About this Artist
Cover Story News
This local Santa Barbara band, formed in August 2011, prefer to go genreless, mixing it up with everything from original & classic rock to R&B, indie-pop to alternative blues, beatnik jazz to surf-punk. The band has had great success this past year performing along with guest jazz horn players who joined the band in several of their live local performances at SOhO Music Club, The Creekside, Carr Winery, Reds Bar & Tapas, TonyRay’s, Max’s Cocina, Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Festival, Old Spanish Days-Fiesta the California Avocado Festival and just added to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival entertainment line-up!
The quintet has also played in Los Angeles at Quixote Studios, Roxy Theatre and the Whisky A Go-Go. Altogether they are an eclectic group of musicians with diverse backgrounds and taste in music, with a couple of them returning to music after a long hiatus – one consistent underlying theme persists: the chemistry works.
Cover Story News first EP release “Meeting Alamar” debuted at the world famous Whisky A Go-Go in November 2012 and features a collaboration of original music written by drummer/percussionist Kim Schmitt. It highlights lead vocals by Evangeline Benchek and additional arrangements by bassist Steve Benchek and guitarists Phillip Tirman and Joe Purpura.
The EP offers a sampling of the band’s musical versatility pushing the boundaries of mixed genres. Four new songs showcase this inherent band trait with "Drama King" which brings together everything we crave about a surf-punk song -- blazing hot guitar solos, vehement lyrics, driving drum beats and sweet bass grooves; "In Her Smile," an acoustic inspirational ballad and “The Only Thing I Ever Did Right," is best described as a quirky, progressive-country tune. The epic single, “Find My Way” journeys through Americana, alternative-folk and discovers the courage of the heartland.
Evangeline Benchek (Vocalist):
Vangie Benchek is revisiting some of her early creative endeavors. Her musical foundation is based in classical, jazz, pop and world music, and has a deep appreciation for funk/old-school R&B. After graduating high school, she studied music at LACC, and took private lessons at Sunset Sound Studios and in West Hollywood in performance and vocal studio recording. Fifteen years later, returning to school as a mom, she continued her education, at SBCC and UCSB majoring in Film & Media Studies, but her passion for music would persist, so she also studied World Music. Now after a long hiatus, she is exploring and tapping into lessons learned from her vocal mentors in developing a style which compliments her talented band-mates and to her surprise, emerges as a rock- singer! Influences include Nina Simone, Chrissy Hines, Angelique Kudjo, Martha Reeves, Chaka Khan, Steely Dan, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Carol King, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, & Patsy Cline. She enjoys gourmet cooking and organic gardening.
Steve Benchek (Bassist):
Bassist, Steve Benchek, is self-taught and formed his long-standing LA band, ROX at the early age of 13, along with childhood friend, Robert Mesa back in 1974. Admiring jazz-fusion extraordinaires, Jaco Pastorius and Victor Wooton, Steve has developed his musical style also from studying bassists John Paul Jones, and Geezer Butler w/an affinity to Hendrix exploratory forms of blues, acid-rock & soul; he carries a deep appreciation for the music of Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Robin Trower, The Isleys, James Brown, J.J. Cale, Jean Luc Ponty, Al di Meola & Morphine. He has played with the hard rock/metal bands, Sabbatack, & Heavy Metal Harmonica.
Kim Schmitt (Drummer/background vocals):
Kim Schmitt studied w/Mike Ray of Mike's Drum Shop in Santa Barbara, CA, for 17-yrs. & played w/several bands including Nicky Shane Band, & Jade Redd. Influences include all of the instructors from Mike’s Drum Shop (now the Rockshop Academy) & the talented kids she has witnessed do amazing things on the drums! She admits Mick Fleetwood’s style has had a huge impression on her. Currently she is building her non-profit "Phyllis With A Song.” Proceeds from the organization will be donated to children's cancer research.
