Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience
Ever heard of a big band covering Spiderman? Get ready, my friend.
We’re happy to introduce you to what we call the new evolution of big band music – born of rebellion – and we owe it to Sinatra to keep that evolution alive and kicking.
How good are we? Glad you asked.
We have musicians who have toured with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and New Kids on the Block as well as Music Hall of Fame inductees. This group is nothing if not upfront: it’s one of those rare cases where everything you need to know is right in the name:
You’ve got Shaun Johnson, an Emmy-winning singer/songwriter who’s sold nearly two million albums as part of the nationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa.
Then there’s the big band sound. Few acts can channel Sinatra as he softly croons about lost love, inhabit Citizen Cope as he belts one out, and then segue into original songwriting without any indication that these musicians, these eras, and these styles were ever anything but destined to go together.
Finally there’s the experience. Our sound is centered on innovation to ensure that while each performance is an experience, no two experiences are exactly the same. And let’s face it: being relatively new to the game not only means BBE has a fresh sound, but that your audiences can hear that sound as it develops.
Looking for a group heavily influenced by the big band era, but which never – not for one moment – feels as if it lives anywhere but the present? Live with us.
More on the Story of the Big Band Experience:
Shaun Johnson, an Emmy-winning singer/songwriter, seemed destined for a life of music from the very beginning. “One of my earliest memories,” he says, “is of performing at state fair talent shows with my little sister. We’d sing Sonny and Cher songs, a cappella, when neither of us was quite tall enough to reach the microphone.”
Originally from the small town of Saint Joseph, Iowa, Shaun attended Saint John’s University before settling in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he began his career with the nationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa. This quartet has sold nearly two million albums independently and has been featured in Newsweek and on the Today Show. Shaun is still an active member.
In 2016, Shaun put together a group featuring some of the best instrumentalists and arrangers in the Midwest– guys who’ve toured with numerous luminaries, who are Music Educators of the Year and who are integral members of collegiate jazz faculties. His vision was to create a contemporary big band sound with a pop flair, honoring legends like Frank Sinatra, with a nod to Michael Bublé, while giving the music his own twist – performing songs ranging from the “Spiderman Theme” to increasingly popular original work.
The initial holiday tour received such overwhelming feedback that another, expanded holiday tour was undertaken the following year. The proceeds from those first, small tours were subsequently donated to local charities. In 2018, with increased presenter and fan demand, the BBE added even more cities to the holiday tour and for the first time, began accepting regular season shows which expanded rapidly across the U.S.
Look for the BBE’s very first PBS special, “Spirit of the Season,” to air across North America as well as the Big Band Experience’s very first studio recording, “Capitol,” which garnered a top 5 debut on the Billboard Jazz Chart.
Shaun Johnson is an Emmy Award-winning singer/songwriter whose compositions have been an integral part of more than two million independently sold albums. He has conducted hundreds of high school and collegiate vocal master classes as well as performed more than 2,500 shows. Shaun has entertained with Jay Leno, been featured in Newsweek, and can now be seen across the United States in the Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience’s first PBS television special airing through 2016. www.bigbandexperience.com
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet – Aaron Moe serves as chair of the music department at Normandale Community College. He actively works as a clinician and adjudicator for music festivals and educational organizations, holds a Master of Music degree in jazz pedagogy/ performance, and is a two-time recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching Award. Aaron has appeared with the Wynton Marsalis Septet and has performed with such artists as Dave Pietro, Earth Wind and Fire, and Rufus Reid.
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Jeff Carver is a sought-after studio musician as well as an in-demand solo artist. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education and conducts award-winning trumpet and brass educational master classes. He also maintains a private studio and is currently an artist/educator for Jupiter Music and Band Instruments. www.jeffcarvermusic.com
Piano – Theo Brown creates as a poet, percussionist, spoken word artist, singer/songwriter, and pianist. Inspired by a classically-trained pianist/organist mother and an Afro-Cuban/ West-African percussionist father, he studied classical voice at Xavier University in Louisiana and later toured with classical and jazz ensembles. Theo regularly performs with the Bossa Nova/ Jazz/Samba project, “Ticket to Brasil,” the chorus of the Minnesota Opera Company, and the R & B tinged ensemble, “The Not Guilty Band.” www.theobrownmusic.com
Bass – Jim Bierma hails from Des Moines, Iowa, where he honed his jazz skills with the legendary Irene Myles Trio for seventeen years. Jim holds a Master of Science degree in counseling and is an award-winning counselor in schools and homeless shelters, as well as an in-demand, nationally-known speaker. He currently teaches counseling at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Drum/Percussion – David Stanoch is a founding member of the percussion faculty at McNally Smith College of Music and renowned clinician and author. He has performed with a truly diverse list of artists including Doc Severinsen, Bonnie Raitt, Don Rickles, New Kids on the Block, Robert Goulet, and the Minnesota Orchestra. www.rhythmelodic.com
Tenor Saxophone – Ronny Loew brings a soulful sound with a music degree from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Ronny has worldwide touring experience – performing at numerous jazz festivals around the country (including the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles) and as a freelance saxophone player with Minneapolis bands: Mick Sterling and the Studd Brothers, the Casablanca Orchestra, Patty Peterson and Friends, and his own Ronny Loew Band. www.about.me/ronnyloew
Trombone – Dave Stamps currently serves as assistant professor of jazz/composition at Gustavus Adolphus College. He has written for the Colorado and Nebraska Jazz orchestras, performed around the world from the Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland) to Festival Jazz en Lima (Peru), and taught in residency at the National University of Music in Bucharest, Romania. www.davestamps.com
Tenor Saxophone, Flute (alternate) – Conrad Miska has taught instrumental music for 35 years. Currently, he serves as Eagan High School’s music department chairperson where he teaches woodwinds as well as directs jazz ensembles and concert bands. Conrad is in demand as a clinician and music adjudicator for woodwinds, concert bands and jazz ensembles throughout the Midwest.
