About the Henhouse Prowlers
Ten years in the making, Chicago’s Henhouse Prowlers have built a reputation for hard work and non-stop touring, playing music inspired by the roots of bluegrass while branching out into a sound uniquely their own. From lightning fast picking, to sentimental ballads—playing storied original material, traditional songs, and contemporary covers—The Prowlers’ live show leaves no one wanting.
Their most recent album “Breaking Ground” grew out of collaboration and time well spent, having completed it within months of multiple cross-country US tours and the band’s third trip to Europe. Produced by Greg Cahill (Grammy nominated band-leader of Special Consensus), with special guests Josh Williams (of Rhonda Vincent and the Rage) and Anders Beck (of Greensky Bluegrass), this recording packs punch after punch.
The band recently performed with the US State Department on two separate trips in five different countries in Central and West Africa, as well as heading back to Europe in the spring of 2014 for their largest tour abroad to date. The Prowlers continue to push the envelope with their highly original songwriting, tight arrangements, and electrifying stage presence. With the bluegrass mantle on their shoulders and the best fans in the world by their side, The Henhouse Prowlers are here to stay for a long, long time.
Ben is a founding member and banjo player of the Prowlers. At 23 he bought a banjo on a whim in 1999 at the legendary Old Town School of Folk Music. Within weeks he fell under its spell and spent several years making up for not discovering it sooner. Ben played in several bands before forming the Prowlers including the popular Chicago Americana outfit, Outlaw Family Band. Ben plays a 2013 Deering Terry Baucom model banjo, uses GHS PF155 Custom Light banjo strings, and has a Hoffee Carbon Fiber Case.
Hailing from Sycamore, IL (just west of Chicago), Dan’s musical education began with nine years of Suzuki method classical violin lessons with the head of the Northern Illinois University Suzuki Strings, Ann Montzka-Smelser. After enrolling at the University of Illinois (where he earned a degree in Ethnomusicology), he joined with the Corn Desert Ramblers bluegrass group in Urbana, IL (in 2006). This was the start of a wonderful adventure of performance music including live shows with them and other groups in town for over five years. Dan was excited beyond expression to join the Henhouse Prowlers in 2012 and has embraced with open arms the start of another great bluegrass adventure!
As a founding member of the Henhouse Prowlers, Jon has been supplying the bottom end and sharing vocal duties in the band since its formation in 2004. Born in Chicago to a trombone playing father and an opera singing mother, Jon first learned the stand up bass in his Jr. High School orchestra. Since reviving his bass chops in 2000, he has performed in jazz, rock, and funk ensembles including MWC, and folk and bluegrass ensembles such as The Back Porch Ramblers. Jon is also adept on the electric bass, tuba and harmonica. He has guested on several recordings including Brian Walker’s Lookin’ For Light.
Starr is 26 years old and grew up in Milwaukee, WI. He originally played mostly electric guitar but switched to acoustic after discovering celtic and bluegrass music in high school. Before joining the Henhouse Prowlers, Starr played in several local bands in Milwaukee including O’Shytte’s (Celtic rock) and String ‘Em Up (bluegrass). Starr is influenced primarily by the bluegrass genre, but also celtic and old-time styles. After learning from great musicians at festivals across the country, he relocated to Chicago after spending time abroad and on the West Coast working in Latino Advocacy. Starr plays a Collings acoustic guitar and is excited to be playing with the Prowlers.
The Prowlers in School
While not on stage performing or on the road touring, the Henhouse Prowlers have long been avid instructors on their respective instruments in the Chicago area. Recently, the Prowlers have found a way to simultaneously merge these two key components of their careers as musicians.
In April 2011, the quartet debuted its comprehensive bluegrass curriculum to elementary and intermediate schools throughout Evanston, Illinois. Through four weeks of hour-length assemblies and performances in the schools, they perfected their group instruction of the basics of bluegrass and the importance of this music in American cultural history.
More About The Henhouse Prowlers In Schools