Gregg Hall
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Gregg Hall

Band Blues Singer/Songwriter

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"Trempealeau Hotel to host the Third Annual Bandit County Fair"

Trempealeau Hotel to host the third annual Bandit County Fair

By KARI KNUTSON | Lee Newspapers

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TREMPEALEAU, Wis. — Gregg “Cheech” Hall has been going to the Trempealeau Hotel since he was just a kid.

“It’s been my favorite place since I was little,” Hall said.

His parents would drop him off for its annual Blues Bash and Reggae Fests. Hall would absorb the music and the atmosphere.

“It’s a hidden treasure — a little piece of paradise,” Hall said.

That’s why he says it’s the perfect setting for the third annual Bandit County Fair, named after his La Crosse band the Smokin’ Bandits. Also performing are world music band Down Lo and outlaw country The White Iron Band, both from the Minneapolis area. The first two fairs were held at a big barn.

“It was mostly word-of-mouth,” Hall said.

The fair also serves as the Bandits’ release party for its second CD, “In the Grain.”

It was recorded at Natural Recording Studio in La Crosse.

The Smokin’ Bandits celebrated their fourth anniversary last week and will tour this summer, making stops at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and Dogstock Festival in Kansas in July at the Feel Good Festival in Amherst, Wis., in August.

- Kari Knutson June 7, 2007


"Cheech' Hall, The Feelin' Band to release new CD's- May 1, 2008"

Cheech’ Hall, The Feelin’ Band to release new CDs

By Geri Parlin | La Crosse Tribune

You’re probably used to seeing Gregg “Cheech” Hall in one of the bars on Third Street, but for a CD release party with The Feelin’ Band, he’s moving a couple blocks closer to the Mississippi River. Advertisement

They will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Pump House, 119 King St. Hall will be releasing “Acoustic Tracks,” and The Feelin’ Band will be releasing “The Sacred Play of Life.” Tickets are $10 plus tax in advance and $13 at the door and are available at the Pump House.

Hall is a familiar presence on the local music scene, playing with the Smokin’ Bandits, the Peacheaters (Allman Brothers Tribute), Mitgee Evers, Clock and the Super Deece Band. Hall and the Bandits will host their fourth annual Bandit County Fair (www.myspace.com/banditcountyfair), featuring more than 20 bands, June 13-15.

The Feelin Band, through energetic live shows, has been making strong connections with thousands of fans. The band consists of Nicholas Mrozinski, (songwriting, vocals and keys), Sammy Weyandt (guitar) of The White Iron Band, Jeffery Engholm (bass) of George Maurer Jazz and Collective Unconscious, and Paul Grill (drums) of The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.

Driven by Mrozinski’s vocals and flowing piano, the four-piece soul-rockers sound like a combination of Van Morrison, John Legend, Blind Melon and Dr. John.

For more information or tickets, call the Pump House at (608) 785-1434.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: CD release party by Greg “Cheech” Hall and The Feelin’ Band

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10

WHERE: The Pump House, 119 King St.


COST: Tickets $10 plus tax in advance, $13 at the door, available at the Pump House.



- Geri Parlin


"My life in Five Songs April 12, 2008"

My Life in 5 Songs: Gregg "Cheech" Hall


Though no one’s life can be told in five songs, they can give you a bit of a glimpse about who they are and where they’ve been. Advertisement

Gregg “Cheech” Hall is one of the hardest working musicians in the area. If you haven’t seen the La Crosse musician perform, it’s not because you haven’t had the opportunity. The guy loves to play, and play he does — often. You can see him perform this Saturday at 9 p.m. with Mark Grundhoefer of the Twin Cities band Down Lo at the Trempealeau Hotel, 150 Main St., Trempealeau, Wis., (608) 534-6898.

Hall’s band, The Smokin’ Bandits, will also host the fourth annual Bandit County Fair June 13-14 in Romance, Wis. Joining the Bandits are Fat Maw Rooney, Houses In Motion, Joe and Vicki Price, Stealin’ Strings, Shoeless Revolution, Super Deece and the Confectionary Treats, TUGG, Chuff, Ginger Presley and more to be announced. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thesmokinbandits or www.thesmokinbandits.net.