Trombone (alternate) – Dave Budimir works as a freelance musician, arranger and composer in the Twin Cities area. Dave tours with Lorie Line and her Pop Chamber Orchestra and has also performed with numerous national acts including: Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Wayne Newton, Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, and Bobby Vinton.
The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience works with multiple arrangers. Of note: Dean Sorenson is an associate professor and director of jazz studies at the University of Minnesota as well as a prolific and highly sought-after composer, arranger, trombonist, educator, and clinician. He received his Bachelor’s degree in trombone performance from the University of Minnesota and his Master’s degree in jazz arranging and composition from the Eastman School of Music. He also maintains a full schedule of concert and recording dates as a Yamaha performing artist and has composed and arranged for numerous ensembles including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Airmen of Note, the United States Air Force Band, the United States Navy Band, and the Minnesota Orchestra. www.deansorensonmusic.com.
The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience is a rare, newcomer to traditional pop – fusing a big band spirit with an inventive edge – and garnering a top 5 Billboard spot with the release of their first album. Shaun, an Emmy award-winning crooner (and lead singer of the internationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa) indelibly stamps vocal jazz and swing with a contemporary punch – to the delight of both traditionalists and newcomers – emerging as an original voice in the continuing tradition of the American vocalist.
Shaun Johnson & The Big Band Experience Fast Facts
Shaun Johnson – Lead Vocals (Saint John’s University)
Aaron Moe – Alto Saxophone (Chair of the Music Department, Normandale Community College)
Jeff Carver – Trumpet (Buena Vista University)
David Stamps – Trombone (Assistant Professor of Jazz/Composition, Gustavus Adolphus College)
Ronny Loew – Tenor Saxophone (Berklee College of Music)
David Stanoch – Percussion (Percussion Faculty, McNally Smith College of Music)
Theodore Brown – Piano (Music Education/Opera, Xavier University)
Jim Bierma – Bass (Professor, University of Minnesota)
The Big Band Experience can be seen on their very own, nationally televised PBS television special, “The Spirit of the Season.”
The band’s debut album, “Capitol,” debuted at #5 on the Billboard Jazz Chart.
Shaun won his first Emmy in the “Musical Composition/Arrangement” category.
Shaun recently won two Independent Grammys for “Best Original Holiday Song” and “Best Pop Song” out of 650,000 entries worldwide.
Philanthropic efforts include: collaborations with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen, Lunch is Served, and Wishes&More, as well as appearances for 360 Communities, Music in the Schools, the Make A Wish Foundation and numerous other charities.
Shaun has shared the stage with Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Garrison Keillor, among others.
Shaun’s original songs, arrangements and albums have won numerous awards for best pop album, gospel song and Christmas original and have been featured on television and in movies.
Shaun’s original holiday song, “Sno,” is featured on the “12 Dogs of Christmas” (the most popular Christmas video sold at Wal-Mart).
Significant performances in the last 3 years include: the Ames Center, Burnsville, MN; Levitt Shell, Memphis, TN, Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, MN, with the SD Symphony at the Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, SD; the Hoyt Sherman Theater, Des Moines, IA; the State Theater, Eau Claire, WI; the Orpheum Theater, Sioux City, IA; the Freeman Stage at Bayside, Selbyville, DE; with the Rochester Symphony at the Mayo Civic Center, Rochester, MN, etc.
Shaun has entertained at numerous national corporate events including: Jostens, Tastefully Simple, Thrivent Financial, Winnebago, and General Mills.
He has performed the Star Spangled Banner for national Republican and Democratic events, former presidents, the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, the Chicago Bears, the NY Mets, the National 4th of July Celebration at Mount Rushmore, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx and the Saint Paul Saints to name a few.
National media appearances include: Newsweek, Country Weekly and MediaStyle magazines, NBC’s Today Show, A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, Steve & DC (nationally syndicated radio show) and others.