John LaSala started playing guitar with his brothers at age 11. An early fan of folk, jug band and Americana music, John played in a folk mass group in his teens, the folk/country group FEZO in late high school and early college, and was an occasional member of the Acoustic Eels in later years. He and his brothers ran the Golden Aardvark coffee house in high school days and the Detour Coffee House at Boston University. John played intermittently for a number of years until he met Bob and Jo Ann Shaffer who were looking to start a jug band jam on their porch. They asked that question you always ask when you meet someone new - “Do you have a washboard?” The answer was yes! And a musical journey began. The Back Porch Jugband formed as a direct result of those jam sessions. John, Mark and Gary simply love to play and to share the fun and joy of jug band music with audiences wherever they can. They regularly play at farmers markets, coffee houses, bars and are available for private parties. They also play at the Doylestown Food Market, a cooperatively owned grocery store in Doylestown PA that sources its products primarily from local farms and producers. John is the President at the Market and encourages everyone to come in to see the bounty of Bucks County available there!
GARY P. COHEN
A Lambertville resident, Gary has recently retired from Plays-in-the-Park in Edison, NJ where he served as Producing Director for 30 years. A documentary filmmaker as well, Gary has helmed HALLOWEENVILLE and MAGIC ON MUSIC MOUNTAIN, both about Lambertville. He was the book writer for the off-B'way musical FRANKENSTEIN and director of the 80's shot-on-video cult classics Video VIOLENCE 1 & 2. He played guitar in his mis-spent youth, and is thrilled to have once again picked it up, along with the banjo, to strum along with the BPJB, now entering its sixth year.
As a young child I sang songs with my sisters and brothers while doing chores. Later, I sang in the church choir, then in school chorus. But I began to study music when learning an instrument. I played French horn throughout college and began playing harmonica during that time. I gave up playing French horn for something easier, like a violin, which I found at a flea market. But I decided to stop playing classic band and orchestra music, because I just wanted to have fun playing.
People were surprised that I could play blues harp, but it got me into my first band. I've spent the last 25 years trying to make my fiddle playing listenable. But I have reached my goal of having fun playing music, now I'm hoping that I can make it fun for you.
Steve Miller has been playing washboard since 1962 when he and some friends started a group when in Council Rock High School, Newtown, Pa. It was during the great folk music revival in the United State. Starting with run-of-the-mill standard folk tunes they immediately became a jug band when the saw Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band perform at the second annual Philadelphia Folk Festival (PFF). Now a five-piece group they have long been known as the Philadelphia Jug Band. They have played throughout the Delaware Valley and well beyond, returning to the PFF annually in an official or unofficial capacity. Steve studied piano as a kid and trained as a percussionist and singer in high school. In addition handling vocals on jug band tunes as well as the the washboard he plays blues kazoo. Secondary instruments are jug, spoons and washtub bass. He always appreciated his percussion lineage which was established by his grandmother who played drums in an all-female jazz band in the nineteen-teens. She also played piano as did her son, Steve'e father. As a college student he played ritzy cocktail lounges in New York City. in the 1930s.
DAVE CROSMAN - Guest Artist -
Dave grew up in a house where his father would pick up an instrument and start to play on it even if he had never played one before. Dave taught himself guitar as a teenager and used it to accompany his singing. He got more serious about his guitar playing when his son asked him to teach him guitar. A couple of years later Dave was asked to join a group called "Faith and Practice" and his performing career began. He is now working with 4 different music groups and playing tenor banjo to enhance the sound (although some would say that a banjo is a step backward)! He often "sits in" with the BPJB.