Here is Cheech’s life in five songs:

“Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” by Neil Young. This song is my favorite of all time. It symbolizes, to me, my life growing up in the Coulee Region and how so many of my friends had to move to Colorado or out to the coasts after high school to get out of this “small/boring” town. I just think that a lot of folks I know/knew take the natural beauty of the Midwest for granted. They are trying so hard to look for something they thought they needed to find when it was here all along. The funny thing is, I have been to these places and I love this area the best of all.

“Liberty St.” by Gregg “Cheech” Hall and co-written with the late, great Randy Hembd. Randy was one of my best friends in the world. He passed away five years ago. He taught me the blues and how to play slide guitar. He also got me started in the local scene. But he would always write down little sayings he would hear people say or that he would just come up with throughout the day. He’d write them on Post-It notes and keep them in his wallet. I bet he had 50 little yellow pieces of paper in that wallet. But one day he showed me one that read “Liberty St., where people run away to and crazy people meet.” Liberty Street is located deep in the heart of historic North Side La Crosse, where we lived. So I took that note and built a true story song around it. I wrote it as a memorial for my best friend whom I think about and miss every single hour of every day.

“Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers Band. The first time I heard it, I was blown away. The slide guitar was something I was always amazed by. Duane Allman, being one of my biggest influences, was one of the best. A lot of people don’t know this, but Duane was a studio guitarist for a lot of famous artists such as Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett, Derek and the Dominos, Clarence Carter, Delaney and Bonnie, King Curtis, Aretha Franklin — he’d pretty much play with anyone that was willing to let him, and everyone did. When I hear that opening riff, it just gives me the chills every time and makes me want to grab my guitar and play along with him.

“Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. If there’s anything I love more than the blues and slide guitar, it’s four-part harmony, and no one does it better than Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It’s amazing how these four individuals can blend so beautifully after almost 40 years. Also the amazing talents of all of them individually are so different and the product that comes out when those styles collaborate is just simply breathtaking.

“Homegrown” by Neil Young. I grew up on an organic hobby farm, so it reminds me of planting potatoes, picking raspberries and strawberries in my dad’s ginormous garden. Running barefoot all summer through the woods and the creek. Growing up in the country and living off the land.




Tell us what you think...
Comments »
dan berger
wrote on Apr 16, 2008 9:15 PM:

" I met his Dad first, he told me my son plays a little drums and a little bit of guitar. that was a long time ago.He came along with his dad and sat in with brad barney and myself and we had a ball. I would have to say he's come along way from them days.He really has alot of talent.Playing music and holding down a full time job is a challenge but when its in your blood its what you do. Go get em cheech "



Cyndi Hall
wrote on Apr 11, 2008 7:22 PM:

" Growing up in Gods Country the first 38 years of my life I know what Gregg is talking about the area. I also had the privilage of watching Gregg from the time he started playing his fathers guitar and banjo just after walking to standing on his tip toes pounding on his mothers piano. From those early years he always had a love for music. I am now in Branson, Missouri where music is everywhere. But all my adventures back home find me venturing to LaCrosse to listen to Gregg in one of his bands. Music he loves to sing and especially sharing the sounds with his audience. He is a very talented young artist. I look forward to his next 5 songs sharing his stories of all his new adventures in music. "






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- Kari Knutson


"Back in the Spotlight 6/30/05"

