John Lyons jr. of The Wiseguys, is a Native of New Orleans, who started playing the saxophone at the age of 10. He was hired for his first “paying gig” when he was twelve and hasn’t stopped since. “His sweet, full-bodied tenor sound compliments his “Funky” and “Aggressive” style of playing. John’s musical influences include Lenny Pickett and The Tower of Power, Grover Washington Jr., Tom Scott, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Michael Brecker, and Stanley Turrentine. John has shared the stage with such well known artist as Percy Sledge, Luther Kent, Irma Thomas, T. Graham Brown, Doug Kershaw, The Coasters, The Platters, and the Marvelettes, just to name a few. John has been a mainstay on the sax for many bands in South Louisiana including Magnolia, Stormy, Ernest Scott & Coffee, and Soul Vaxxination. One of the highlights was performing at the 2001 Montreal Jazz Festival for an audience of over 40,000 music lovers. Proudly featured with The Wiseguys on a permanent basis now, you can find a lot to love when you listen to John wail on his sax!
Ward Smith was a welcomed addition to The Wiseguys beginning in June of 2008. He plays tenor, baritone and soprano saxes. He played with Luther Kent and Trick Bag for many years beginning in 1979. His musical career spans over thirty years and includes live performances with well known names like Greg Alman, The Band, Brook Benton, Cab Callaway, Natalie Cole, Billy Eckstine, Robert Goulet, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Dr. John, Earl King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Brenda Lee, Wayne Newton, Bernadette Peters, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls, Boz Scaggs, Frank Sinatra Jr., Keely Smith, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Mel Torme and George Shearing, Allen Toussaint, and Big Joe Turner. He has also performed on over 45 local and national recording projects with artists such as John Cleary, Luther Kent, Snooks Eaglin, Ronnie Cole, Dr. Hook, Bryan Lee, George Porter, Jo-El Sonnier, and Steve Winwood to name a few. You can bet The Wiseguys were proud to put him in their powerhouse horn section!
Mike Genevay, our trombonist received his Bachelor and Master of Music Education degrees from Loyola University and has pursued post-graduate studies at U.N.O. and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He is currently in his 34th year at St. Clement of Rome Elementary/Middle School in Metairie, La. where he has served as Band Director, Asst. Principal and currently as Principal of the school.
Mike has been a trombonist with the Pete Fountain Band for the last 31 years and has performed throughout the country with this group. Before joining the Fountain Band, he performed with the La. Philharmonic Orchestra (New Orleans Symphony Orchestra) and numerous traditional and modern jazz groups. Although trained as a classical musician and educator, he has always enjoyed playing in various venues and musical styles. We’re happy to have the opportunity to make him a part of the “Wiseguys”.
A.J. Pittman plays trumpet with the Wiseguys as well as doingmost of the horn sections charts. He received a degree in music and shortly after traveled with a New Orleans R&B band called Tavasco whose members have since gone on to play with The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Marva Wright, The Meters, Chocolate Milk, and Allen Toussaint. After Tavasco A.J. played with Wayne Cochran and The C.C. Riders, as well as becoming their musical director. Some of the members of C.C. Riders joined A.J. in New Orelans to form Luther Kent and Trick bag. He still has an association with that group now, 30 years later. Of course A.J. played his fair share of clubs on Bourbon street and the surrounding French Quarter while also recording with the above mentioned artists. In addition to those artists he recorded with Ernie K-Doe, Barbara George, The Dukes of Dixieland, and Willie T. to name a few. A.J. is also known for his compositions and arrangements of music and has provided his talent for this for numerous bands and artists since 1972. He’s actually quite shy about bragging about his accomplishments, but he has been on several European tours with well known artists and has made many national television appearances. A.J. and the horn section lifted The Wiseguys to a higher level with his challenging horn arrangements and distinctive talent.
Jimmy Weber is the trumpet player for The Wiseguys. He joined the group when it was decide that a horn section would enhance the band tremendously. He has performed with famous New Orleans artists such as Pete Fountain, The Neville Brothers, The Meters, and Luther Kent. He also played with nationally known artists such as Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Woody Herman and many more. During his years with Pete Fountain, Jimmy had the honor of performing at The White House during both the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations as well as playing on The Tonight Show and The Dolly Parton Show. Yes, he gives autographs…The Wiseguys’ own…Jimmy Weber.
Harold Kelt is, without a doubt, a musical genius. (Hey, if you got…) After listening to a Jimmy Hendrix album at the age of 14, Harold began playing guitar. He also studied piano at Weirlein’s on Canal street. He became the organ player in a psychedelic band in 1968 but soon realized he was a string player at heart. He mastered one as well as the other so the choice was his. He eventually joined a group called “Head Parrot” in 1975 and then joined The DB’s in the late 80′s. It was with this band that he opened up 20 major concerts for REM as a lead guitarist. Though that might have been enough for your average musician, it wasn’t for the far above average Harold. He still expanded his interest in keyboards to include synthesizers and computers. He has played with other major bands like Wild Cherry, Free Spirit, DB’s, Bo Diddly, Front Street, Crossover, Big Spoon, The Groove, King Floyd, Frankie Ford, The Marveletts, Area 61, Obsession, and The Esquires. Harold’s vast musical experience also includes composing music for many local commercials. He is one of the founding members of The Wiseguys having started as their keyboard player and then making the transition to lead guitarist of the group. The Wiseguys showcases his abundant ability in a realm that is grateful for his tremendous talent… and occasionally chants the mantra “we are not worthy”.
