The Shakers were born in 1995, from the womb of the treasure coast “Queen of the Blues”, Cookie Mariano. Then members of blues band, The Vagrantz, saxophonist Gene Oliveri, guitarist Pete Quigley and drummer Mike Farris decided it was time to leave the shelter of Cookie’s “kingdom” and explore the musical world on their own.
Quigley suggested enlisting then original “Dalai Lama” bassist Mike Howard. Quigley and Howard, both transplants from the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area had worked together for years in the highly successful blues group, “The Fabulous Fleetwood’s” . The quartet needed one more ingredient to the mix. They all agreed that Glenn Whalen, formerly of “Hot ‘Lanta”, “The Fabulous Fleetwood’s”, “Shades of Blue” and many other South Florida blues and roots musical groups’ was the perfect choice. Whalen provided strong vocals, piano and guitar as well as a wealth of knowledge on American music. Thus the group began their musical journey.
The Shakers musical repertoire consists of a variety of songs and genres. Playing blues rock ‘n’ roll, country, southern rock, jazz, standards, ballads and specialty tunes, the group could easily jump into any style. The groups’ song list is extensive and consists of over 300 songs. The group uses no set list and relies on the ‘feeling’ of the audience to gauge their show.
Many compositions feature the sound of Oliveri's passionately powerful saxophone. His tenor styling is reminiscent of the early honkers of the 40s' and 50s', such as Red Prysock, Illinois Jaquet and Sam Butera and the soulful 60s' sound of King Curtis and Jr. Walker. Originally from Saugerties, NY he was a member of “Preacher Jack and the
Soul Drivers” and “Johnny Rabb and the Jailhouse Rockers” before heading south
Where in Fla, he set out to
revive the saxophone as the instrumental focal point of Rhythm and Blues. Also featured is the duet work between the
sax and guitar, which reinforces the groups’ unique sound. Pete Quigley’s’ lead
guitar and slide guitar work reflects his southern rock and blues roots. He
once had the honor to audition for The Allman Brothers Band. Along with
Hendrix, influences include blues greats Albert King, B.B. King, Stevie Ray
Vaughn as well as southern rock pioneer Duane Allman.
Glenn Whalen’s, powerful R&B lead voice provides the perfect blend to the ensemble. Add Whalen’s voice, (often compared to Joe Cocker), to the frantic excitement lead vocal of Oliveri, the road house vocal of Howard, the novelty voice of Quigley and harmonies by all; the shakers present a formidable vocal line up. Whalen also a blistering blues guitarist, decided to tackle keyboard duties with the Shakers and in doing so as developed a unique rhythmic and percussive style somewhere in between Allen Toussaint and Les McCann, winning praise from NRBQ pianist extraordinaire Terry Adams.
Ever since the day Miami’ Mike Howard migrated north to the treasure coast he quickly earned the reputation as ‘The Bass Player’ amongst his fellow musicians. Influenced by bassist like Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown and Paul Chambers, Howard has a knack for making things swing. He provides low down bottom, akin to legendary bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn. Mike Farris the initial drummer contributed to a successful startup for the group, but in ‘97 returned to his native home back in Virginia. This vacancy gave the Shakers the opportunity to work with some of the areas’ most sought after drummers.
In August of 2001, The Shakers met up with drum specialist Tommy De Quattro, and immediately enlisted him. A critically acclaimed drummer described, as ‘The Shuffle King’ he was the perfect man for the job. You can hear Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa in Tom’s playing very distinctively.
De Quattro, from Providence R.I., was a former member or the original “ Roomful of Blues” and also “Duke Robillard and the Pleasure Kings” In the eighties Tom made his way to Austin Texas where he played with such greats as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmie Vaughn, LuAnn Barton and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Throughout the years he has had the distinct pleasure of playing with legends Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and many others.
Through shear musical talent alone the Shakers have become the premier musical group on the treasure coast. Without much publicity or promotion the Shakers have steadily built a loyal fan base and established themselves as a vendible “house band” at many of their venues. Repeat engagements are practically guaranteed. Audiences and Club owners alike willfully give testament, “The Shakers are my favorite band!” .
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