GENE ACREE BIO:
Drummer / percussionist
Gene Acree was born into a legacy of musical talent as Gene’s father Andy Acree has been in the country music business
his whole life. Gene’s Father has been a musician, band leader, President of a Record Label and recording studio. Gene’s
Dad was inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973 with the great Patsy Montana. Gene was honored along with his father’s
band The COUNTRY SQUIRES when they were inducted into the Illinois Country
Music Hall Of Fame and Museum in October of 1998 along with his father. Gene learned from the
best when at 8 years old he started taking lessons from his dad’s drummer Russ Schroeder who during his career was on
the Grand Ole Opry while working for Kitty Wells and Sonny Wright and worked as the Opry staff drummer for several years.
At age 12 Gene and Alan Jackson’s guitarist Tom Rutledge became members of Andy Acree’s Country Squires Band where
they both traveled with the Squires working the road with some of Country Music’s finest . Names such as Conway Twitty,
Nat Stuckey, Willy Nelson, Hank Thompson, Hank Williams Jr, Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Billy Grammer, Carl and Pearl Butler
and many of the stars of the Grand Ole Opry until they were out of school. In high school and in college Gene played music
with various groups around Central Illinois and in 1988 moved to Florida where he joined up with Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts
in the making of Seven Turns in preparation for the 20th year come
back tour of the Allman Bros Band . Gene will tell you today he would not take anything away from the early years as they
are what have made him what he is today. Gene has been mainly a free lance drummer most of his life. Gene Recently hit a milestone
that was covered in an Illinois Times article by Tom Irwin when Gene played his 5,000th performance on November 11, 2006 at the Hoogland Center for the arts with Bill Cobb and the Memory of Elvis Show.
plays several variations of drum sets including LUDWIG, PEARL and PREMIER and plays Zildjian
and Paiste cymbals exclusively.
Tom Woolsey “Dooley”
Tom "Dooley" Woolsey first picked
up a guitar at the age of 13, quite by accident. While visiting relatives, he noticed the neighbor having a garage sale. There
he purchased his first guitar for $3.00. It had only 4 tuning machine heads and couldn't play without being repaired.
Thus began the journey. Having lived in Little Rock, Arkansas he was used to listening to "Pirate Radio" KAAY, Beaker Street, with Clyde Clifford. The "summer of
Love" stuff. The first musical question his classmates asked after he moved to Illinois. Since then Dooley's guitar has been the vehicle that leads him
down "The King's Highway". Dooley has been in bands that have opened for the Musical greats
Willie Nelson, Hank Williams III, Highway 101, Ruby Starr & Greyghost, Phil & The Blanks,
Mojo Nixon, and on and on. Dooley has been fortunate to share the stage with many talented musicians/friends who represent
the upper crust of super talent; Bill Laymon of The David Nelson Band, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Keith Voegele of The Bottle
Rockets, Moonlight Rhythm Rangers, Gene Acree of The Dickie Betts Band and Gregg
Alman Band, Tom Irwin, Scott Neece, Raoul Brotherman, Roger Wainwright, Bruce Williams of NIL8, and the list goes on and on.
"The Lonely Street Band" is the current powerhouse. Dooley plays vintage Fender
instruments including a '74 Strat, '93 Strat, '60s Mosrite Celebrety a '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, & a '65 Fender Vibrolux
The musical youngster of the band, Ken has been onstage for about 30 years. He grew up
with a country background in his home and his music style reflects that heritage.
Early influences include Chet Atkins, Roy Clark, Hank Thompson, Bob Wills and a bevy
of country swing artists. A two year gig early in his career with a road group based out of Longview, Texas ingrained country swing and Texas dance hall music in him and it is still one of his favorite styles to
Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughn and the emergence
of Country Rock Groups like Alabama brought about a change in Ken’s direction and he now finds himself just as comfortable
playing classic Rock as he does country.
He now enjoys listening to pickers like James Burton, Roy Buchanon, Danny Gatton and
Ken has played in several popular local groups over the years as family life kept him
from pursuing any more road gigs. As a member of those groups, he has opened for the likes of Joe Diffey, Montgomery Gentry, Brian McComas, and others.
On stage you’ll usually find Ken playing one of his trusty telecasters through
a Rivera Chubster 40 amplifier. This is his “Elvis” sound as he kicks out those James Burton licks. His setup
is very basic with just a chorus pedal and volume/wah pedal.
