Garden Party Band
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Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

GENE ACKMANN plays keyboards, guitar, bass guitar and sings. Gene has been playing music professionally since 1978. He lists Rick Nelson, Johnny Rivers, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry, Don Henley, Vince Gill, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Peek, and Paul McCartney as his influences. Gene is a founding and current member of Butch Wax & The Hollywood’s and Garden Party. He previously played in Ruckus, Windfall, The Billy Peek Band, Route 66, and The Big Chill.

I love the stuff we are doing in Garden Party and it’s great having everyone sing and I love the great harmonies.  Richie, Liz, Ed, John, Sonny, and Scotty are great band mates and friends and we have a blast playing together! Butch Wax is still the main band but it’s a lot of fun to go out and play some smaller shows and do a bunch of Oldies, California Country Rock, and Rockabilly!

Gene Ackmann
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

LIZ HENDERSON is no stranger to the stage. By high school graduation, she had performed in several musicals and had appeared at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. She attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and then moved to Nashville where she had the opportunity to sing and dance in shows at Opryland USA and perform with Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee, and other country music legends on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  Liz moved back to her hometown of St. Louis to be closer to family, raise her two (now teenage) kids and work with her mom in real estate for Coldwell Banker Gundaker. 

Liz has been singing in St. Louis for several years now and joined Butch Wax & the Hollywoods and Garden Party in the fall of 2016. Her musical influences include Nancy Wilson, Linda Ronstadt, Anita Baker, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, Patsy Cline and Stevie Nicks. “I have met some wonderful people in my musical journey and feel privileged to be a part of two incredible St. Louis bands. I am so grateful for the gift of music and thankful for the many wonderful fans that appreciate what we do and come to hear our music.”

Liz Henderson
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

RICHIE DANIELS musical career like so many, began on February 9, 1964 when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show to a US nationwide television audience for the first time. Soon thereafter, his first performance was in front of his grade school playing a cardboard cutout guitar along with the 45 single “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”!  The “drummer” that day in grade school turned over a 5 Gallon bucket for drums and used two plastic bowling pins for sticks.  By the time high school rolled around Richie had actually learned how to play the (real) guitar and performed at high school events, eventually beginning to work in clubs around St. Louis. After a couple of bands, Richie joined a local favorite band The Facts of Life and traveled the country doing a variety of shows with them including music, comedy, dance shows from Florida to Lake Tahoe. Coming back the St. Louis, the music continued with local favorites USA the Band, and The Blast. The Blast eventually migrated to Nashville to tour with some of the biggest country artists of the day including Randy Travis, Martina McBride, and the legendary George Jones.

After that it was time to come home and Richie joined longtime St. Louis favorite Fantasy.  Richie was with Fantasy for nearly 17 years playing with some of St. Louis’ greatest musicians including trumpet master Jim Manley.  Richie also played with another local mainstay Mack’s Creek that kept him busy, as well as with longtime friend and co-founder of the band Mama’s Pride, the great Danny Liston.   Richie and Danny did several memorable performances including the Sheldon Theater and opening for the late great Chuck Berry at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill.

“I’ve had a long and wonderful career doing what I love, but with Butch Wax and now Garden Party, it feels all fresh and new again! I’m thrilled to be playing with some of the Midwest’s finest!”

Richie Daniels
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

ED CALLISON started in the music business in his 7th grade marching band as a drummer. He bought his first drum set in the 8th grade and started singing and playing in a few bands including a band with his 3 brothers. The band “Travis” was later formed in 1971 with his brother Richie and a friend from high school, Jon Gillespie. After many high school dances, concerts, battle of the bands, wedding receptions, and Chuck Berry Park gigs, Ed broke off and formed another band called Kasper. He recorded an album with Kasper and after 2 years, the band split and he took a long break from the music business.  In the mid 90’s, Ed, Richie and Jon started a new band called "Blue" and performed all around Missouri and Illinois on almost every weekend throughout the next several years. 

Early musical influences for Ed were The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Free, Bad Company, Trapeze, Rod Stewart, Elvis, The Guess Who, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Berry, Eagles, Hall and Oates, Chicago, Bread, and anything Motown.  Later influences were Aerosmith, ACDC, Collective Soul, Luther Vandross, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt. There are not a whole lot of genres of music that I have not been influenced by over my lifetime and I love to perform all styles of music when possible and enjoy making music and singing with the Garden Party Band!

