How it all came together
The Roadside Poets are as much the story of a long overdue reunion of friends and collaborators as they are a great Americana rock band. Founder Peter Ross ( guitar, vox, songwriter, co-producer) and cohort Tommy Lepano (vox, piano) released an album in 1997 as members of Tri-State alt rock heroes, NC-17, and broke up over the typical tensions of personality and youth. In the thirteen years since, both have enjoyed musical and personal successes, making records and building families of their own, but in the back of their hearts both also felt that their original collaboration had left a potential unfulfilled.
The PlayersTommy Lepano- Lead Vocals / Piano / Organ
Tommy started signing and playing piano at the early age of 4 but did not begin his songwriting career until 18.
Tommy’s musical abilities have taken shape in many different styles including a folk trio, new age pianist and even a Baptist choir musical director. In 1997, he and Peter Ross’ alternative rock band NC-17 released the recording “Problems”. In 2005, Tommy put forth 6 of his own piano pieces in an EP entitled “Picturebook”.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, he now calls New Jersey home where he lives with his wife Christina and son Gabriel.
Peter Ross- Guitars / Vocals
He writes and co-produces and occasionally plays guitar and sings when the mood is right! Peter has written for, produced or performed with many national acts including former American Idol top 10 contestants, BMG recording artists Dust To Dust, and indie sensations 'The Mellancholies". Peter wrote this album from a very personal place with many family oriented themes. His music has been heard in many motion pictures, video games, and television shows throughout the years.
Meredith Rachel - Violin
Hailing from Evanston, IL, Meredith studied classical violin with Ingrid Nevinger of Chicago, IL from elementary school through high school, and continued her studies with Dr. Melissa Knecht at Hillsdale College. Her college studies were focused on romantic and early 20th century violin works by Wieniawski, Kreisler, Smetna, and R. Vaughn-Williams. Not one to be constrained creatively, she has balanced her classical education with various forays into alternative genres, including, but not limited to: Irish Traditional Music, American Folk, Early and Renaissance Music, trip-hop, as well as rock 'n' roll. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn as both a musician and fine artist.
John Besser- Drums/Percussion
Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, John has been playing drums since he was 5 years old. A natural born drummer, all he needed was pots and pans and Kiss records. By age 10 he played his first live gig and he has never looked back. Although mostly self-taught, John has studied with Nicky Capozzi (White Lion) and drum legend, Joe Morello. John has performed with many artists across the USA, live as well as session work out of his studio in NY. John's playing blends many styles and gives the music a soulful pulse that is undeniably unique.
Peter Kelly- Guitars/Vocals
From Yonkers, NY, Peter began playing guitar at the age of ten.
By thirteen he was performing with an all kids 50's/60's cover band where he opened for acts such as the Coasters, the Shirelles, and the Spinners. After high school he relocated to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music where he received a partial scholarship and graduated with a degree in Music Performance. After graduation he formed the band Hemenway and headed back to New York. Along with 3 cd's and regional radio and college radio play, Hemenway racked up a number of notable achievements. Hemenway worked alongside the likes of Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein, Skip Carlton (father/former manager of Vanessa Carlton), Ari Goldstein of Goldstein Communications, producer Mike Jackson (Christina Aguilera), producer Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday), Rusted Root, the Lovin' Spoonful, and WVOX personality Aaron Kershaw. Peter also spent some time playing guitar for 80's star Shannon who is best known for her hits "Let the Music Play" and "Give Me Tonight." Peter continues to maintain a career as a solo singer/ songwriter/guitarist along with a number of other musical endeavors.
Jamie Rae- Vocals/ Guitar
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jamie Rae moved to New York City to pursue a career in music. Along with writing and recording, she has performed with a wide variety of artists including the legendary Chubby Checker, Donavan, Moby and The Les Paul Trio. She has spent many hours traveling with the USO saluting the brave men and women of our armed forces and is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. As well as singing with the "Roadside Poets," she can be seen on stage as one of the infamous "Death Threats" as a part of NYC's soulful, vintage, blues, rock band "The Little Death" and is currently in the studio working on her solo record to be released sometime next year.
Craig Kiell- Bass Guitar / Vocals
A poet who was born to play Bass, Craig Kiell was raised on Motown, the British invasion and Bruce Lee. At a time when living in Brooklyn meant making a choice between music or joining the street gangs, Craig fell under the spell of the low end when he was introduced to his first Fender bass. He put many an hour of his youth into the school orchestra, playing at every party he possibly could trading licks with drummers and fellow songsmiths. He’s played with Josh Silver of Type-O-Negative, 80’s band Ztoyz signed to Vigin records (whose first single was covered by Dee Snider), 90’s Cult band Fat Bastid, The Arlene Grocery band, Rubix Kube, Melle Melle, and Andrew Dice Clay. Other credits include touring nationwide and opening for Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Ratt, the Ramones, and more. His songs have appeared in independent films, Off Broadway plays, and commercials. Not many people can say they’ve been doing what they love to do for over 30 years, but Craig –at home with the Unforgettable Fire family for nearly a decade - certainly can.