Imagine stepping back in time to the 1920′s when ragtime-based traditional jazz was the thing, fresh and original, rollicking, funny, tragic and, in essence, a party waiting to happen, and you got Hobo Paradise, a super band of the Bay Area’s finest horn players and rhythm section.
The band consists of: JL Stiles on guitar and vocals, Ben Bernstein on stand up bass, Mike Stevens on drums, Mike Rinta on trombone, Doug Ellington on trumpet and Snakebite on clarinet/sax.
Founder of the band and bandleader, JL Stiles, fingerpicks the ragtime style like he was born of the era and croons it with authority. His guitar takes the role of piano with his unique thumb-rolling stride style few can duplicate. Stiles under his own name has opened for BB King, the late Etta James, JJ Cale and many others and headlines the clubs in the Bay Area and beyond.
Mike Rinta, the Bay Area’s top arranger, can play the trombone with more range and fluidity than most trumpeters and he brings a New Orleans feel that is a great foil for the swanky Ellington sound. Mike’s resume includes playing or recording with Sly & The Family Stone, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Bernie Worrell (Parliament), John Lee Hooker Jr. and many others.
As for Doug Ellington, great nephew of Duke, there is something to genetics as Doug is very much his own man on the trumpet and plays with a controlled reckless abandon that paints a perma-smile on all within earshot. Ellington’s own New Urban Groove has also been a successful ensemble on its own and the man hardly has a minute to himself for all the people calling on him for his trumpeting.
Ben Bernstein is the Bay Area’s most celebrated string bass player and his numerous tenures included a few years with New Monsoon. Bernstein’s playful nature shines in this outfit with surprising bass lines that stop the crowd. Once Bernstein digs into the bass, it’s all over; the party can only be stopped by a police raid and actually, they’re liable to join the party as well.
Ben’s partner-in-crime, Mike Stevens, plays with a loose funky feel that has all the tone of the great drummers on those old recordings we love so dearly. Fun and unpredictable yet solid and steady as they come, Stevens can make rhythm out of anything, including any object that happens to be on stage, clickety-clacking his way through the often ironic and tragic fun of the Hobo repertoire.
The last piece of the puzzle, Snakebite, is a New Orleans native who recently relocated to the Bay Area. A model and actor as well, Snakebite has all the presence to back up his magical playing. Recently he played the Mystic Theater in Petaluma as part of the Mardis Gras band Rhythmtown-jive. Snakebite stays quite busy as word has quickly spread of his talents.