Bios

CURRENT MEMBERS of MY OLD SCHOOL

Steve Campbell   Saxophones

It was in 1970; prior to attending junior high school in Los Angeles, that Steve heard the album East Bay Grease by Tower of Power. Remarkably, Steve was randomly selected to take beginning woodwind class when he entered junior high. Steve had no question of what instrument to play; it was going to be the baritone sax, the instrument that Doc Kupka plays for Tower of Power.

Steve continued to branch out and play tenor and alto saxophones in addition to the baritone sax. Steve played through high school where his exposure to true talent of the fellow students was somewhat overwhelming. Many of those music students went on to have incredible careers in the music business. Because of that experience, Steve decided to lay down his horn and pursue Engineering school where he thought his chances for success were better than being a musician.

While in college, Steve really developed a love for the music of Steely Dan. Every day after class, Steve would go back to the dorms and play a Steely Dan album to unwind.

Steve had not picked up a saxophone for 15 years until his employer decided it would be great fun to get together employee musicians for a spoof band for an annual kick-off meeting. Steve still remembers that first day of opening up his saxophone case and seeing the horn again.

Steve has not put down his horn since that occasion. Since then, Steve has played in various rock, jazz, soul, funk and big band groups all over Los Angeles. Steve moved to Colorado in 2006 and has played in various musical projects in the Denver Metro area.

Steve started My Old School, a tribute to the music of Steely Dan in 2011. Steve took his time finding the right personnel for the band. The band members needed to possess the right combination of talent, personality and a commitment to play the music. We found them! My Old School will provide a journey back to the 1970’s and 1980’s and share the incredible music of Steely Dan. Come join us and have some fun!

Tom Bartling   Guitar

Guitar player. Mastered the Kazoo at an early age and decided to switch to guitar (“How hard could it be?”) Played with tons of crappy bands for several years. Graduated from Musician’s Institute in ’93 and started playing with some good bands.

Favorite guitar players: Scott Henderson, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Brad Paisley, Brent Mason, Albert Lee,Steve Wariner, Vince Gill, and Sonny Landreth

Favorite color: Clear
Sexual Orientation: Like oriental sex, but it usually costs a little more
Strange but true: Front yard contains no grass! It consists entirely of weeds
Pet peeve: People who pad their bios with irrelevant fluff

Scott Unruh   Saxophones

My name is Scott Unruh and I am currently the band director at Brighton High School in Brighton, CO., and am in my 20th year of teaching. The past 30 years my musical experiences include playing with The Denver Kicks Band, The Joe Peterson Dance Orchestra, and The Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus band when they were performing in Denver. I have also played in back-up bands for Maynard Ferguson Trumpeter Alan Wise, Bassist Lou Fischer, Saxophonist Vince Gnojeck, and Trumpeter Bobby Shew. I am also currently a regular sub on Tenor & Alto for Denver based big bands Swing Inc., Zing, as well as R&B Funk group Atomic Brass Project and am currently playing lead Tenor for the Don Elwood Big Band based out of Berthoud, CO.

I began playing Tenor & Alto Sax with My Old School in October of 2011. The music of Steely Dan is an incredible mix of all of the styles of music that I enjoy playing and to be able to perform it with such an amazing group of musicians is truly a privilege.

Tom Rudd   Trumpet

After many good years in school music programs in Arizona then Colorado, I went to CSU as a biology major, found out my study habits precluded passing chemistry and I became a music major.  I was fortunate enough in college to get jobs in the Isaac Hayes orchestra twice and to perform with the Symphonic band, the Statesmen, orchestra and chamber ensembles of CSU.

I taught band and orchestra a total of 13 years in Colorado and played in the Ft. Collins Symphony for 7 years under Will Schwartz. I was fortunate to play alongside Gil Garcia many of those years. I also have been with the NUMC brass quintet for over 25 years. I currently play in the Brighton Jazz Big Band and Brighton Orchestra also. I did graduate work at UNC and studied with Bill Pfund in the summers of 1973-1975. Retirement brought me back to playing and the music of Steely Dan has been a fantastic experience.

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Zachary Nover   Keyboards

Zach grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana listening to the music of Steely Dan. By the time he was in high school, he was playing his favorite Steely Dan tunes on the piano. Zach rolled into Colorado in 1998 with the album “Countdown to Ecstasy” blaring from the tape deck. While in Colorado, Zach fell out from the music scene, learned to snowboard, went to college, and continued to woodshed music.

Zach resurfaced into the music scene several years ago, playing various open stages and one-offs with some very talented players. He is now a member of My Old School because he’d love to tour the Southland in a trav’ling minstrel show…

Jim Bartley   Bass

After being pulled from the trumpet section in HS jazz band to sub for the missing bass player, I played with a 5 piece rocknroll cover band, a 6 piece variety night club gig, and a 7 piece pop/funk/horn band through HS and college in SW Missouri. After graduating from college, the 7 piece toured the midwest for about 6 months……..we grew weary of the road, not unlike Fagen and Becker, and came back and got real jobs. I took a sabbatical from playing music for almost twenty years to have a wonderful family, and a rewarding career in finance at MillerCoors in Golden, CO.