Edward Prado (Guitarist/background vocals):
Edward (Eddie) Prado was born and raised in New Jersey and started playing the guitar when he was 14. After graduating from the Institute of Audio Research in New York, he moved to California in 2002 to pursue a career in music. He has performed live with the Beach Boys several times as a guest guitarist, and is currently with a popular local 80's band "A Flock of Cougars" which performs at festivals, clubs and charity benefits. Prado's influences are diverse ranging from the Beatles, Iron Maiden and Freddie King, to Dean Martin. Known for his humor, Prado says his favorite color is clear and he loves long walks on short piers.
Joe Purpura (Guitarist/background vocals):
Joe Purpura has recently relocated to Santa Barbara from the Chicago North Shore. Joe has been playing guitar in bands since high school in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Over the years this has taken him through the early influences from Chuck Berry, Motown, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Van Morrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, Tom Petty, Journey, to just about any other musically exciting stuff in between. His band experience in Chicago has led to the stage of the Ravinia Festival, Street Scenes Jazz Festival, Cubby Bear and Cubby Bear North, Kingston Mines Blues Club and many other popular venues. When not jamming he is Director of Safety at Allergan Medical and a professor of Ob-Gyn at Northwestern University Medical School.
Phillip Tirman (Guitarist/background vocals):
Phillip Tirman has rediscovered his passion for playing guitar after a 20-yr. hiatus. He played in a successful rock band called Roxx in Little Rock, AR. in the 1970's & then a band called "The Epidemic" in the late 80's & early 90's in Galveston, TX where he was training to be a radiologist. He plays predominantly music from his youth & early adulthood, mainly classic rock w/a heavy British Invasion influence. He's also been working on original material. Phillip returns to his hometown every year to reunite with a few members of Roxx to play at the Alzheimer Association Annual Fundraiser.
Randy Graves (Saxophone):
Randy Graves began playing rock n’ roll saxophone long ago; before anyone heard of the Beatles. He even played on an L.P. He resumed playing sax in the current century & has recently been working on his jazz chops, off & on, by participating in the Santa Barbara City College Adult Ed. Jazz Combo Workshop. He spent many years being a software engineering manager, but doesn’t do that anymore. Instead he goes to dog shows & serves on the board of a local non-profit.
Lee Oppert (Trombone):
Lee Oppert is originally from Jacksonville, FL. He played trombone with a wide variety of musical groups there, including the Jacksonville Symphony, CinderBlock, a popular local rock band of the day, & several big bands. After a 20-yr.hiatus, part of his midlife crisis (which continues to this day) was to resume his love affair w/the trombone. Fortunately, he has a very loving & supportive wife. Since moving to Santa Barbara in 2010, he’s become an active member of the local music scene, playing w/The Dixie Daddies, The Monday Madness Big Band & several Santa Barbara City College groups, to name a few. Now he’s also playing w/The Cover Story!
Bruce McKaig (Trumpet):
Bruce grew up in Santa Barbara and started playing the trumpet at 6 years of age. At 6 ½ he traveled with a Santa Barbara marching band, the famous Bonnie Langly Caballeros. Back then, local media targeted children in parades that couldn’t keep their pants up. Bruce married his junior high school sweetheart who say’s she remembered that incident, then worked the rest of his life as a firefighter - next 35 years. Bruce played trumpet locally from grade school though college for enjoyment only and with the same trumpet given to him by Bonnie. Music inspiration- Al Hirt, Doc Severinson, Wynton Marsalis, Sergei Nakariakov, Marx Brothers.
Mark Huston: (Tenor Saxophone)
Mark is married w/ 3 children & 1 grandchild. Owner/Chef of Montecito Cafe and Jane Restaurants. He claims to be a late bloomer to the music scene, learning to play 8 or so years ago. He studies with Tom Buckner & attends SBCC Adult Ed. Jazz Combo w/ Kim Collins. As a teen, his favorite band was Steely Dan, more currently he’s been listening to a lot of Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, & Hank Mobley and many other jazz greats. He also enjoys accompanying the brass section at the Free Methodist Church during the Holidays.
TCS News would also like to thank Keith Grant, Mark McComas & Oscar Rios for working with us in the past.