Michael’s musical roots were seeded by his father, Walter. He began playing banjo at age 13 and continued to study a wide range of musical instruments. Today, Michael teaches and performs various instruments including guitar, bass, mandolin and the low brass family. Throughout high school, he played with local string bands, school ensembles and toured with the Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps. During college he performed with Mr. John Fadis and the Bob Hope Show Band. Michael and Billy Sandlin, a guest performer on the Gypsy Wind CD, played with Bill Monroe at his final show in Tarpon Springs, Florida. His pursuit of a musical career has also enabled him to participate as an opening performer for bands including Crosby, Stills, & Nash, the Pat Metheny Group, Little Feat and Jefferson Starship. Michael and Gypsy Wind had the pleasure to accompany the legendary violinist, Vassar Clements, at the 2001 Florida Folk Festival. Today he shares his talents with a host of regional bands and teaches music locally.
Kristen began playing the flute at age ten and continued her musical training in high school and college. Her exposure to music at a young age paved the way for the formation of their family band, “Grass with Class,” and later their album, Friends, as well as other rewarding projects. The influence of David Grisman and the “Dawg” movement opened the door for Kristen to explore another realm of her musicianship. Her vocal influences include Emmylou Harris, Claire Lynch, Nancy Griffith and Shawn Colvin.
Mark has been playing music on various instruments since the age of six, a journey that has taken him through classical and jazz piano, organ, guitar, bass, and violin. In college, he studied audio recording and music theory, and met his wife, harpist Jennifer Robertson-Tessi. He picked up the mandolin about 10 years ago and it has since become his favorite instrument. He has played and toured with a number of acts, including banjo player Tim Weed, singer-songwriter Nathan McEuen, Irish band Round the house, and newgrass band the String Figures. His influences are many and varied, including Tiny Moore, JS Bach, Mark Knopfler, Anibal Troilo, Barthelemy Attisso, and Thelonius Monk.
Rob’s earliest musical influence came from his grandfather, who was a self-taught musician; playing everything from the tuba and trumpet to the ukulele and guitar. While living in Cincinnati after college graduation, Rob wandered into the Old Time Music Shoppe and purchased a 1946 Kay Bass. This introduced him to world of bluegrass, old time and acoustic music. His interest in these styles flourished and Rob joined Gypsy Wind after relocating to Florida. Rob continues to be influenced by all types of music from Django Reinhardt to Jerry Garcia, Talking Heads to Tony Rice, and Beck to Bob Dylan among many others.