David Mondebello, our keyboardist, has attended Southeastern University, Loyola, and Dick Grove Jazz workshop in Los Angeles, California. He played on the road with various bands from 1972 to 1975 in California, Reno, Nevada, ans well as on the east coast. he played for 6 years on Bourbon street from 1975 to 1981 along with other local fair including Jazz Fest 3 times, French Quarter Fest, and the 1984 Worlds Fair. He played with Gary Brown, Philip Manuel, Luther Kent, ELS, and Louisiana Hall of Famer John Fred and the Playboys for 8 years. He also did toured with The Louisiana Boys for 9 years. David had his own band called “Coffee” that toured regionally and played in Nashville and Memphis with Issac Hayes and at the Montreal International Jazz Fest in 2000. There were many favorable write ups about “Coffee” in such reputable blues publications like Living Blues and In the Basement. He also played for The Platters, The Coasters, The Marvellettes, Big Joe Turner, Chuck Berry and Denise LaSalle. The Wiseguys are proud to have David on board, setting a new groove with his rhythmic style of playing.
Joey Catalanotto is a “deep-in-the-pocket” drummer that has been with The Wiseguys from their humble beginning in 1997. He is Lieutenant to the Captain (Chris) of the group. Together he and Chris have a combined dedication to make sure the band stretches their potential. At the age of 6 Joey would come home from Mardi Gras parades and imitate what he had heard the drum lines do while marching. He began taking formal drum lessons two years later. His favorite music was old school R&B and he reflected that in his developing drum style. While attending Holy Cross High School, he was a member of the Tiger Marching Band under the direction of the late, great Frank “Prof” Maninno. In the late 80′s he became the drummer for a local group called The Bedrocks. Shortly after that band broke up, Chris returned from Texas and he and Joey, Harold, and two other former members of The Bedrocks, formed The Wiseguys. Joey’s steady beat with it’s old school influence is the foundation of the rhythm that drives the band’s energetic groove and keeps the people jammin on the dance floor.
Chris Campbell, is the bass player, vocalist, and fearless leader of The Wiseguys. His organizational skills have been instrumental in building the band into the musical success it has become. He hails from a family whose appreciation for music exposed him to a variety of genres which included the sounds of Pete Fountain, Mardi Gras music with it’s distinctive street beat, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers and Bruce Springsteen. Chris watched two of his older brothers grow musically, playing in popular local bands, and knew that he wanted to take that same path. At Bonnabel High School, one of his teachers saw promise in the shy teenager and coaxed him into taking general music courses and learning choral arrangements. After high school he learned to play guitar and played in a few local cover bands when he was in his twenties. His job relocated him to Texas where he joined in the Houston music scene with a local rock band. In 1997 he returned to New Orleans and formed The Wiseguys with Joey, the drummer, and Harold, originally the keyboard player. Chris’s knowledge of music via his huge library of songs provides him with a rich texture of musical nuance. His intuition of what works for a specific event is the magic that keeps the party flowing smoothly. His leadership skills are what keep his band members dedicated to producing their awesome sound laced with the local flavor New Orleans is known for. According to Chris, in his humble opinion, he’s “not really a musician”. However, his musical intuition, talent, history, and appreciation… combined with his organizational skills and dedication to The Wiseguys, certainly speaks otherwise.
Kathy Savoie began singing at the age of 14 at Union Hall dances in Chalmette Louisiana with groups like Danny Hebert and the Nobles, The Corvettes, and Earl Stanley and The Stereos. She started singing pro when she was 15 with the support of her father, and joined Betty Lynch and The Mob. While she was with Betty she got to play for the soldiers at Keisler Air Force base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Shortly after, Earl Stanley and partner Ray Theriot, opened a recording studio called Thunder Records and asked Kathy to record for the label. She made a record that had “Tough Guy” on side A and “Let This Love Begin” on side B. Radio station WWOZ still plays “Tough Guy” to this day and can be found on a local album called “New Orleans Golden Oldies”. Besides her own recording, Kathy sang background vocals for Irma Thomas and performed the vocals on commercials for Trappey’s, Lamarque Ford, Wembley Ties, and The DDD, to mention a few. She opened up for Jean Knight, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Dominoe, Barbara George, Barbara Lynn, Marva Wright, Frankie Ford and Jeri Hall. She joined Bennie Grunch and the Bunch and became well known for her part of “Fried Onion Rings” in the their popular Christmas recording called, “The Twelve Yats of Christmas”. After Bennie Grunch and the Bunch disbanded, Kathy began singing for The Wiseguys in 2000, bringing a unique New Orleans nostalgia to the mosaic of flavor that Chris wanted the band to have. She delivers her soulful R&B sound with a punch that compares to no one else and she brings smiles to many with her old school New Orleans familiarity. “Whatcha need? Tell Mama”
Terri Lynn is a vocalist who joined The Wiseguys in May of 2008. She has played in various bands in various night clubs throughout the New Orleans area for thirty years. She served as an opening act locally for Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ray Charles, Brenda Lee, B.J. Thomas, Jo-El Sonnier, Earl Thomas Connelly, T. Graham Brown, The Grass Roots, Andy Gibb, George Jones, Pete Fountain, Harry Connick, Ronnie Cole, Irma Thomas, Charmaine Neville, The Neville Brothers, and more. She recorded three CD’s under the late Mid Night Sun Records featuring original material that she co-wrote . She has performed in Florida, Texas, New York, Las Vegas, California, Nashville, Washington, Chicago, Alabama and, last but not least… New Orleans’ own Bourbon Street. She now brings her own brand of high energy vocals and entertainment to The Wiseguys.