House Blend
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House Blend

Band Rock Acoustic

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"Local band produces music true to its identity ... and earns WAMI nomination"

You could say that House Blend is living up to its name … a deliciously concocted brew, blending vocal harmony, acoustic and electric guitar, and destined to appeal to all tastes.
Formed in the winter of 2004 by Cedarburg High School students Mike Dixon, Bryan Dorsey and Stefan Benkowski, and originally known as “The Dixon, Dorsey, Benkowski Trio,” the band’s refreshing sound and vocal harmonizing was a hit in the Cedarburg/Milwaukee area, and soon had droves of fans eagerly following from venue to venue.

As might be expected, the band experienced some growing pains along the way, involving several changes in musicians, but the sound didn’t suffer. Indeed, it seemed to get better with time. So much so that recently, House Blend was nominated for the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) “Best New Artist/Group of the Year” for 2008 … a huge honor, especially when one takes into consideration that none of the members is over the age of 20. As everyone points out, the competition to break into the music scene is fierce.

Two of the original members still very firmly on board are Dixon on guitar and vocals, and Dorsey on bass, who is also the band’s front man on vocals. They have recently been joined by Tom Elmendorf on drums and Karl Lemke on lead guitar. Dorsey says, “Tom’s dynamic playing style will provide a rock-driven foundation, while Karl’s guitar playing will add a layer of complexity that the group has never seen before.” Incidentally, the two new kids on the block also happen to be CHS graduates. The old adage, “If you find something that works, stick with it,” seems to be working well here.

Let’s recap House Blend’s past history for those who might not be familiar with the band. It recorded and released one self-titled CD in 2006, choosing Milwaukee native Willie Porter’s studio to accomplish this feat. Porter’s engineers helped capture the sound
House Blend was looking for ... and while the band made sure it still retained its refreshing acoustic quality and vocal harmony, a stronger rock influence was also introduced. Dorsey describes the new sound as “pop rock, somewhere between Coldplay and John Mayer. It’s something people will like a lot,” he predicts.

By his own admission, Dixon does the majority of the songwriting. “I sit down with the guitar or piano,” he says. “I write some of the lyrics, the basic writing, the structure, the backbone of the songs. But in terms of how the songs turn out – everyone writes their own parts for their (particular) instruments. Everyone adds their own little flair and makes it their own. So it’s really a group effort.”

Over the years, House Blend has played all kinds of gigs, ranging from benefit concerts at Cedarburg High School, to large festivals, such as Milwaukee’s Bastille Days, as well as everything in between. Dixon says, “Last year we played at the Bayshore Town Center summer concert series, as a member of the ‘Fresh Face Showcase,’ a showcase for up-and-coming bands, and we also served as one of the opening acts for Third Eye Blind at The Rave.”
This summer, the group is hoping to extend its touring capacity. So far, it has already booked gigs at Watertown Riverfest, Bastille Days and Cedarburg’s own Strawberry Festival, plus many others are in the works. Eventually, the members hope to add venues in Illinois and Minnesota to the mix.

If anyone is wondering how the band manages to hold it all together, seeing as Dixon is currently at school in Philadelphia and the other three are here in the Milwaukee area, Dixon admits it takes a fair bit of planning. “We actually work all year,” he shares,
“writing songs, lining up shows and so on. Then we rehearse and perform in the summer.” And, as often as he can, Dixon makes a point of heading back to the Milwaukee area. “We practice, we play, we take photos and just enjoy being around each other,” he says.

When the band members heard that House Blend had been nominated for this year’s WAMIs later this month at the newly restored historic Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee they couldn’t believe their ears. “We are so thrilled to be recognized,” states Dorsey, adding, “It’s a huge honor.” Researching the other groups nominated in their category — The Buskers, Greg Waters and the Broad Street Boogie, Twelve.Ounce.Prophet and Grey Leaf — they learned that some of the bands have been around a long time. “We found out that we’re the youngest by about 10 years,” Dorsey says. As if being nominated isn’t enough excitement for the four musicians to deal with, House Blend has also been asked to perform at the awards ceremony.