Gregg "Cheech" Hall doesn't really remember the first time he played at Riverfest.
He was only 8.
Luckily, his parents have a picture of him performing as Elvis Presley that appeared on the front page of the LaCrosse Tribune to remind him.
The next year he performed as, Garth Brooks at "Puttin' on the Lips," a lip-sync competition he took pretty seriously. So seriously he tried to con his mom into buying one of those cool looking headset microphones like Garth had.
It didn't work. Mom made him get creative with a hanger instead.
Hall's musical tastes have changed greatly since then, but his love for performing hasn't.
"It's the only thing I've ever been really good at," Hall said. "It's just what I do.
Hall will perform with Super Deece at Riverfest from 2-4 p.m. and then with the Smokin' Bandits from 5-7p.m. Monday July 4 at Riverfest in LaCrosse.
Later this summer, the Smokin' Bandits will play at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, MN.
Hall, 24, often plays as many as 20 gigs a month. At 10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, you'll find him hosting weekly open jams at Del's bar in LaCrosse.
"Country, bluegrass, heavy tune, blues, sappy ballads- I try to mix it up," Hall said.
Hall has seen the jam grow in the three years he has been doing it, with many musicians coming from out of town. He once played at the jam after driving all the way back from Colorado the same day.
"It was fun," Hall said.
He grew up listening to lots of classic country and moved onto the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead when he was thirteen.
Hall bought his first guitar for $80 at a pawn shop. He preferred the Fender Stratacastor to the trumpet he played in middle school.
The decision to become a musician was almost immediate. When he was at Aquinas High School in LaCrosse, he started writing songs, looking to musician Neil Young for inspiration.
When Hall isn't playing gigs, he's busy studying marketing at Western Wisconsin Technical College. He has been warned he's going to burn himself out from being so busy, but Hall isn't worried.
"This is part of my life that's never going to change," Hall said. "I love playing. There's nothing in the world I'd rather do."

Kari Knutson can be reached at kknutson@winonadailynews.com
- Kari Knutson, Winona Daily News


"Meet the Musicians- Live to Live-March 30, 2008"

Gregg ‘Cheech’ Hall

As a member of the Smokin’ Bandits and as a well-known solo player around town, Gregg “Cheech” Hall has made the round of venues, whether it’s a jam at Del’s or playing with a full band at The Joint.

“La Crosse is a gem as far as musicians go. There are so many talented individuals in this town, it’s sick,” Hall said.



He grew up in La Crosse “watching musicians like Jimbo Zill, Randy and Billy Hembd, Jeff Sherin, Dave Rogers and many others. When I turned 18, the Hembds (Billy, Randy and Lucas) took me under their wing, and I started playing out at local establishments. Through them, we all just kept playing and playing and playing.

“Now I am hosting open jams at Del’s Bar on Mondays and the Animal House on Tuesdays. I have played with just about every musician in town and consider all of them good friends.”

Hall recommends open mikes as the best way to get started and to meet other musicians.

“From there, you’ll find people who want to play and collaborate with your style. Then just practice and practice.”

Smokin’ Bandits will host its fourth annual Bandit County Fair on June 13-14 in Romance, Wis.

“Smokin’ Bandits has accomplished more than I ever thought possible. We’ve played at such festivals as 10,000 Lakes, Hookahville, Campout Roots, Log Jam, Harvest Fest and countless others. We’ve done tours in Connecticut, Arkansas, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Michigan and Illinois.”

But like many musicians before him, Hall finally accepted a full-time job. He works in the Cashton Distribution Center at Organic Valley Farms and, yes, he will have health insurance.

“I was working at Leithold Music, but I quit to pursue my music in the summer of 2007. So from May 2007 until February 2008, my steady income was music and CD sales,” he said.

“I took this job (at Organic Valley) because I knew it was a fantastic place to work. I could have kept playing full time, but it was time for a break. But it took almost a decade to get established enough to make an OK living. Now, with my job, I can pick and choose gigs a little more, which is nice.”
- Geri PArlin


""Bandits hit the road for Smokin' gigs out west" 10/16/2006"

Bandits hit the road for ‘Smokin gigs out West

By Kari Knutson | live! wire

Colorado is a long way to go to play music, but for the members of La Crosse band The Smokin’ Bandits, it’s well worth the 14-plus-hour trip. ADVERTISEMENT

This month, the band heads to the Centennial State for its third tour there. The Colorado gigs came with a little brotherly help. Smokin’ rhythm acoustic guitarist Christian Staebly’s brother is in Boulder, Colo., band Great American Taxi and helped set up some gigs.

The band was surprised how many folks from back home are living out there.