Ed Callison
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

SONNY MCGRAW was born in Kentucky and his family move to St. Louis when he was in grade school.  In the fifth grade Sonny McGraw began playing saxophone and he still has his Buescher Aristocrat Alto Saxophone today.  His first choice was to play the drums, however with direction from his father that the drums were “just too damn loud,” the saxophone became the instrument of choice.  Sonny’s first public performance came in seventh grade while a member of “The Chaparrals”.  In those days every band had a car name it seemed.  The band played for the junior high school wide assembly and Sonny sang the hot tune of the day “Time Won’t Let Me ´by the Outsiders.

Through Junior High and High School, Sonny teamed up with long time friend John Orlando and a group called the “The Deuces Wild” playing anything from Weddings , Bar mitzvah’s, parties, and anything that would pay ….Another millstone in Sonny’s career was beating rival band “The Shadows “ in a battle of the bands to win an appearance on “The Charlotte Peters Show” with Stan Kann.  Sonny’s musical influences were Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears. 

In the 70’s and 80’s Sonny toured and recorded with “The Spirit of St. Louis” an 8-piece show group that performed in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and lots of small towns in between. Upon returning to St. Louis from fifteen years in Minnesota where he did not pick up the horn, Sonny joined a local group called “Trilogy” then in 1997 Hooked up with “The King of Hearts Rock n Roll Show” before taking his place in the horn section of Butch Wax and The Hollywoods.

Sonny has been blessed over the years to share the stage with performers like Dr. John, Rick Nelson, Albert King, Michael McDonald, and Billy Peek.   But the thrill of Sonny’s musical career is meeting and performing with Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson…. He is the reason we all play!!  Whether at the Shelton Concert Hall or St. Louis Cardinal home opener, St. Louis Rams rallies or playing at Johnnie’s wake alongside Bob Weir, The Kentucky Headhunters, and Peanuts Whaylam - it was a true honor to be associated with the Father of Rock ‘n Roll!

Sonny McGraw
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

JOHN VIDACAK plays guitar and sings.  John has been playing music since he was 6 years old.  “My Dad taught me the basics at that age and it has been my passion ever since.  I grew up listening to Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Rick Nelson, and of course the great Chuck Berry.  I can still remember going out on Halloween dressed as Elvis and singing Hound Dog.  Of course, that was when you actually had to perform a trick to get a treat.  As a young boy my biggest influence was Chet Atkins.  I think my Dad thought if I was going to play guitar I should learn from his personal favorite and probably one of the best in his time.  As a teenager I was more influenced by artists like Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, and The Beatles.  John has played guitar and sang with many St. Louis bands over the years including Bob Kuban, Clique, Nugget, and Walter Scott.  He also toured with the original “Up with People” show in 1970.  John is working part time with Garden Party as he recovers from a health issue and is our Production and Sequencing Guru and Recording Engineer and Producer for our CD recording projects. 

John Vidacak
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri

MIKE SCOTT plays acoustic guitar and electric guitar and sings. Mike started playing the guitar when he was in high school. Mike says his biggest musical influences first and foremost was his Dad. “He was the best guitarist I’ve ever known”. “He could pick up any guitar (or any stringed instrument) and start playing like a master!”  Mike started playing and has mainly played rhythm guitar over the years. He says “I was content to just be playing music and doing my part to make it blend.” “That helped me develop my ear which helps me with singing harmonies.” After seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show – Mike was hooked. “I was primarily raised on country music but our house was filled with such a variety of music. There was Rockabilly, Motown, Big Band, Sinatra, Dean Martin, and everything in between.  I remember my sister asking my Dad what he thought of the band CCR. After hearing Suzy Q by CCR he asked my sister to play it again and he played along with it note for note on guitar! His reply was “that’s some good stuff!”  “Those memories are priceless and I’m so blessed to be raised with the appreciation of such a variety and love of music!” “My view of music is – if it moves me, I like it.” Mike’s other big musical influences were POCO, Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, Allman Brothers, and Eric Clapton.

Mike Scott
Garden Party Band - St. Louis, Missouri
Performing California Country Rock, Oldies, and Classic Country - from The Eagles, Rick Nelson, Patsy Cline, Vince Gill,
Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Rivers, Elvis, Brooks & Dunn, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dwight Yoakam, Tammy Wynette,
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, and More!