“We’ll be performing one of our favorite songs,” shares Dixon, “a song that was new last summer, called, ‘Don’t Look Down.’” And because the band is in the process of evolving, fans can expect a few changes. He promises, “We will unveil the new sound at the WAMIs.”
- Ozaukee County News Graphic


"Local band wins a WAMI"

On Monday, April 28, many musicians and industry notables were recognized for their contributions to Wisconsin's diverse music scene at the 28th Annual Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards Show. Among the recipients accepting awards at the historic Turner Hall Ballroom was "House Blend," a local band from Cedarburg. In existence since 2004, the band is currently comprised of Mike Dixon on guitar and vocals, lead vocalist Bryan Dorsey on bass, Tom Elmendorf on drums and Karl Lemke on lead guitar.

Dixon, one of the band's original founders and the major songwriter for the group, said the band was thrilled to be recognized at this prestigious gathering of fellow musicians. He added, "We would also like to recognize former members Jordan Blackmer and Ted Lueders for the role they played in the band's success in receiving the nomination, and ultimately, winning. They put their hearts and souls into the group over the last two years to get us to where something as awesome as this could happen."
In addition to receiving a WAMI for Best New Group/Artist, House Blend was also asked to perform during the event. The band's rendering of a song called "Don't Look Now" was very well received. - Ozaukee County News Graphic


"Local band to hold benefit for Africa mission trip"

On Friday May 12, from 9:30p.m.-11:30p.m., instead of hymns emanating from Community United Methodist Church on Evergreen Boulevard, the rafters will ring with music from “House Blend”. The local band highlights the talents of four students who currently attend Cedarburg High School – Mike Dixon, on acoustic guitar, Bryan Dorsey playing bass, Jordan Blackmer on drums and djembe, and Ted Lueders on lead guitar. “Three-part harmony is used in one way or another in every House Blend tune,” says Blackmer, who shares lead vocals with Dixon and Dorsey, and describes their sound as both acoustic and harmony-driven. “In addition to the use of acoustic guitars and hand-drums,” he emphasizes, “the band has developed an organic, yet catchy sound.”

A member of Community United Methodist Church in Cedarburg, Blackmer is one of a group of 10 youths and two adults leaving on a two-and-a-half week mission to trip Kenya, Africa. “We are rebuilding a schoolhouse from inside to out,” he explains. “We’re taking gardening supplies and seeds to help start a large garden for the school, and we’re also taking supplies for the school and village.”

Friday’s concert was one idea Blackmer came up with to raise money for the mission trip. And, looking for an opportunity to hold a release party for their new CD, the other three members of House Blend were more than happy to jump onboard and make it happen. Also appearing at Friday’s concert will be Mosquito Hollow String Band, Tori Robertson, and Ted Lueders.

“The $5 admission will be donated to the mission trip,” confirms Blacker, adding that House Blend will also be selling copies of their new CD. Recorded at Willy Porter’s Milwaukee studio, “The Engine Room,” the CD costs $7 and proceeds will help the four students, three of whom are college bound, recoup studio expenses. “We’ve really grown over the last year, as we began writing,” says Blackmer. “We’ve found our niche and are pushing forward with our original sound.”
- Ozaukee County News Graphic


"Caffeine buzz"

After winning the 2005 Ozaukee County Battle of the Bands as high-schoolers, the future of Cedarburg band House Blend has been perking up. That led to other gigs and a six-track CD of original songs recorded at musician Willy Porter's studio. "Since the CD, we have played 22 shows in a 3 1/2 month period," says House Blend's Jordan Blackmer.

House Blend is on a temporary hiatus as many of the members are at college but will be back together next summer to play at Summerfest. One of the founders of the band, Cedarburg grad Stefan Benkowski, is currently touring with the Madison-based band, The Profits. - "M" Magazine


"Last chance for fans to tune into “House Blend”"

“House Blend,” the popular Cedarburg band that wowed the judges at the Ozaukee County Fair when they took first place at Ozaukee County’s Teen Battle of the Band, will have their “final hurrah” before members take a break and go in different directions.

“We’re looking to go out with a bang,” says Jordan Blackmer, drummer for the group and one of the lead vocalists. “We’ll be playing all of our original music, plus songs that have been fan favorites, like renditions of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” Other members of the band are: Mike Dixon on acoustic guitar and vocals, Bryan Dorsey, bass and vocals, and Stefan Benkowski playing keys, acoustic guitar and bass. Ted Lueders, who many people may remember as an integral part of the band, has spent the summer working with Winston Music in Dublin, Ireland. And although he will be back in the States on Aug. 18, rumor has it he will be otherwise employed at Irish Fest and will not be able to get back to Cedarburg in time for the concert.