“You’d be amazed,” Smokin’ lap steel guitarist Gregg “Cheech” Hall said. “The crowds are always good.”

Each trek there, the band makes more Smokin’ friends and fans. The band is even playing a friend’s wedding in Colorado on this tour.

“We have a good following out there,” Hall said. “Everyone is overly friendly.”

Hall says Staebly does most of the driving. “He’s the father figure of the band,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hall, lead guitarist Pat Ferguson, drummer Matt Mahlum and bassist Nic Lanzel kill some time in the Ford Excursion van playing video games and watching movies. “Almost Famous” and “The Blues Brothers” are a couple of favorites, although they also try to get in a few horror flicks and Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead videos.

Hall says the Smokin’ Bandits are heading in a more rock ‘n’ roll blues edge direction but are still keeping in touch with their bluegrass roots. “The next album isn’t going to sound anything like the first one,” Hall said. “It’s definitely going to rock a lot harder.”

The band will play much closer to home from 7 to 11 p.m. this Saturday at the Trempealeau Hotel’s 20th anniversary party in Trempealeau, Wis. There will also be a raffle with proceeds going to the Trempealeau Library and the Craig Brommerich Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Hall has been to plenty of shows at the hotel.

“I love that place — I’ll pretty much go see anyone there,” Hall said.

If you can’t make that show, or don’t feel like driving 14 hours to Colorado, check out www.thesmokin bandits.net. The band is playing plenty of smokin’ shows, although it will take a short break in December and January. Hall is getting ready to become a dad in mid-December. “The support team is huge,” Hall said. “I’m ready for it.”

You can also mark your calendar for Dec. 31, when The Smokin’ Bandits play with Winona’s Northwoods Band for a New Year’s Eve show at the Vibe in La Crosse.
- Kari Knutson


""Bandits to release new CD at Nov. 23 party" 11/22/05"

The Smokin' Bandits will have a CD release party at 9 p.m. Wednesday , Nov. 23, at 324 live, 324 Jay st.
The band's new CD, "Walkin' Thru," features Reggae Billy Grass and blues n' roll music and is available at Deaf Ear records. for $10.
The band members are Christian Staehly, PAt Ferguson, Dan Buddazewski, Nick Lanzel, and Gregg "Cheech" Hall.
For more information see www.thesmokinbandits.net. - LaCrosse Tribune


Discography

2001- Mitgee Evers: Where the Greenest Grass Grows
2004- Smokin' Bandits: Walkin' thru
2006- Gregg Hall: ...down on Liberty St. -a collection of work
2007- Gregg Hall-Acoustic Tracks
2007- Smokin' Bandits-In the Grain
2010- Down Sweet Home

Photos

Bio

A bluesman by trade this 29 year old has been playing regional and nation wide for the last 10 years. Hall performs weekly at various local establishments. He's been on tours in AK, CO, MN, WI, IA, NB, ND, OH, IL, and WY with his band the Smokin' Bandits. He has performed at 10, 000 Lakes Fest in 2005 and 2007, Fall Hookahville 2005, Harvestfest fall 2005 and 2007 at Harmony Park, Campout Roots Festival, and many other national festivals. Over the years and band changes he has shared the stage with Widespread Panic, Trey Anastio, Black Crowes, Great American Taxi (featuring Vince Hermann of Leftover Salmon), Little Feat, and Donna the Buffalo, Ekoostik Hookah, Dr. John, Hackensaw Boys, Dark Star Orchestra, Keller Williams, Willy Porter, Jazz Mandolin Project, and countless other regional bands. He has also opened for LaCrosse legend Bill Miller several times. Aside from blues, he also plays a wide variety of originals and covers. He has powerful loud n' proud Blues-slide guitar style collided with a gravelly yet soulful voice. His most credible influences are first and foremost the Allman Brothers Band, Neil Young, Elmore James, Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and the Beatles. His solos shows are a mixture of old salty dog delta blues, hard acoustic rock, folk, and many other surprises. His current projects are the Smokin' Bandits" (www.thesmokinbandits.net) and "the Super Deece Band" (www..myspace.com/gregghallmusic).