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Band Biographies

Click a link below to jump to a band member, or browse on your own.

Jason Feehan | Randy Chertkow | Dave Hallock | Chip Hinshaw | John Owens | Tom Roper | Steve Owens | Ryan Lockhart |

Matt Scholtka | Dugan O'Keene | Tom Susala | Jerry Waggoner | Caroline Bruno | Cheyenne Pinson | Dana Huyler | Alison Logan | Ted Blegen | Tom Beeyachski | Danielle Wetle | Eric Elmer

Jason Feehan

Jason founded Beatnik Turtle in 1998. He has no musical talent and can barely play an instrument. Despite this, Jason writes most of Beatnik Turtle songs and it shows. Years ago he divulged his dream to write 365 songs for an electronic Songs-A-Day Calendar. Today, that dream has come true with The Song of the Day. When not busy writing music, he can be found at work, having taken up the challenge that the world has too few lawyers. And, when not busy working or writing music, he can be found adding his two cents to The BackStage Blog and writing for The Indie Band Survival Guide.

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Randy Chertkow

Randy has been active in music since the age of 10 and plays all types of saxophones, although his favorite by far is the Baritone "Bathtub" Saxophone. Besides saxes and singing, Randy plays flute, oboe, guitar, bass, recorder, penny whistle, keyboard, clarinet, spoons, shaker, tambourine, and, on a good day, the triangle. Obviously. Randy's dream is to become his own self-contained orchestra. When not collecting instruments, playing shows, or writing songs, he can be found researching and writing The Indie Band Survival Guide and The BackStage Blog.

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Dave Hallock

Dave started playing the trumpet at 10 years of age when the government, after a battery of tests, determined that Dave could do the least damage to society if he learned to play the trumpet. His parents begged to differ, but decided that if the government said so, it must be true. Dave honed his playing abilities while in high school by playing in marching band, jazz band, and a brass quartet (he was the fifth, and secret, member). After college, Dave set his trumpet down and entered the real-world. But, the government came a knockin' and reminded Dave that he needed to play the trumpet. Luckily, he ran into Beatnik Turtle at a show (which was very convenient) and insisted that he would find fame and fortune if he joined Beatnik Turtle. He's still waiting for his both his fame and fortune.

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Chip Hinshaw

At age 10, Chip was given the opportunity to learn the instrument of his choice (so long as that choice was trombone). Chip's Journey to Trombone Enlightenment nearly terminated at the beginning of his high school years when he decided he was more interested in playing hockey and football than giving oral pleasure to ten feet of twisted brass tubing. However, parental intervention prevailed and, irony of ironies, Chip actually embarked on the path to a career in music, majoring in jazz performance at the University of Miami in Florida. However, the pressures of academia didn't mesh well with the demands of music, and the journey finally ended after Chip's freshman year. From then Chip's bass trombone spent almost ten years entombed in its case, until an ambush attack aboard the Metra and several subsequent threatening phone calls, Chip at last surrendered and agreed to pick up his bass trombone once again and join Beatnik Turtle. And, if that wasn't enough, Chip can be heard as a professional voiceover artist whose career spans over 15 years ( and nobody can seem to get him to shut up.

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John Owens

John comes from a family of musicians, and when the time came for little Johnny to pick his instrument, he decided he didn't want to be a musician. He wanted to be a drummer.

Starting in 5th grade, John's first accomplishment was to learn the "Hawaii Five-O" theme song, (complete with tribal floor tom action) from an old 45 single. After initial interest in bands like The Cars, John discovered something that would fuel his love for drumming for many years: Rush. Like Beatnik Turtle's guitarist, Tom Roper, John quickly proceeded to learn every song from the three extremely talented Canadians (mostly by listening to the LP records set on the slowest speed in order catch each beat and fill, then applying it at full speed later on) and soon connected with two other musicians who happened to be Rush fanatics themselves. After awhile John moved on to discover other great bands that would greatly influence not only his drumming, but also his overall sense of feel, melody, and harmony (such as Husker Du, fIREHOSE, Fountains of Wayne, and Ben Folds Five). John joined Beatnik Turtle in 2002 after answering a very engaging "DRUMMER WANTED" ad posted at a local bathhouse . er, drum shop, and feels very fortunate to be their drummer as the diversity of the music in a pop format allows him to not only play in many different styles but also write and sing as well.

