Happy Savage began in the early 1990s when
guitarist and songwriter Luke Painter began jamming with bassist
Larry Penoza. They played their first gig in 1996, at the Blue
Moon in Seattle, with Jeff Fried on keys and Mark Drake on drums.
The Happy Savage mix of open jams, dance grooves, and great original
pop songs -- with themes of peace, love, and nature -- found
itself at home in the Pacific Northwest. Happy Savage performed
for about 2 years before teaming up with vocalist/songwriter
Beth Collins, and percussionist Martin Goldstein. In 2001, Jeff
Fried left Happy Savage to pursue other musical projects, and
he was replaced by Bruce Johnston on keys and guitar. In 2002,
Happy Savage began playing some shows without Beth Collins. Michelle
Dedman took over as vocalist for Happy Savage, sharing lead vocals
and harmonies with Luke Painter. Jennifer Anspach also joined
the band as a vocalist in 2002.
Luke Painter (guitar, vocals) moved to
Seattle from Texas, where he played gospel, reggae, and psychedelic
rock, in the Austin music scene. Luke writes most of the original
songs for the band. Mark Drake (drums) grew up with the rock
and folk rock of the 60's and 70's and now spends much of his
time playing jazz. He hosts a popular series of jazz house concerts
in his Seattle home. Mark, Luke, and Michelle played together
in the Michelle Dedman Quartet from 1994 to 1998.
Larry Penoza (bass) is a fan of Phish,
the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and classic rock of the 70's.
He played with Seattle blues band Stickshift Annie before joining
Happy Savage fulltime. Percussionist Martin Goldstein's experience
in the night clubs of Guadalajara provides a solid grounding
for Latin grooves, evoking a sound at times reminiscent of Santana.
Bruce Johnston is at home on both keyboards and guitar. He played
with Seattle band Napier's Bones until they disbanded in 2000.
Bruce slid right in to the hole left by Jeff Fried, but he is
also adding his own powerful influence to the Happy Savage sound.
Michelle Dedman has been singing with Happy
Savage from time to time since the band first began in 1996.
Lately she has replaced Beth Collins as singer for Happy Savage.
In her other life, Michelle leads a trio or quartet playing traditional
jazz and swing. Reveiwers of her performances and recordings
have described her as "the best jazz vocal discovery in
years out of the Northwest", and "among the great women
singers of the decade".
In addition to these core members, Happy
Savage shows often include members of the Happy Savage extended
musical family. Jennifer Anspach has been singing with Happy
Savage since Spring of 2002, and is now a regular band member.
Alex Anderson frequently joins Happy Savage on stage with his
acoustic guitar, vocals, and original songs. Mike Saskor of Rai
has often been a guest on guitar, and can be heard jamming on
the live CD " The Ancient One". Dave Wyke, formerly
of Napier's Bones and Rai, can also be heard on this live CD
and on "Fire From The Sky". He has played many gigs
with Happy Savage on drums, and sometimes steps out with his
amazing vocals. This flexibilty reflects the spontaneous approach
Happy Savage takes to music.
In the Summer of 2002, Happy Savage was
privileged to perform with former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom
Constanten. This collaboration resulted in a CD single, "Funky
Treehugger", available as a free mp3 on the Happy Savage
The first Happy Savage CD, "Treehugger",
was released on April 22, 2000, soon followed by a live CD, "The
Ancient One", in July of 2000. A new collection of live
cuts was released in December 2001, featuring the reggae song
"Fire From The Sky" as the title cut. Happy Savage
can be found on the web at www.happysavage.com. The website includes
photos, free mp3s, and the current performance schedule.