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The Retrobates

Mylos “Boogie” Sonka, the Retrobates trail boss, plays both steel and standard guitars, as well as the fiddle and tiple. He sings all vocal parts, though seldom at once. He has been an ace fancy yodeler since the tragic barbed-wire high jump accident. His main interest is western swing music, though back in the day he performed with bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, toured up and down the West Coast with The Frank Wakefield Band, and co- founded High Country. He played with the jump vocal swing group On the Air over the years, and these days he’s also chopping Freddie Green-style rhythm guitar with the 17-piece Ray Simpson Big Band. He was recently inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame.

Emily “Zee Zee” Bonn leads her own band, Emily Bonn and the Vivants, and met the Retrobates backstage when they shared billing at a festival. They got to jamming and soon discovered she wanted to sing more swing and the Retrobates wanted her in their big-band-style harmony mix. Emily honed her original songs from busking in San Francisco BART stations to touring Europe in 2010 with The Vivants. She now makes frequent appearances in Bay Area clubs and festivals. As a featured vocalist with the Lone Star Retrobates, she finds inspiration from such pre-rock legends as Bob Wills, The Boswell Sisters and Louis Jordan.

“Fiddle” Ray Landsberg, our musical professor, is a pint-sized saddle pal with ten gallons of talent. He has played with many well-known jazz and country artists. In the jazz field these have included Bart Bales, Dick Oxtot, Barbara Lashley, and Norma Teagarden. In country: Pat Cloud, Rhythm on the Range, and Fred Maddox. He also produced and appeared on the Melissa Collard CD, Time Changes Everything. Ray's fiddling has been influenced by Bob Wills and Louis Armstrong. His deadpan humor, often impossible to detect, is featured on Mal Sharpe's comedy record, The Meaning of Life, on Rhino Records. He is not on a record with Norton Buffalo but met him once. Recently Ray has recorded with Paul Mehling's Hot Club of San Francisco, Dan Hicks, the Monogram Boys, and the San Francisco Starlight Orchestra.

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The Lone Star Retrobates is a boot-scootin’ wingtips-flyin’ dance band specializing in authentic West Coast Swing. If Jazz is America’s musical taproot, then this roadhouse-swing fusion is its west-facing branch. Featuring trumpet, sax, twin fiddles, both standard and pedal steel guitars, drums and standup bass, rich four- and five-part vocal harmonies and even trick yodeling on demand, the Retrobates sashay from hot swing to honkytonk. Let’s say Ella and The Inkspots were to gig with Billy Jack Wills at the corner of Louis Jordan and Ray Price, and say Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers were sitting in — that’s the Retrobates in a nutshell

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