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Tom Roper

Having been raised in an environment of ever-present music in the 1970s (everything from classical music to 70s pop rock to disco), Tom was fortunate enough to attend a grade school with an exceptional music education program. Singing was a requirement, but an unfortunate experience scarred Tom's ability to sing for the next 25 years. So he did the only logical thing and picked up a guitar. While in high school, like John Owens, Tom learned to play every song Rush ever recorded. Soon he found himself in the folksy pop cover band Tommy Sue as lead guitarist. After they disbanded, a chance meeting with Jason Feehan at BT, Inc. led him to show Jason how to play an Am7 and, more importantly, how to tune his guitar. Impressed, Tom was asked to join Beatnik Turtle in its globally efforts of overthrowing pop music. To date, it's been a worthwhile experience and, best of all, he has been able to overcome his trauma and take up singing.

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Steve Owens

Coming from a musical family (his father and sister were accomplished trombonists, and brother John Owens, a drummer), Steve originally started out as a trumpet player until he discovered the piano at the age of 12 which he taught to himself (by wearing out the grooves of many Chicago albums). Steve's biggest influence on his piano skills is an unknown individual. It was many years ago. Late one night in a Holiday Inn lounge, Steve sat down and started playing the piano. A few minutes later he was approached by a cocktail waitress. She said someone had a request - that he stop playing. Since that night, Steve vowed to be the best piano player he could be. And, if you don't count any Beatnik Turtle band members, he hasn't been heckled since. Steve wishes to extend his thanks to whoever that person was and to know, that somewhere, sometime, you will pay for what you've done. You will one day hear Steve play. When not plotting revenge or playing music, Steve is an award winning freelance illustrator & graphic artist.

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Ryan Lockhart

Unable to speak a word of English, having been born in the back woods of Idaho and raised by a tribe of estranged Maori tribemen, Ryan moved to New Orleans where he learned to sing phonetically (fone-net-ickly) wowing not only the choir director, but various speech therapists as well. By the end of his senior year, Ryan was courted by the most elite academic institutions but decided to study vocal performance at South Eastern Louisiana University. Ryan soon began to collaborate with the Columbia Community Theater Arts Center applying and expanding his abilities on stage as an actor and musician, as well as off stage as a director, stage manager, and concession stand vendor. Ryan moved to Chicago in 2001 to study improvisational theater at the world-famous Second City Theater and has been involved in the scene ever since, including: the sketch comedy group, The Applicants; the comedy troupe, Stranger Danger; and the sci-fi comedy show, Sci-Fry.

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Matt Scholtka

Matt met up with Beatnik Turtle while working on Sci-Fry: A Dark Comic Roast of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Genres, which he was head-writer, director, and producer. Since then, Matt has been a big fan of Beatnik Turtle and their exciting adventures through space and time. To aid BT on their cosmic journey, Matt has loaned them his steady drawing hand to help develop their websites and his quirky sense of humor to write songs and craft lyrics.

Matt has a degree in graphic design from UW-Madison and extensive web design experience. He is a senior designer for a Fortune 50 company (that shall remain nameless and ominous) and has developed countless freelance design projects. Matt is also a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Program, the I.O. Theater, and other such schools of nonsense and tom-foolery. In addition to his role in Sci-Fry, Matt has directed, written and performed in improvisational and sketch comedy shows around Chicago and festivals across the country, including the Chicago Improv Festival and the U. C. B. Del Close Marathon in New York City.

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Dugan O'Keene

After playing in many bands all through is school years, Dugan took a brief hiatus from music to enter Master Won Big Bong's Dojo of the Angry Brown Wind as an amateur sumo wrestler. During his training period, the traditional sumo weight gain techniques were abandoned in favor of a strict regimen of Meisterbrau and Hooters Wings. Eventually, Dugan returned to music and found Beatnik Turtle. On the basis of their charming little ditties, affable personalities, and acceptable personal hygiene, the band is easy to love. Unfortunately, they are also even easier to hate...

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Tom Susala

Tom was born and raised on Chicago's Northwest side. A child of the 60's, Tom was influenced by the Beatles, Motown, and Memphis soul. Tom joined his first band in 1967 as a rhythm guitarist playing three and four chord cover tunes. After a short stint as a lead guitarist, Tom decided that his greatest attraction was bass guitar. He went on to play bass guitar for some of Chicago's blues superstars; Son Seals, Eddie Clearwater, Hubert Sumlin (Howlin' Wolf,) and Studebaker John Grimaldi. Tom has also participated in diverse projects as: World Beat band: Hidden Colors, Pop Band: Suzy Brack and New Jack Lords, and R&B septet: The Smokin' Section. Some of Tom's bass influences are: James Jamerson (Motown,) Paul McCartney, Donald "Duck" Dunn (Booker T & the MGs, Blues Brothers,) and Jaco Pastorius (Pioneer of the fretless bass and member of the Fusion band, Weather Report.) Tom is employed at a large corporation that specializes in getting things from one place to another and proudly lives in the Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.

