Mary Beth Sippin, the founder of Goldrush Music has had an astonishing career in music spanning many years, many performances, many bands, many genres, and many stages. Her love for music emerged from the time she was a small toddler, singing at every opportunity, at the age of only five she got to sing on her first radio program with other family members. Her musical journey has taken her from jazz and pop, to rock ‘n’ roll, to acoustic, bluegrass and country. Way back when (we won’t say how far back…) She met husband Gary Sippin at a club, where she was performing with a bluegrass band String Fling led by banjo player Dick Neal (a current goldrush band member) Gary, who was also a musician later convinced her to play in his band, the rest as they say is history. Gary and Mary Beth have performed in three bands together over the years, Sunset Blues, Diamond Spurs, and now Goldrush. The journey has been interesting to say the least and has taken us from small local venues all the way to the grand old Opry in Nashville Tennessee, where Gary and Mary Beth were fortunate to perform two years in a row. They also got an opportunity to play on the Charlie Daniels show, and appeared on TNN national television many times. They have had the opportunity to open for many national acts, including Blake Shelton, the Chieftains, Ty Herndon, Collin Ray, and whispering Bill Anderson just to name a few. What Mary Beth is most thankful for are the incredible musicians she has had the privilege to perform with over the years. And for musicians, the members of the band are not just coworkers, they’re family. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, Mary Beth (aka MB) is most thankful for the fans who have come to watch Goldrush shows over the years.
Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
Gary Sippin has played acoustic music for over 40 years, and has played in four different bands in that time. Gary’s musical career began with the acoustic guitar, and shortly thereafter the five string banjo. His musical background is heavily rooted in folk, bluegrass and finger style guitar playing. Influences over the years have included Earl Scruggs, Jim Mills, Jorma Kaukonen, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, John Renborn, Leo Kotke, Tommy Emanuel just to name a few. After playing in several country bands including Dealer’s Choice, Big Sky Band, Gary met Mary Beth while performing at a nightclub in Westport with a band called String Fling. Interestingly the banjo player (and current Goldrush member) Dick Neal, introduced Gary to Mary Beth that evening, and a few years later Gary convinced her to join his band. Since that time as husband and wife they have been performing together for decades and it played hundreds of concerts. Highlights of Gary’s career have included two performances in the Grand Ole Opry, and concerts opening for national acts such as Blake Shelton and Collin Ray. Above all Gary enjoys playing with musicians that he considers the best in New England.
Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin, Dobro
Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin, Dobro
Richard Neal works as a producer, recording engineer, studio/performing musician, songwriter, recording artist, and teacher.
A shortlist of recent recording credits includes the Discovery Channel (Penn & Teller) and PBS (Roadtrip Nation). He produced Chris Berardo and the Desberardos CD “Ignoring All the Warning Signs” which reached #4 on a Sirius/XM radio Americana chart.
As a songwriter Richard has had a dozen or more of his compositions recorded by other artists, and several more have appeared in the stage acts of various singers. He released a new collection of recordings early in 2016 titled “A Step Up”. It consists of 10 of his original compositions produced in a collaboration with Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step. He has taught songwriting at the college level and conducted songwriting workshops on the festival circuit. He currently studies songwriting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been selected to be a featured artist at the Berklee songwriter showcase “Berklee in the Round”.
In performance he has appeared on stage as a member of or an accompanist for such disparate acts as Orchestra New England, soprano Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, and the Nutopians. His band won the 2010 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band competition and has performed at the Gray Fox, Podunk, Joe Val, and Strawberry Park bluegrass festivals among others. As a staff musician on Newtown, CT’s Flagpole Radio Cafe Richard has appeared onstage as an accompanist for the likes of Peter Yarrow, Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Jonathan Edwards, Vanese Thomas, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Guy Davis, to name but a few. He is also honored to be a member of the bands led by youthful bluegrass virtuosi Korey Brodsky and G Rockwell.
Richard also acts as Master of Ceremonies for a variety of concert events, including the Clearwater Festival, soon to take place the weekend of June 16/17, 2018.
For 18 years he has been one of the hosts of the “Bluegrass & Beer” series which takes place at The Acoustic in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT.
Gary Wikfors (G-2 in Goldrush) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer of songs and tunes in north American and northwestern European folk traditions. G-2 took up the 5-string banjo while a teenager after hearing a Stanley Brothers recording. While playing in a variety of groups and duos over 40+ years, including a jug band, traditional and progressive bluegrass bands, old-time ensembles, contra-dance and Celtic groups, and duos playing singer-songwriter, Hawaiian, and Nordic music, G-2 assimilated a wide range of stringed instruments into his music. Connecticut bands with which G-2 has been associated include The Jackson Pike Skifflers (18 years), Apple Country, The Fiddleheads (20+ years), the Walkingwood Mandolin Quartet (19 years), Lost Dog, ZuZazz, the Wikfors & Mossman Duo, and others. Professional highlights include realizing his dream of founding a mandolin quartet, being selected as music composer aboard the Charles W. Morgan’s 38th Voyage, and getting incrementally closer to being able to play the Swedish nyckelharpa. G-2’s role in Goldrush is slap the back-beat on a mandolin till it hurts and to tinkle a melody now and then. What G-2 enjoys most about Goldrush is getting to stand and listen in the middle of a bunch of seasoned pro musicians – best spot in the house!
