass and guitar on a dare from a high school friend in Berks County, PA. Andy graduated from Miami (Ohio) University with a Mass Comm degree and is currently Director of Production for KDHX, St. Louis community radio (88.1 on your FM dial), where he also hosts a funk/soul/jazz radio show every Friday at 2 pm CST called The Rhythm Section. In addition to Gumbohead, Andy is also a member of the Boudin Brothers, the Dogtown Allstars and the Rhythm Section Road Show, a revolving crew featuring some of the city’s finest musicians. He still aspires to play the Fox Theatre before eventually retiring to a nice house in New Orleans’ Garden District.
RON “BIG MAN” SIKES (FROTTOIR, PERCUSSION) joined Gumbohead to play rubboard and percussion in the summer of 2000. By day, Ron is a Band Director and college percussion instructor. By night, he’s a freelance musician, composer and arranger. He is married to Catie, and they live in Jefferson County with their three lovely daughters. Along with his many teaching responsibilities, Ron maintains a busy performance schedule as a percussionist, drum set artist and jazz vibraphonist. In addition to Gumbohead, Ron plays rubboard for the Boudin Brothers and pounds the skins for The Funky Butt Brass Band. He has also performed with Stratus, We Like Girls, Up On The One, Silk Pajamas, Ritmo Caliente, The Original Knights of Swing, Cherri Octopi, The Ron Sikes Duo, Pat Liston, Danny Liston and Mama’s Pride. Ron is endorsed by Smith Mallets and Lewi Customs Cajons.
TONY ESTERLY (LEAD GUITAR) discovered his love for music as a young’un, learning hymns from his grandmother while she played the organ. At 16, he picked up the guitar, and within two months was playing at church services. Tony soaked up the blues like a sponge, learning as many styles as possible, but his main influence was Stevie Ray Vaughan. After high school, Tony attended Greenville College and studied jazz guitar and studio recording for a year, then quit to join the now defunct LP Outsiders and “tour the world and elsewhere.” He joined Gumbohead just before Mardi Gras 2005, memorized about 75 tunes in three days, was thrown onstage at the Broadway Oyster Bar and has never looked back. He now resides primarily in Nashville, TN, where he works as an audio engineer, composer and arranger.