In 2002, I picked up the bass again and started playing contemporary Christian music in several churches on the west side of Denver…..I met some amazing musicians that led to playing bass with the classic rock cover band The Jagtones. I also play with Cherry Veil, an original ‘rock with soul’ trio, and several other projects that keep me busy playing many styles of music. My influences on bass include Jaco and Rocco – Jazz, R&B, Funk – Soul with a Capital S, baby!!

My Old School is an amazing group of musicians that have an affinity for what Donald and Walter created with Steely Dan – no one applied jazz sensibilities to pop music the way they did.  Serious chopsmanship, edgy lyrics – scarcely imitated. I’m proud to say I’m the bass player for this awesome conglomeration of talent to pay tribute to our cult heroes Donald and Walter!

Tom McMillen   Lead Vocals, Percussion

Tom McMillen began his checkered musical career in junior high by choosing to be the only oboe player in the school orchestra. He never did master that instrument, and moved on to not mastering trumpet, guitar, piano, drums and vocals. Tom played drums and sang lead in several unforgettable frat-party- type bands in high school, college and beyond, including Bernese Mountain Dog, Full House, Cookies, and the mighty mighty Jagtones, where he met master bass player Jim Bartley. Tom has also been part of worship teams in a number of local churches, attempting to atone for past musical mistakes. Most recently, Tom was recruited into My Old School, where Tom tries to channel Donald Fagan’s reedy and odd voice, doing lead vocals and percussion. Tom is glad to finally get to sing Steely Dan songs somewhere other than in his car!

Kent Verbal   Drums

Laurie Verbal   Vocals

Doug Wardlow  Trombone

Doug Wardlow- Trombone. Hailing from Whippany, New Jersey thirty miles outside of NYC I was exposed to a wealth of music emanating from The Big Apple. I did my first Music Video conducting The Lawrence Welk Orchestra when I was four. Yes I still have the 8mm film. No you can’t see it!

Formally trained as a trombonist from age 9 and also playing any keyboard instrument I could get my hands on, I went on to study jazz performance with Thad Jones at William Paterson College in New Jersey. I have performed with many bands (concert bands, rock bands, big bands, little bands, one man bands), including the U.S. Army Band in Europe, and the USA  and in the New York Metro area and right here in Denver Colorado. I currently teach piano and trombone out of my private studio as well as play and substitute for several area bands.

I am always looking for the groove. Oh lookie here! these guys got that steely dan groove goin’ on!

I’m really pleased to be playing with MOS, because it is so well organized and has real grown up human beings functioning as if they were actual adults. Wait is this a real rock band?

 

Jody Barker   Vocals

 

 

MY OLD SCHOOL ALUMNI
Mike Harper Trombone

Mike has been playing the trombone for many years. Mike had a music scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado to study with Buddy Baker, but before the first day of his freshman year, Mike changed his major to business.

After some time off from the trombone, Mike was asked to join a Polka band. Let us just say Mike didn’t lack any motivation to return to blowin’ the trombone. Since then, Mike has played all around the Denver area with various Big Bands, Orchestras, Funk and Rhythm & Blues bands.

Some of Mike’s best musical experiences have been playing with the Denver Jazz Orchestra with Sam Bivens. Mike has had the pleasure of playing with some of Denver’s best jazz musicians as well as jazz greats travelling through the Denver area.

“If you keep playing in the community, your circle of musicians gets larger,” Mike says. That’s exactly how Mike became a member of My Old School. “The musicianship in My Old School is impressive,” says Mike, and playing with the band is his highpoint of the week.

Dean Kielian Drums

 

 

Curt Pleiss   Drums

Liz Mott  Vocals

Mike Ryan   Guitar

Mike was born in the Chicago suburbs to very musical parents. Learning guitar, mandolin, and a couple of years of viola training over the past 50 years, became a hunger that made the guitar a prominent part of life. Thirty years of playing in about every imaginable style of band professionally, was satisfying and profitable to be a career. He has played in 38 States and Brazil, with some of the finest musicians found. Some famous, some that should be.

After taking eight years off for a well needed break from the “biz”, Mike thought about getting back to “Doing it Again”, but this time playing in a style that really focused on something special. There are a few bands that have been important to American Contemporary music that opened the ears and minds of musicians and others. Inspirations to go into New Frontiers.

Steely Dan is one such band. Mike had always loved what they had done. Now to find people of the same mindset. He ran an ad that was answered by a Sax player… that had the same idea. Now, with twelve brethren together, Mike is thoroughly enjoying this new journey and class of Steely Dan music!