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Middle 8

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Middle 8 makes their recording debut with the Waterdog Records release, Ever Since Ever. The Chicago-based quartet was created when Brian Sheridan and Andy Perostianis accidentally discovered they were cousins, albeit only in the musical sense.

Brian and Andy are a team where each will, at times, sing lead, sing harmony, play guitar and play bass. Sometimes songwriting is a solo effort, sometimes a collaboration. Both born in Chicago, each started on an instrument in their pre-teen years, Brian with bass, Andy with drums.

Brian Sheridan's musical story starts with an illustration of his flexibility and professional attitude. When in the typical boyhood chum fashion the "let's start a band" virus hit, the first one to buy a guitar got to be the guitarist. Brian was then determined to be a drummer. However, when economics and parents dictated that the layaway plan funded by the paper route and grocery bagging would be the only avenue to purchase, then a $300 Conrad Gibson bass became much more appealing than a $1,000 drum kit. He quickly took to the instrument and soon found himself at a very early age playing in clubs with a repertoire that ran from The Cure to The Stray Cats to The Fixx, plus a few originals. His personal musical taste was already a bit broader - encompassing the expanses between Van Halen and Paul McCartney.

When Brian was 17, a cousin with a bit of musical popularity in Ireland, Liam Carter, came to visit. Cousin Liam inspired Brian to take up the acoustic guitar, an instrument that Brian found to be the tool that enabled him to become a serious songwriter. Cousin Liam must've been a bit leprechaunish since Brian's father, who had never demonstrated any previous musical ability, also took to the acoustic guitar and began regaling the Sheridan household with traditional songs from his native Ireland. (Brian's mother was a bit of a closet accordion player who would occasionally entertain the family with a polka). Brian would begin to lead the double life of playing both traditional Irish music and new wave hits.

Andy Perostianis was first and often inspired by his own cousin, Art Tianis, to play music. Andy's first choice at the age of ten was drums - and he stuck with the sticks for about eight years, supplemented by some school band trumpet blowing. Always drawn to the smoother, melodic elements of rock such as James Taylor and Phil Collins, he also developed a strong interest in contemporary country music stars such as George Strait and Clint Black. A switch to acoustic guitar was inevitable. When he considered his skills on six-string and vocal ability strong enough, he auditioned for a band that Brian was playing in. As recounted in Ever Since Ever's CD booklet, when Andy auditioned, he and Brian both knew they had found a musical singing and writing partner, doing the sort of music they both loved. Music that is melodic, heartfelt, but still has punch to it.

The two spent a few years developing the songs and sympatico, though Brian continued to play traditional Irish music as well. The earliest incarnations of a quartet based around Andy and Brian's songs started playing regularly in 1995. Note that while Andy sings the majority of the leads, the songwriting is split fairly evenly. It was in this early time that the duo first attracted the attention of Ralph Covert, leader of The Bad Examples. Besides his performing career, which has yielded ten albums and as many European tours, Ralph also has taught several songwriting classes at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music, and has produced CDs for Joel Frankel, Dean Goldstein & Coin, and Ken Jagmin. When Middle 8 was ready to record, Ralph was eager to get behind the control board. "What appealed to me was that the songwriting and performances were already so strong and defined. I just had to make sure I stayed out of their way and let Middle 8 shine through."

As a producer, Ralph enlisted the talents of some of Chicago's best musicians: guitarist/mandolinist John Rice (currently with The Insiders); Buddah Slim (formerly the organist and accordion player for The Remainders); Steve Wozny, keyboardist for The Bad Examples. Ralph's choice to bring in session ace Ron Barnes on drums proved to be the catalyst for solidifying Middle 8's line-up.

Ron Barnes was born in nearby Hammond, Indiana, and has always called the Chicago area his home, save for his years studying at Berklee and some gigging with saxman Ernie Watts. As a session drummer he has played on hundreds of local band recording projects and is no stranger to live performances around town. In the last several years he has sat behind the kit for The Bad Examples many times. It was while playing in the Examples that Ron first met Jim Workman, who was serving as a substitute lead player.

Jim Workman was born in Columbus, Ohio, but was raised in Florida. As a teen he was first inspired by Jeff Beck and began touring regionally in a successful original rock band. He would also develop an affinity for country music's premier pickers: Don Rich (of the Buckaroos) and Glen Campbell. Eventually he moved to Chicago and joined the regionally-popular Cathy Richardson Band.

During some of their sub gigs with The Bad Examples, Ron and Jim would talk about forming their own band. At the start of the Middle 8 sessions, Jim recalls being called up by Ron, "He was bragging about how great this duo's songs were. He thought I'd love the music as much as he did and he wanted me to play on the tracks with him. He was so right about the material!" Ron and Jim had found Brian and Andy and thus Middle 8 was born during those first days of recording at Uberstudio, and has grown strong as a live band on stages throughout Chicago during the last year.

Brian Sheridan, Andy Perostianis, Ron Barnes, and Jim Workman present 43 minutes and 43 seconds of classic harmonies, melodies, and musicianship on their debut album, Ever Since Ever.

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