In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
The Biography of Five Mouth Musicians
Jim Castaneda, Tenor: James Alfonso Castaneda was born in Seattle, Washington, and was raised in Granite Falls and Lake Stevens for most of his life. Jim first displayed his love for the stage at Lake Stevens High School in the drama class. His senior year, a close friend encouraged Jim to join the choir. With a natural stage presence and a beautiful voice, Jim decided to pursue his music and continue on to Edmonds Community College's vocal jazz program where he would audition for the select vocal jazz choir, Soundsation. Upon being accepted, he sang in places like Switzerland, Austria, London, and France. Little did he know, Soundsation is where he would meet his musical soul mates. Jim started up various acapella groups while in Soundsation, but it was in his third year as assistant director that all of the original members came together and started what is now known as KICKSHAW. Currently Jim does some writing and arranging for the group as well as some work on the business side of things. Jim's energy on the stage and ability to interact with the audience creates an excitement in the audience, making each show an engaging experience.
Danny Figgins, 2nd tenor/high baritone: Daniel Patrick Figgins hails from Bainbridge Island, Washington. Music has been a key part of his life since about age 5 when he took up the piano and singing. This lasted until age 11, when Danny discovered sports. Unfortunately, Danny dislocated his hip while playing football his freshman year in high school. While Danny was recovering from his injury, his love for music and the stage was rediscovered. Danny returned to the high school choirs and spent the rest of his high school career performing music rather than sports. Danny's passion for vocal jazz brought him to the acclaimed vocal jazz program at Edmonds Community College, which includes a select vocal jazz choir, Soundsation. Danny was chosen for Soundsation and this is where he met the other founding members of KICKSHAW. However, it was not until September of 1996 that KICKSHAW was formed. The past 3 years Danny has been a huge creative force in the group. He has written and arranged many of the songs in KICKSHAW'S repertoire. Danny arranged favorite, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," and wrote and arranged the title track off of their latest album, "Superstar." Danny's soulful voice and expressive attitude brings an intense element to KICKSHAW.
Andy Marshall, baritone/bass: Andrew Gordon Marshall is originally from Whitmore, California. At the age of 5 Andy picked up the fiddle and began his musical career. Elementary school was where he first joined the choir. They were in need of boys and being the outgoing kind of guy he is, he joined. As it turned out, Andy was the only boy until he hegan 8th grade. He continued his passion for singing, and decided to continue at Enterprise High School. Andy was part of the concert and jazz choirs as well as the show-pop choir called "Starship." This is where he refined his skills as a performer in both singing and dancing. During his first year at Shasta Community College, Andy decided that he wanted to pursue vocaljazz as a career and he would begin to search for the best program available. This search landed him at Edmonds Community College hoping for acceptance in the select vocaljazz ensemble, Soundsation. Andy was accepted and met Danny Figgins whom introduced Andy to the other members of what would be KICKSHAW. As KICKSHAW was formed Andy would sing Baritone as he still does today. In addition, he sings many of the bass parts, does vocal percussion and does some writing and arranging. Andy is responsible for writing, arranging, and producing one of the most popular and inspirational songs, "Walking Man." Andy contributes a unique sense of humor and an undying enthusiasm for the stage.
Blake Lewis, tenor/vocal percussion: Blake Colin Lewis is the cause for quite a bit of excitement. Blake is the youngest member of KICKSHAW and the only guy that doesn't have roots at EDCC, however his musical abilities left the other three guys in amazement as he performed at his audition. A mutual friend had mentioned Blake to Andy and the rest is history. Music seems to be hereditary in the Lewis family. Blake's mother was a professional singer for many years as was his grandfather. In the 8th grade, Blake toured with the Columbia Boys Choir through Europe, where they placed dh in the International Music Festival for Youth Choirs. He continued with this choir for a couple of years and began singing in school choir as well. KICKSHAW is Blake's first professional musical endeavor. He graduated just last year from Inglemoor High School in the class of 1999. So where did he get this talent for vocal percussion? Well as amazing as it is, Blake has just listened to CD's and picked up this unique talent purely by ear. The amazing "human beat box" has been captivating people, just as it did Jim, Danny, and Andy, since the minute he set foot on stage.
Dan Schumacher, baritone/vocal ercussion: Daniel Francois Schumacher was born in Cheyanne, Wyoming into a family where music was as typical as conversation. Dan was singing with various choirs and ensembles by the time he was seven years old and the music never stopped. He continued vocalizing throughout junior high and high school. Cheyenne Central High School is where his acapella career began in a group called T.C. and the tall dudes. Standing at 6 ft4in., Dan was actually the shortest of the tall dudes. In pursuit of a musical education, Dan continued on to Northwest College where he studied Jazz music and involved himself in any performance group that he could find. Upon finishing at Northwest, he continued on to Indiana University to study opera and vocaljazz. This is where the creative force known as Monkey Puzzle was born. Monkey Puzzle increased the popularity of acapella music in the Midwest with their eclectic sound. Monkey Puzzle was together for five years in which time Dan was able to realize the power of a truly energized performance. Upon the breaking up of Monkey Puzzle, Dan decided to move to Colorado to see what would happen. About 10 months after settling in Denver, KICKSHAW came knocking on his door. Actually it wasn't that simple, but we'll spare you the details. At the audition, Jim, Andy, Danny, and Blake mutually agreed that Dan "Shoe" Schumacher was the right man for the job. So there you have it...ladies and gentleman. . ..KICKSHAW!
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Review: Seattle, Washington-based Kickshaw, 5-man Contemporary a cappella group who've been working on their 'Groovalistic-Funkappella' sound since 1996, won first place in the 1997 Pacific NW Harmony Sweepstakes competition, and decided after a great performance at the Finals that they were ready to pursue music full time. 'Put It' has 9 songs (and an intro by one of the group member's little son): 'Gavin Intro,' 'Stand Up,' 'No,' 'Pin-Up Girl,' 'No Tomorrow,' 'Me Gusta La Musica,' 'Potatoes and Rice,' 'The Other Side,' 'What I Wanted' and 'Play!' 'Put It' is excellent CD #2, the first was 'Superstar.' Kickshaw's energetic songs are groove-driven, with crafty vocal arrangements, and they have ability to create the sounds of musical instruments with only their mouths-which makes them a very exciting live group, and 'Put It' an a cappella envelope-pushing winner!
Songlist: Gavin Intro, Stand Up, No, Pin-Up Girl, No Tomorrow, Me Gusta La Musica, Potatoes and Rice, The Other Side, What I Wanted, Play!
Review: Having been introduced to Seattle's Kickshaw in the 1997 Harmony Sweepstakes, we knew this CD was worth our attention, and it has surpassed our expectations. (Seattle's a cappella scene is happening, having also produced m-pact and the Coats). This funky foursome grooves to a dance beat, that's for sure; 'Superstar,' written by the group, is our favorite, but 'Papa Is A Rolling Stone' is a close runner-up. However, Kickshaw throws out several curve balls too - the chant of 'Invictus,' which reveals a depth and intelligence that goes beyond frilly shirts and disco frivolity. The production is outstanding, some of the best we've heard - 'Dance To The Music' a great example, as Kickshaw cops a guitar and drum tone that may even be better than the real thing, and the arrangement is clever. Cool.
Songlist: Sound Check, Voice!, Superstar, Invictus, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Dance To The Music, The Deed, The Party Song, Walkin' Man, My Heart Is For You, Invictus (reprise), Are You Gonna Go My Way, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band