Bios

So just who are these guys?  Read on, MacDuff!  Click a link below to jump directly to each band member’s bio.

John Jesitus  Jeff Wingo  Marc the Shark  Billy Rock  Steve Meier  John Battista  Jeff Moody

 

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John Jesitus — Lead Vocals, Harmonica

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

I was between projects and looking to do something that was more “me” than your generic classic rock band that tries to be everything to everybody. My brother had been suggesting I do a Springsteen tribute for years, and I just dismissed the idea. Didn’t know tributes would become so popular, or that people would actually pay me for singing songs I’ve known by heart since I was a teenager. In late 2012, Jeff and I worked up 4 or 5 songs almost as a joke, but once we heard the results it quickly became serious.

Favorite Bruce song?

Too many to pick from. Probably “Backstreets,” off the Born to Run album. Followed by “For You.” Bruce wasn’t writing many love songs in those days, but he nailed these 2.

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

My friends know I am all about Darkness on the Edge of Town. That album just hit me at the exact right moment in my life to mirror things that I saw happening in my family, my community and my country. Stern, bracing. Don’t worry, we won’t be playing it in its entirety unless some deep-pocketed patron makes us an offer we can’t refuse!

I also have this indelible memory from a show at the Richfield (Cleveland, Ohio area) Coliseum, late 70s or early 80s. In “Prove It All Night,” at the end of the second chorus, the band pulled a dramatic stop as Bruce and Little Steven both shouted without any accompaniment, roughly in the vicinity of harmony, “Prove It All Night for Your Love!” Yes, I’m going to make the boys play it that way.

Other artists you like/follow?

I’m partial to the heartland rockers/songwriters – Bruce, Mellencamp, and Tom Petty fits in there for me. Some Seger, too. But I have lots of favorites in various styles –Jim Carroll (Catholic Boy!) And the Boomtown Rats, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Billy Idol, Del Amitri, Thin Lizzy, The Cult (not that wussy Blue Oyster Cult – I’m talking Pure Cult Cult! Love Removal Machine! She Sells Sanctuary!) Lately I listen to a lot of The Hold Steady and The Gaslight Anthem.

How long have you been a musician?

I started in fourth grade on the slide trombone (insert joke here). When I was in high school, a friend taught me some guitar chords and we were off and running. I think “Born to Run” was the first song I learned to play beginning to end. I am ambitious like that.

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

The Dante Band (classic rock). Steel River 3 (stripped-down folk and mostly acoustic). What’s that, you haven’t heard of them? I’m also working on a 5 song EP of my own songs – my first original product in nearly 20 years.

Your day job?

Freelance medical writer and editor. A great freelance writing gig, and it took a long time to get here.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

In my early 20s, I was briefly a banquet server at a supposedly posh country club in a Cleveland suburb. Nice place if not for the owner, who would smile his greasy head off among the guests, then barge into the kitchen area – cursing the employees out at the top of his lungs. A grown-ass man kicking around milk crates, throwing temper tantrums! And the manager was so surprised when I quit.

1 item from your bucket list?

Own a dog that outweighs me.

Something people would not guess by looking at you?

I have no fingerprints – ask the Colorado Department of Education and the Adams County police. Only with great regret am I passing up a life of crime.

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Jeff Wingo — Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

John and I have a pretty long history of playing together in multiple bands, and we have a chemistry performing together that you don’t come across every day. He and I formed the band as a way to play the music that we love, and to play up the strengths that we each bring to table.

Favorite Bruce song?

I would have to say that my favorite song from the Boss is “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” I actually fell into this song backwards. The first time I heard it, it was the version that Rage Against the Machine did. I couldn’t get over how moving the lyrics were for a group that rarely tells a story. When I found out that it was originally a Bruce song, I couldn’t stop listening to the original.

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

I have always been a big fan of music that is raw and unpolished, with the emotion behind it doing most of the work. The Nebraska album is the epitome of that to me. Every time I sit and listen to any songs off that album I hear another “error” that adds to the overall charm of it. Behind it all, the story and the emotion behind each song are what it all comes back to, for me.

Other artists you like/follow?

My musical tastes are all over the map, from rap to punk to metal to classic rock. Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain and Les Claypool are always in heavy rotation in my IPod, all for different reasons.

How long have you been a musician?

I was, more or less, born a musician. But it wasn’t until my early teen years that I started really working hard at it. I think my first time performing in front of an audience was about 20 years ago. It’s all a blur.

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

I have my own YouTube channel where I play and sing some of my favorite song and do requests. Shameless promotion, I know.  🙂

Your day job?

I work for a financial firm as a pseudo-executive number cruncher/dreamer.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

Well, there was that one time on the street corner… What I meant to say was that managing a fast food pizza place on New Year’s Eve was just about as horrible as it sounds.

1 item from your bucket list?

Playing on the stage at Red Rocks is really high on my Bucket List. Some of my favorite concerts I have ever seen were there, when the moon is full and it’s getting dark. Words can’t even describe that feeling.

