The architect and bandleader of Jonny T-Bird & the MPs. Some say you have to be born with the blues to play the blues. That was the case when Jon was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at an early age. Known as the mild form of the autism spectrum. But that didn't stop Jon from picking up the guitar at the age of thirteen. Back then, Jon studied under two of Milwaukee’s guitar legends, Jeff Dagenhardt and Greg Koch. Jon was given the name JONNY T-BIRD while he was a student at Wauwatosa West High School and one of his teachers (Bob Bathurst) called him that name out of the blue. The more he did it, the more that name stuck. Jon was learning classic rock songs and played with various bands during his teenage years. While he went to college at both MATC and Carroll University, Jon finally decided to pursue his music into blues and jazz. Jon can also be found giving private guitar and bass lessons if he's not performing.
If there is such a thing as "the fifth MP", then it would have to be "Big Dad" Robert Keelan. A veteran to the Milwaukee blues scene. Robert started off as a drummer in his teenage years, before eventually switching to blues harmonica. Robert studied harmonica under two of Milwaukee's harp masters, Jim Liban & Steve Cohen. On rare occasions, Big Dad can be seen with Jonny T-Bird's side project, "The JONNY T-BIRD & BIG DAD blues duo".
Craig began his journey into the music world receiving his first bass guitar as a youngster. Craig excelled in his high school music program at West Division High school, while also joining his first band around the age 16. He later continued his studies in Instrumental performance at Berklee College of music in Boston, Massachusetts. Professionally trained in contemporary music Craig is able to play different genres of music from Blues, Reggae, Jazz and even Funk. He has played with bands such as the Misfits, Kojo Reggae Band, Wicked Long Day and many more. Craig's main interest is the Electric Bass Guitar and singing. He loves to put on a show while performing , which is how he received his nick name "Cadillac Craig" in the since that he's so smooth while playing on stage.
Pierre Lee was born on May 24th 1988, twenty minutess outside of the city of Chicago in the factory town of Gary, IN. His love for music was realized at a very young age being exposed to the sounds of legendary artists such as James Brown, BB King, Little Milton, Ko Ko Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, Prince and Ray Charles while being raised by his grandmother and great grandmother. It wasn’t until attending high school in Milwaukee, WI during Junior year that Pierre found his true love for piano. Pierre was given his musical guidance from Doug Syme and Dean Lee. Over the years, Pierre has had the opportunity work with many well-known artists such as Dr. Richard Davis, The Esquires, Little Johnny “Guitar" Watson and Gospel Great Dr. Shirley Bartee. In addition to playing keys for Jonny T-Bird, you can find Pierre leading his own band.
MG has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the US over the past 15 years of his professional career, including tours/gigs with Keyshia Cole, Aaron Moore, Tweed Funk, Harvey Scales, The Esquires and as part of BB King’s House Band in Memphis. Whether if he’s with the MPs or someone else, MG’s drumming style can lay down a funky groove, sit in the pocket, or hit hyper-drive with a flurry of fills and high-energy, mesmerizing drum solos.
You may have seen Ms. Nikki Beckman behind the drums with the all-female pop band The Dots. She's no stranger to the blues, however. Nikki has shared her talents with the likes of Glenn Davis, Dave Potter, Gerry Hundt, Michael Coleman and Sweet Bev Perrone. Occasionally, she fills in on drums for Jonny T-Bird.
Sam Benedon is mainly a guitar player, but you can find him on bass with Jonny T-Bird if Cadillac Craig is unavailable. Outside of the MPs, you can find Sam at his family's pawn shop in Menomonee Falls, WI. You can also catch Sam every Thursday night with his Dad (Chuck) hosting Bub's Irish Pub's open blues jam.