For over 20 years, Coogan has led the Chris Coogan Quartet, a combo with a repertoire that includes straight-ahead jazz, fusion jazz and boogie-woogie.
S’Funky, Coogan’s first jazz album containing his original songs, was released in 1995 and re-released in 1999. It features the song Cranberry Isle which took the top jazz prize in the 1997 John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Coogan’s credits as a jazz musician include performing with the late Sal Salvador, Bette Midler, Donna Summer, Paul Newman, Whoopie Goldberg, Jo Ann Woodward, Alec Baldwin, Gene Wilder, Larry Coryell, Dave Liebman, Harold Danko, Ronnie Spector, James Naughton and Phoebe Snow, as well as arranging for Teo Maceo, producer for the late Miles Davis He appeared on television’s Celebrity Jeopardy and the Arsenio Hall Show and has performed at Manhattan’s Blue Note and the Montreaux Jazz Festival.
Coogan as Gospel Musician
Coogan also leads a successful career as a choral director; as well as a writer and arranger of gospel music. He weaves jazz black gospel and white choral music into a new brand of music that engages a broad, cross-cultural audience. In 1993, he founded the good News Gospel Choir with 15 members. Today, this 50-voice, multi-denominational singing group performs nearly every weekend at churches, festivals, fundraisers and various community events throughout the state of Connecticut. The group has released two albums, 1997’s Joy, Unspeakable Joy and most recently, Light a Candle. Through a choral workshops, Coogan has begun to help reinvigorate church and community choirs by teaching directors and members the vocal techniques and gesture that accompany Gospel music. These workshops have been offered throughout California and in Sydney, Australia and will be offered to churches throughout the country in Spring, 2001. I see myself as a catalyst who uses the medium of music to bring people together” Coogan said. “It’s my passion to help people find joy in making music and singing from their souls”.
John Mobilio is a multi-talented musician who, as bassist, educator, musical director and performer brings his joy of jazz and music to audiences and students throughout Connecticut and into New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Living in Middlebury, Connecticut gives John easy access to performance venues in New York City, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Hartford and the Springfield, Mass areas.
John performs regularly with the Chris Coogan Quintet, guitarist Mike Coppolla, vocalist Richard “Cookie” Thomas, and saxophonist Jim Clark. He has recently engineered and performed as bassist on the Chris Coogan Quintet CD Stars and Wind as well as bassist on the Jim Clark CD “Old As New”. John has had the pleasure of performing in concert with jazz greats Lewis Nash, Jimmy Cobb, Mike Mainieri, Liam Teague, and Eliot Zigmund and Mike Clark. As a member of the Roylety Steel Pan Caribbean group, John interprets music of the islands on the fretless electric bass. In 2014 John became the bassist for Goldrush – a cutting-edge acoustic country band blending country and bluegrass music.
A founding member of The Jazz Trio, John along with Jim Santucci on piano, and Jack Varanelli on drums, John was bassist and engineer on two projects — The Jazz Trio CD, in 1998 and The Jazz Trio Alive with Glenda Davenport in 2002. The Jazz Trio had the privilege to perform as opening act for Branford Marsalis at the inaugural re-opening of the newly renovated Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Center in Woonsocket, RI.
John balances out his professional life as music educator and performing arts department chair at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School, an interdistrict facility in the Waterbury, CT Public School District.
John graduated from Housatonic Community College in 1977 with an Associates Degree, studying bass with Rick Petrone. He went on to the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, to earn his Bachelors of Music Education, studying classical acoustic bass with Leslie Martin of the Boston Symphony. A Masters Degree in Educational Technology and Media was earned from Central Connecticut State University in 1993. Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT awarded John a 6th Year Administration Degree in 2000. In 2013, John was a national semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation Grammy Educator Award.
Jeff grew up in a home where classic country music was not only playing on the stereo daily but live music could be heard most nights. His father Nick, performed regularly for Honkytonks, America Legions, etc. when Jeff was growing up. The groups rehearsals were always at the DeMaio house. So it was only natural for Jeff to move into the “family business.” He began learning the steel guitar locally at a young age and became passionate about the instrument. By the time Jeff was 18 he began making trips to Nashville, TN to study with some of his steel guitar heroes including Buddy Emmons, Paul Franklin, and later Buddy Charleton. He formed the traditional country band Gunsmoke many years ago and the family band has expanded into 3 generations over its 30 years and continues to have a full schedule of live performances throughout the tri-state area. Some highlights that Jeff remembers fondly include recording four CD’s in Nashville, performing for George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and opening for many acclaimed artists such as Hank Jr, Waylon Jennings, Marty Stuart, Charlie Daniels, Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson.
Jeff is delighted to be a part of Goldrush and share the stage with such talented musicians.