Something people would not guess by looking at you?

I teach music lessons on over 10 different instruments. And, at any moment, I usually have more technology on me than NASA had when they landed on the moon.

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Marc the Shark — Bass Guitar

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

Over the years I’ve developed a love for the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. This wasn’t the case when they first came out. I was younger and didn’t understand the music. Learning a lot of my playing chops from living down South, I wasn’t used to the musical arrangements and voicings Springsteen’s music has. I guess it was because I never played any of it in all the different bands I played in. Once I experienced a live Springsteen concert, that all changed. It’s been a long time getting here. The chemistry with Trouble is here; it’s not just the playing. It’s got to be an orchestra with storytelling.

Favorite Bruce song?

Sorry, don’t have one. The music and lyrics affect everybody in their own good way.

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

First Bruce show I ever went to was at Mile High Stadium in Denver. I experienced the music and magic of a gathering of Springsteen fans, and how he and the band respond to an audience.

Other artists you like/follow?

I listen to as many artists as possible, and to many styles of music. As a player, I’ve always tried to expose myself to as many playing possibilities as I could. There’s always something to learn from every player and style of music – including swing and Hawaiian, both of which I’ve done.

How long have you been a musician?

Been playing music since I was 10 years old. At around 18, I noticed there were a hell of a lot of guitar players, and not many bass players. Because of necessity, I changed to bass!

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

In the mid-70s, while living in Houston, I got the chance to back up Roy Head at a skating rink show outside of Houston. In 1965, Roy sold over 4 million copies of “Treat Her Right.” Man, that was the closest thing to backing Elvis. Roy could just light up an audience. Later, with another band, I got to open a concert in Houston for the B-52s, playing for more than 15,000 people.

Your day job?

I work at the airport. Everybody gets to go somewhere but me. But I’ve seen it all, heard it all.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

Having to pick strawberries for spending money during summer vacation when I was young.

1 item from your bucket list?

Filling in for Bruce’s bass player Gary Tallent when he misses the bus for the next Springsteen show. Just one night is all I ask!

Also, I want to touch everything that has a sign on it saying “Do Not Touch.”

Something people would not guess by looking at you?

I love to fish. As kids, my friends and I used to go out and fish for small sharks where we lived. Thus the name, Marc the Shark.

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Billy Rock — Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

I had the opportunity to work with John and Jeff in the past. It was a short but fun and enjoyable time. I knew this project would also be a lot of fun once we got this material tight, and I was able to add my own flair to the mix. And who doesn’t love some good old Bruce?

Favorite Bruce song?

It’s a tossup: “Thunder Road,” “Blinded by the Light,” “Human Touch,” or “Spirit in the Night.” If I had to pick one, it would be “Human Touch.” That song is just so deep on so many levels.

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

Definitely Born to Run. I had a girlfriend back in high school who listened to that album all the time. It brings back some good memories for me.

Other artists you like/follow?

I absolutely love blues and blues rock. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. Need I say more?

How long have you been a musician?

I’ve been playing in bands since I was in high school. I guess it’s been about 35 years. Don’t think I’ll ever stop – just too much fun.

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

I played with a country and vintage rock and roll band called Eldorado for about 7 years. We played all over Colorado and parts of Kansas and Nebraska. One night in Sterling, Colorado, we got to share the stage with the rock band Slaughter. That was a kick-ass time! I’ve got pictures of Mark Slaughter playing my Strat. Plus I’ve jammed with and sat in with some other bands over the years.

Your day job?

I’ve been driving trucks for the past 20 years.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

Probably pizza cook, late shift. I don’t like to be cooped up indoors that long. I like getting outside.

1 item from your bucket list?

Write a hit song – that would be awesome. Or win the lotto – that would be cool too.

Something people would not guess by looking at you?

I met Joan Jett when I was 14, at the Budget Tapes and Records on Evans and Downing. She was playing with the Runaways at the time. I talked to her for about 10 minutes. In other news, a nun once spanked me with a ruler.

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Steve Meier — Keyboards

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

Springsteen’s sound is distinctive, and many of his songs have these legendary piano and organ parts and that are a feast for any keyboard player. For me, this is an opportunity to have great fun, and hone my own keyboard playing skills. Trouble in the Heartland, like any great tribute band, puts the music first and brings a legendary sound to life. Springsteen is an American music icon who ranks right up there with Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Bob Dylan.

Favorite Bruce song?

Bruce has so many great songs that for me to say I love one over the others is tough, but “Born to Run” and evokes a certain nostalgia for me and takes me back to when I was in the prime of my own youth looking at that long road ahead of me. Lyrics in Springsteen’s songs speak to me in a very personal way.

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

I remember listening to the record album The River over and over again. The first reason was that it was a double record, so this made it twice as good. The second reason was that I could crank “Cadillac Ranch” up really loud on my dad’s new stereo.

Other artists you like/follow?