However, if you hear the cry of a tenor sax or a little piano riff coming from stage
and you wonder what’s going on, you’ll find that Ken has his Roland guitar synthesizer hooked up and anything
goes. This little gem sets him apart from most local players. He is able to add multiple instrument sounds to the band while
still playing guitar. No longer a novelty, guitar synths are becoming more common, but Ken’s 10 years of playing on
one have helped him develop a very distinct style with it.
RICHARD HOPPER ‘’HOP’’ GOT HIS FIRST GUITAR FROM SEARS AT THE AGE OF14. IN 1958, HE SAW THIS GREEN
THIN LINE AIR LINE GUITAR WITH WHAT LOOKED LIKE THE TOP OF A KITCHEN SINK. IT WAS GREEN TOP AND BOTTOM WITH METAL SINK EDGING
AROUND THE SIDES. BUT IT WAS A REAL ELECTRIC GUITAR AND IT WAS MINE HOP SAYS.
AFTER ABOUT A YEAR OR SO,HOP WAS LEARNING CORDS AND RECORDING SONGS ON AN OLD AIRLINE RECORDER. HE WOULD THEN PLAY A LEAD
ALONG WITH THE CORDS. ONE DAY, A YOUNG LADY WHO LIVED ACROSS THE STREET HEARD HOP AND THOUGHT HE WAS “GOOD”. BOY
YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING.
ONE NIGHT HOP WAS AT A DANCE AT JEFFERSON JR. HIGH WHERE A GROUP CALLED THE HARMONY BROS.WERE PLAYING. IT WASN’T
LONG BEFORE HOP FOUND SOME OTHER KIDS THAT PLAYED GUITAR AND DRUMS----AND AWAY THEY WENT THAT WAS HOPS STARTINTHE MUSIC BIZ..
AROUND 1960 HOP WAS PLAYING GUITAR AND BASS WITH A GROUP CALLED “JONNIE AND THE CYCLONES”. THEY HAD A RECORD
THAT WAS CUT IN ST. LOUIS CALLED TWISTED FENDER ON ONE SIDE AND SCRUB BUCKET ON THE OTHER. BACK THEN BOTH SIDES WERE BEING
PLAYED ON RADIO STATIONS “WCVS AND KXOK”. WE ARE TOLD THAT BOTH ARE STILL PLAYED ON 50-60 MARKETS AROUND THE COUNTRY.
AFTER GRADUATION FROM RIVERTON HIGH SCHOOL,HOP WENT WITH A BAND ON THE ROAD ENDING UP IN SAN ANGELLO TEXAS WHERE HE MET
J.FRANK WILSON AND THE CAVALEARS WHO HAD THE HIT RECORD “LAST KISS”. HOP WORKED AROUND TEXAS AND RECORDED SOME
UNTIL HE DECIDED TO COME BACK HOME WHEN HE MET HIS WIFE MARY AND SETTLED IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS WHERE HE PLAYED BASS WITH THE
HARMONY BROS FOR AWHILE AND IN SEVERAL BANDS IN THE SPRINGFIELD AREA AS A BASS PLAYER STARTING WITH THE HOUSE BAND AT NASHVILLE
NORTH IN TAYLORVILLE, IL BUT HAD TO LEAVE WHEN HE BECAME A SANGAMON COUNTY DEPUTY AND HAD TO WORK SATURDAYS AND COULDN’T
PLAY THE SATURDAY SHOWS.
FOR SEVERAL YEARS HOP PLAYED WITH JUDY KAYE AND THE NASHVILLE SOUND---THEN HOP AND HIS BROTHER HAD A BAND CALLED SUGAR
CREEK--NEXT WAS THE SECOND TIME AROUND BAND----THEN STILL KICKIN FOR FIVE YEARS AND ON TO EASY STREET----SOMETIMES DOING BLUES
AT THE ALAMO WITH BILL EVANS.
FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS, HOP SAYS “I HAVE HAD THE HONOR TO PLAY BASS FOR ANDY ACREE AND THE COUNTRY SQUIRES. ANDY
IS AN ICONS IN COUNTRY MUSIC AS A BAND LEADER AND BASS MAN----”THANKS ANDY” HOP GOES ON TO SAY ’ABOUT THE
BAND EASY STREET “ THIS IS THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD PLAYING BASS. THE OTHER PLAYERS ARE THE TOP OF THEIR TRADE
AND AS THE SHOW GOES ON, IT’S LIKE ELVIS IS REALLY HERE. THE TRIBUTE ARTISTS ARE VERY SINCERE ABOUT ELVIS AND HIS MUSIC
--THEY BRING A LITTLE ELVIS MAGIC TO THE STAGE AND THE ELVIS FANS WHO COME TO SEE THEM LOVE ELVIS FIRST.