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Jerry Waggoner

Jerry honed his skill on the slide guitar during his college years and is a member of the The Bridgeburners. Luckily for Beatnik Turtle, Jerry has been kind enough to lend his slide guitar prowess on all of their albums including their upcoming Live Album a feat which he is none to proud of.

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Caroline Bruno

Caroline is the youngest of seven children, as well as a twin. She was able to cultivate her loungy vocals through the screaming and yelling of early childhood. She then polished up her velvety chords while serving 3 years in Tony and Tina's Wedding. Since then, she has done her best to infiltrate the Chicago Blues Scene, where she is known as "Bruno Baby." Bruno Baby is thrilled to have had the chance to play with BT, those guys really know how to jam.*

[*Beatnik Lawyer says: Beatnik Turtle does not know how to jam.]

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Cheyenne Pinson

Cheyenne grew up in a family where knowing music was a requirement to survive. She started bouncing in time to the music on the way home from the hospital, started on small percussion at 2, piano at 7, singing at 9 and trumpet at 10. She majored in trumpet/music education on a scholarship for 2 years at Michigan State University, but then switched her major to acting for more career stability. She is now a (usually) working actress, a singer, a stagehand, a temp, an educator, a waitress, and anything else that may help pay the bills. She also interior decorates, dog sits and contributes to BT all gratis just because she loves to.

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Dana Huyler

Dana Huyler hails from Austin, Tejas, and is the Song of the Day website code wrangler. Before the band even knew that they needed a website, Dana stepped up and wrote the custom backend from scratch, using MOD_PERL, MySQL, id3v2 tags, cron jobs, duct tape, and stucco. Dana came to the project after coding his own award-winning games site, which won an Origin's Award for a website version of the Cheapass Games Button Men. The site is free and can be found at: Dana also joins Beatnik Turtle songwriting sessions virtually from Texas using modern technology such as telephones, carrier pigeons, and megaphones. And other times, low-tech solutions such as Skype and BT's groupware backend. Fortunately for all, Dana's dulcet tones are strangely absent from BT's songs, but if you listen closely, you can hear his contribution on songs playing his favorite instrument, the Air Synthesizer.

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Alison Logan

Alison Logan is a graduate of Millikin University with a BFA in Acting. She currently stars in Tony n' Tina's Wedding at Piper's Alley in Chicago and is currently a student at the Second City Conservatory. Alison has hosted her own cabaret show - "Alison & Company" - at Gregory's Bar and Grill in Decatur, Illinois and has sang with The Vanilla Village Villains and The Brian Schyler Trio.

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Ted Blegen

Ted Blegen, was on the verge of meeting Randy and Jason of Beatnik Turtle for years and had almost nearly met them on five different occasions. Then, due the laws of probability, he finally met Randy. Upon Randy's mention that he was in a band, Ted immediately hired them to back up his sketch comedy group (The Dolphins of Damnation) sound unheard. Luckily for Ted, they didn't suck. Being involved in has made Ted happier than a semi-attractive girl at a Star Trek convention. Ted's an actor, raconteur, screenwriter, novelist, and now, thanks to, a singer and songwriter.

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Tom Beeyachski

Tom Beeyachski has no formal musical training, but what he lacks in skill he makes up for with his Seinfeldian talent for watching people. Inspirations for his lyrical muses come mostly from a series of fizzled relationships, a meandering career, and time spent commuting. "The best song ideas come from watching your friends, which is also the best way to lose friends." Beatnik Turtle and have given Tom a whole new set of friends who share his interest in making fun of other people. "Our artistic works are not meant to be mean", says Tom "some people just cry easily and that emotion is often the birthplace of genius."

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Danielle Wetle

Being a music teacher, playing in a Chicago area 12 piece dance band, and directing the hand chimes choir at church left her with a lot of free time, Danielle decided to join Beatnik Turtle on a few songs. Now her musical ambitions have been fulfilled! She spends the rest of her "free time" with her husband and their three children.

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Eric Elmer

Eric has spent the better part of the past 20 years insulating himself with more talented people. In that time, he has sung, played, and written songs in bands like The Carpetbaggers, Nightshade, The Bridgeburners, DemoX, and Maple Honey Hot. Most recently, Eric co-founded The Cowbirds Another of his moves is to study an instrument only long enough to become semi-competent, then find something else to stink at...a tactic he's pursued over the years on guitar, bass, harmonica, congas, and mandolin. Look for his all-clarinet solo album in the near future.

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