It depends and the time of day and the day of the week, as my playlist is quite large. I listen to classical music. There is a place in my heart for the legends from the jazz and blues era, and the classic sounds of Sinatra, Nat King Cole, or the likes of Tony Bennett. I love all songs by the Beatles as a group or as solo artists. I like the keyboard sounds of progressive rock bands from the 70’s like YES and Electric Light Orchestra. I appreciate classic folk rock like the Eagles or CSN, and also jam to the synthesizer sounds of 80’s music, be it Split Enz, Roxy Music, The Fixx, Howard Jones, or Tears for Fears. I also dig the big arena rock bands like The Who, The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones, Def Leppard, Queen, the Police, Heart, Journey, Foreigner, STYX, or U2. I also praise the great songwriting and performing talents of solo artists like Billy Joel, Elton John, Bob Seger, or Sting. There are too many more to list, as my list goes on and on.

How long have you been a musician?

I started formal piano lessons in the 4th grade, and those lasted for 7 years. Then I started to play more for my own pleasure and started to imitate the keyboard sounds I heard on the radio. I also picked up the guitar after college, and I can do the occasional Johnny Cash impression.

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

I have played with a Christian rock and worship band called The Fishtones for about the last 10 years. That band has morphed over the years as different members have come and gone. I have also composed a few original songs on my own.

Your day job?

I have taught English and American literature, college level composition, the arts and humanities, journalism, video production, and film studies, all at the high school level in Jefferson County for the past 20 years. Go ahead, ask me a question about Hamlet.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

Believe it or not, back in the early 1980’s I was vacuum cleaner demonstrator/salesman in a warehouse store. Now that was a job that really sucked.

1 item from your bucket list?

To travel to the Greece and visit the Parthenon.

Something people would not guess by looking at you?

The first is I grew up in the heartland: Aurora, Illinois, and was a huge Chicago Cubs and Ernie Banks fan when I was a kid. Also, I love to ski, bike, and take my yellow lab jogging along the South Platte River.

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John Battista — Saxophone

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

I’ve always loved Bruce’s music and especially Clarence Clemons’ powerful sound on the sax – so a chance to play all Clarence’s famous parts was too good to pass up.

Favorite Bruce song?

That’s a hard one to narrow down – if I have to choose one I’ve got to go with “Rosalita.”

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

Another hard one – depends on what kind of mood I’m in. I’ll blast “Born to Run” in the car quite a bit – to sit and listen I like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (even though there isn’t much sax).

Other artists you like/follow?

I listen to a lot of music – kind of an eclectic mix. Lately I’ve been getting into jazz funk – Galactic, Lettuce, James Taylor Quartet, some older Jaco Pastorius stuff.

How long have you been a musician?

I started playing sax in 5th grade and never looked back – so a long time!

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

I’ve played with some other Colorado bands (Big Bang, The Legendary 4nikators, Swing City Boulder). I got to be in the band backing up the Drifters and the Coasters when they came to Denver – playing all the famous old sax parts (like “yakety yak”) – that was a blast!

Your day job?

I design medical devices – if you’ve ever been to the emergency room you’ve probably had one of my devices used on you!

Worst job you’ve ever had?

I was a janitor at IBM one summer (in New York where I grew up). They janitors had this hazing ritual they put everyone through – after you had cleaned a room they would come and trash it. Also it wasn’t just ordinary trash we had to clean up – it was all the waste product of making silicon chips. I didn’t last long in that job – I think I quit after a week.

1 item from your bucket list?

To own a Ferrari Dino.

2 things people would not guess by looking at you?

That I play kick ass saxophone (I kind of look like a nerdy engineer most of the time).

I’m also a pretty good cook – I built a wood-fired oven in my backyard to perfect my pizza Napolitana.

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Jeff Moody — Drums, Backing Vocals

Why did you join Trouble in the Heartland?

I found the musical talent and potential in this band very promising and they were my age (AARP eligible).

Favorite Bruce song?

I have many Bruce favs but one I wasn’t familiar with that I was introduced to and excited about playing is Kitty’s Back. I find it outside the realm of typical Bruce style of writing. Yah baby!

Favorite Bruce album or show memory?

Bruce just keeps bringing it to his live performances. I really enjoyed his last show at Hyde Park in New York City.

Other artists you like/follow?

As a pro musician, I enjoy all genres of music except rap! Rap is CRAP!

How long have you been a musician?

I went pro as a drummer at the age of 18, so that adds up to ……………I’m still calculating…………wait for it………..almost there………..32 rhythmic years!

What other interesting or notable musical projects have you worked on?

My biggest show was a Viking-Packer half-time show at the Minneapolis Metrodome for 62,000 people. I couldn’t hit my drums hard enough.

Your day job?

Gainfully employed as a subcontractor for 2 companies.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

A job is a job. Glass always half full, especially when “on the job.”

1 item from your bucket list?

To be the main prop in an all-girl little-person orgy! Bring it my tiny friends!

2 things people would not guess by looking at you?

I get emotional during sad movies, and I don’t wear underwear.

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