John Budnik: Guitar, vocals, keys, harmonica
Born, raised and residing in Palmer, Alaska, John’s musical history starts in the middle school band room where his friends invited him to watch them jam. He went home and asked his old man, a seasoned guitar player, to teach him. His laid-back attitude means he’s open to the other band members’ ideas. He’s a listener and observer, so his songs come out as stories told to an audience who can relate. With keen musical skills, a talent for writing and a mind for leadership, John is the resounding voice of the band.
Cody O’Mary: Drums, guitar, lapsteel, vocals
Cody came of age when he discovered women, beer cheese and music. He’s a master of many instruments: guitar, lap steel, bass, but he stands out on the drums with spot-on timing and rhythms that push beyond the expected. His sense of humor gives him flair and fuels his showmanship. His creativity allows him to play with anyone of any skill level, expanding the sound to a professional level. When he’s in a groove, his energy is infectious. If you catch him on the lap steel, listen up, because it sounds like velvet.
Steve Thomas: Bass, ukulele
Raised in the outskirts of Wasilla, Steve spent some time in Hawaii where he got good at music and—ahem—drinking, during some self-described “wild craziness.” He’s a bear of a man with a commanding presence. On the bass he gives the music a steady foundation of rhythm. His licks make you listen. He’s a master of the ukulele and can sing opera fluently in Italian. Steve is dedicated to the music with a genuine attitude that propels the band. Oh, and don’t try rushing the stage, Steve’s been known to pull bouncer duties.
The social dynamics of bands are an interesting part of making music with others. To have a group of individuals come together in one room and create music by adding to each other’s own contributions is truly a magical experience. Alas, musicians will come and go and our lives will pull each other in different directions, but never without gratitude for the experience. Thank you to these former members for making what the John Budnik Band is today.
Brice McDaniel: Guitar, drums (2016-2017)
For coming to music a little later than most, Brice dedicated himself to the pursuit for the last decade and is now a champion of multiple instruments. His rhythm, energy and style attracts attention from the word go. Some say he has a mystical element to his stage presence. And who are we to disagree? The guy learns super-humanly fast and can accommodate just about any musician—instinctively blending his style with theirs. The confidence, the dedication, the chill demeanor, there’s no mistaking Brice when he’s jamming. You can hear his searing solos and natural lead guitar playing on the band’s debut album, “Transformations.”
Grisha Stewart: Vocals, percussion (2016)
Grisha grew up in the middle of nowhere in northern Idaho—with no electricity or running water. It’s no wonder the Last Frontier suits her well. Dogs have always been a passion of Grisha’s (she’s a dog trainer and book author by day), but she’s always been drawn to music. In 2016, she began to pursue music professionally. She sings backup and lead on her own songs with a beautiful, smooth and purposeful voice. To bolster her writing she is learning how to play instruments, starting with the piano, ukulele, and guitar. Her songwriting is fearless and her knack for management, public relations and all things business helped to keep the band on track. You can listen to her backup vocals on the band’s debut album, “Transformations.”
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