Grampa's Chili
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Grampa's Chili

Santa Cruz, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1993 | SELF

Santa Cruz, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1993
Band Rock Jam




"Vibe Tribing with Grampa's Chili"

Late as always, especially after navigating Monday night rush hour into San Francisco, and breathless from walking several blocks uphill in the dodgy Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood, we met friends and dashed into the Regency Ballroom eager for an evening of amazing Peter Gabriel-era progressive rock from original Genesis lead guitarist, Steve Hackett. We made our way to our seats through the smoky, dimly lit crowd of die-hard prog rock fans and introduced ourselves to the guy sitting next to us.

Cue Twilight Zone theme: Another close encounter with a rockin’ neighbor…it was Victor Manning, guitar player and vocalist for local jam band, Grampa’s Chili.

Born in the Bay Area and adopted by the Santa Cruz Mountains, this legendary group of players is more than a band; they’ve created their own community attracting generations of people from all over to their shows to groove together. I met Victor for a sip one afternoon in February at Boulder Creek Coffee Roasting to dig into the meat and potatoes.

‘Chili has a long history starting in the 1990s with original members from Old Dead Bug, The Bliss Ninnies, and Soup and they’ve kept a following of fans from the early days known collectively as the “Vibe Tribe.” When they realized there was another band called Soup out there, the group renamed themselves Grampa’s Chili in honor of a friend’s culinary prowess and the new name seems to be sticking.

The current incarnation of Grampa’s Chili includes Mike Boston (vocals), Jerry Brown (bass, vocals), Tom McQuillen (guitar), Michael Palladino (drums, vocals).

Victor is a comparatively new member of the band who spent a few early formative years in London where he learned to play the piano, and later back in the States did time in a Texas DJ booth spinning jazz and learning “the difference between just hanging and understanding things.” He grew up listening to his dad’s jazz LPs David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Roland Schaeffer (Guru Guru), Peter Wolbrandt (Kraan), Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, Steve Hillage (Gong), Trey Anastasio (Phish), and Ed Wynne (Ozric Tentacles) to name a few. To say he’s enthusiastic about eclectic types of music is one way to put it. As he was adding Gulf Coast Blues, English folk rock and German prog rock to his list, he laughed and said “I guess I’m a bit of a tune snob…but I can see the error of my ways.”

Victor said, “Band members have come and gone over the years, but they’d leave their songs behind,” so there’s a deep archive of classic material and songs that never got finished. “Songs are like children, you can’t force them to be something they’re not, they’ve got to take their own direction.” The band is also going through a prolific period of writing new songs, and the new material wants to be played. Victor says he loves the technical ecstasy of being in the studio and he’s excited to help inspire ‘Chili to focus on recording a new album some time in 2015. “I feel like we’re getting back on our feet, putting on new boots.”

Grampa’s Chili knows how to build their own spectacle, make their own scene. According to Victor, “We’re all ‘heads’ and don’t know what we can’t do.” They like to go out of their way to make the synergy special and a little out of hand. So expect chunky Rock-n-Roll with some Americana spice, wavy gravy grooves, and some serious late 20th Century Santa Cruz Mountain boogie crackling with energy.

Don’t miss Grampa’s Chili at Lovefest 2015 on Saturday, March 21 at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall – A Bona-Fide Santa Cruz Mountain Vibe Tribe Tribal Vibration. - Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin

"Love Your Local Band"

Grampa’s Chili is certainly an odd name for a band, and the members of said local psychedelic jam outfit have multiple explanations for it.

The actual story behind it: The group, which started in the early ’90s, was originally known as Soup, but needed a new name because there was another band with the same name. A friend of theirs—whose nickname was “Grampa”—made some chili, and they thought, “that’s it!”

Of course, that doesn’t really explain why the name is right for them.

“When you think about chili, it can be anything, it can be everything. There are all kinds of chilis. That’s kind of how we approach music,” says vocalist Mike Boston. “Anybody can bring any idea into the band and throw it in the chili pot. All ideas are good ideas—until they’re bad.”

The elements include hard rock, country, folk, psych, literally anything. The only real consistent thread is that the group stays a jam band, with the emphasis on shaping and molding the tunes into loose, laid back tunes for each show.

