Maestro Subgum and the Whole
Music with Teeth for People with Gums..
This fantastically creative rock/cabaret band out of Chicago is long gone, releasing their last album in 1995. Their eight studio albums have been out of print for way too long.
To remedy that, Uvulittle Records has re-mastered and has re-released all the original albums plus previously un-available live and studio material.
MAESTRO SUBGUM AND THE WHOLE : A Brief History
Maestro Subgum and the Whole is the brainchild of Beau O’Reilly, who founded the band in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 70s, then brought it to its creative peak in Chicago in the 80s and 90s. The band’s innovative sound – music with teeth for people with gums – was always a cabaret of rock, folk, and stage musical songs, strong on melody and intelligent lyrics. The songs were usually topical, though they never shied away from the personal politics of love and life.
Originally centered on strong trio vocals and a full piano sound (provided by first Kit Keasey, then Joe Huppert, then Michael Greenberg), the band has ranged from primarily acoustic to driving electric to the best known Maestro era featuring as many as 7 singers and a horn section. While quite an array of musicians have contributed to the Maestro legacy, Beau has always kept the focus on the vocals, although many a gig ended with everybody shaking the proverbial leg. The band has also been closely associated with the Chicago Theatre scene, especially the Curious Theatre Branch and the Rhinoceros Theatre Festival.
Beau always pontificated between songs as Lefty Fizzle, the Chaplin-moustached, cane-wielding conscience of the group, and he also assigned stage names to the other band members (Jenny the Magnifire, Joe Tech, Miki da Lip, Red Ned the Flaming Messenger of Love). At its most ambitious, the group toured regionally (particularly to Madison) and even abroad, but its core audience has always been Chicago, in theatres and in clubs such as Lower Links, Phyllis’ Musical Inn, and The Lunar Cabaret.
Songs in the Maestro canon are mostly original, often written in collaboration, and largely by Beau O’Reilly, Jenny Magnus, and Michael Greenberg. The cover songs usually did not ape their originals, but instead brought fresh sounds and interpretations to tunes by Greg Brown, Michael Smith, Jonathan Richman, and even back to Vaudeville and Music Hall writers. Recordings, released on various independent labels, were mostly made during the late 80s and 90s when Beau and Jenny were the primarily singers, and Miki directed the musicians.