“We love playing live. We love playing a three-hour show. We love the energy,” Boston says. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say that everything’s unwritten. Everything is written; it’s just not scripted.”

Currently, they have upwards of 75 original songs ready to go at any upcoming show.

“We try to make every show totally original, so that you can go to three shows in a row and see something different,” Boston says. - Good Times Santa Cruz

"The Band "Grampa's Chili" Is Ready For The Next Phase"

San Francisco bay-area band Grampa’s Chili which got its start in the early ‘90s has been re-energized recently and the group is ready to tackle the music industry.

With a full-length album in the making, plans to travel around the west coast and a new vision in sight, the men of Chili seem optimistic about their future and grateful for the music that is still played today.

For 20 plus years, Grampa’s Chili went through lineup changes more often than baseball teams go through pitchers. But, over time two things have remained constant – the memorable songs which still leave lasting impressions in their fan’s hearts and an amazing energy that is created on the dance floor every time they play.

Early on, the band knew that pairing with other acts in the jam scene was beneficial to creating a tight-knit community that helped attract crowds at their shows. Bands like The Blissninnies, Old Dead Bug and Corduroy Jim have been teaming up with Grampa’s Chili and they are all thankful for the relationships that have been created and the history that they have shared together.

According to the bands website, “Grampa’s Chili has been simmerin' their unique blend of meaty Rock-n-Roll with some Americana spice and a ladle full of Mountain Boogie with a side of Dance Rock music. Chili’s music is fun, infectious, and it will bring a swing to yer hips, a tap to your feet, and a hoot-n-holler from the bottom of your belly.”

Singing for the band is Mike Boston who has great stage presence and is amazing front man. By the nature of the music, long jams happen frequently and Boston is eager to go with the flow when following along with the music. Boston, who has been with the band from the beginning is one of the main voices for Grampa’s Chili.

On drums is Michael Palladino who has also been with the band since its inception. Palladino hits hard, he sings like a pro and is the backbone of the band. He’s also easy to talk to, has a big heart and wants nothing more than continued success for himself and his band-mates.

Playing bass for Chili is Jerry Brown who is arguably one of the best bass players in the entire bay area. Brown’s tone is huge, his creativity is unique and his lead lines are full of melody and drive. I was completely surprised at Brown’s playing ability recently and it was a treat watching him weave in and out of each song.

On lead guitar and vocals is Tom McQuillen who isn’t as aggressive as his counterpart, but definitely eloquent in his solos and style. McQuillen is committed to everything he sets his sights on and is a driving force in the community.

Playing keys for the band is Steve Hunt who doesn’t need any introductions if you are a part of the Santa Cruz music scene. Hunt has been hosting grass-roots music festivals at his sprawling property in the Santa Cruz Mountains for years. He’s also a bay area musician and one of those guys who pours his heart and soul into everything he does when giving back to the jam community.

Also on lead guitar and vocals for Chili is Victor Manning who arrived to California in the late ‘80s, but didn’t waste any time fitting in. Manning plays hard and shreds with his instrument through every song. He and I spoke before his show at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on May 3rd. I learned about his history with several of the bay area bands and what his plans are for the coming year. Manning has learned from his experiences over the years and is carefully planning his next move. It must feel great to have a new album on the horizon and I am sure the guys are feeling it too.

It’s possible that Chili fans these days have moved on or are embracing something new. But, with a lot of hard work, the band has the power to bring it all back with a fresh and new take on many old and memorable songs.

Look for Grampa’s Chili in the coming months as they release their new album and announce their upcoming shows.

Interview with Victor Manning, May 3rd -


CD: Grampa's Chili
DVD: Grampa's Chili - Bring a Bowl - Live in Felton



Grampa's Chili is one of the Bay Area's most popular original jam bands performing throughout Northern California and the West Coast.

Based in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains of California, Grampa’s Chili has been creating their own psychoactive blend of jazz, rock, bluegrass, funk and west coast psychedelia that thrives on intelligent songwriting, exploration and liberal doses of serendipity. . 

A Grampa’s Chili show is a celebration of positive vibes, rockin’ jams, warm smiles and unbridled joy!

‘Bring a Bowl, Bring a Friend’

Band Members