House Blend’s sound, described as “acoustic and harmony driven,” has earned rave reviews over the last year. Twenty three shows in an eight month period have definitely kept the four teens rocking, and Blackmer reports that their CD has already sold over 400 copies. For those who haven’t yet purchased a CD, copies will be available at the cultural center this Friday for $7.

Wondering what the future holds after Friday’s performance? Dorsey will continue his studies as a senior at CHS, Dixon is off to the University of Pennsylvania to study business, Benkowski has decided to take a year off school and tour with a band called The Profits, and Lueders is flying back to Dublin where he’s accepted a job as sound technician. As for Blackmer, he says music will definitely always be in his future. Interested in managing and promoting bands as a career, he will be majoring in music business at Greenville College, Ill.

Fans who would like one more chance to listen to these four talented singers/songwriters should head to the Cedarburg Cultural Center, W62 N546 Washington Ave., on Friday, Aug. 18. Doors open at 7:30p.m., the concert begins at 8p.m. and tickets cost $5. Joining “House Blend” on Friday evening will be several guest musicians – Parker Walton of Cedarburg, and “Thick as Thieves,” an acoustic duo from Baraboo.
- Ozaukee County News Graphic


"WISCONSIN AREA MUSIC INDUSTRY ANNOUNCES 2008 NOMINEES"

New Group/Artist: House Blend; The Buskers; Greg Waters and The Broad Street Boogie; Twelve.Ounce.Prophet; Grey Leaf. - www.wamimusic.com


Discography

Don't Look Down EP (2008)
1.) Let Go
2.) Don't Look Down
3.) Disappear
4.) Reflected In Glass
5.) I'll Try

Hanging EP (2007):
1.) Hanging
2.) A Toast

House Blend Self-Titled EP (2006):
1.) Run Away
2.) A Dream
3.) Planned
4.) Hello
5.) Let Go
6.) One Year

Photos

Bio

House Blend is like a breath of fresh air in the Wisconsin music scene, combining a widely accessible sound that appeals to both young and old alike, and was named WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Best New Artist/Group of the Year in 2008. The band is led by the smooth and powerful voice of front-man, Bryan Dorsey, and is guided by the heartfelt writings of Mike Dixon. Based on a solid musical foundation, the music features intricate vocal harmony, and claims influence from bands such as Coldplay, Guster, and CSNY. These aspects, combined with the powerful drums and soaring guitar riffs of Tom Elmendorf and Karl Lemke, create an irresistible, musical sensation.

House Blend was formed in the winter of 2004 by Mike Dixon, Bryan Dorsey, and Stefan Benkowski, originally known as “The Dixon, Dorsey, Benkowski Trio”. Soon after, they picked up drummer Jordan Blackmer and renamed the band “House Blend”. Following a summer spreading their refreshing, acoustic sound throughout the Milwaukee area, Stefan left the group to join “We The Living”, a band based out of Madison, Wisconsin, currently touring nationally. House Blend then welcomed Ted Lueders, a local solo acoustic artist, into the band. Ted’s one-of-a-kind playing style brought a fresh perspective and new ideas.

After a string of successful local shows, charity fundraisers, and Battle of the Bands contests, House Blend took their sound to the studio to record their first EP at Milwaukee-native Willy Porter’s studio. Porter’s engineers helped capture the essence of the House Blend sound: strong, yet organic acoustic music overlaid the stunning vocal harmony. Over the next year the EP sold several hundred copies as they lightly toured Southern Wisconsin playing outdoor music festivals, private venues, and coffee shops,.

The summer of 2007 proved to be an important year for the group, which committed itself to raising its level of musicianship and professionalism. The music retained its refreshing, acoustic quality and focus on vocal harmony, but added accessibility by increasing the amount of rock influence. House Blend revamped its existing set list and added new original tunes. This change in philosophy paid off, as the band booked bigger and more exciting shows at venues such as The Rave, Milwaukee Bastille Days, and the Bayshore Town Center. These efforts fueled an increase in their fan base, as well as in interest from players in the local music scene, culminating in being named WAMI Best New Artist of the Year for 2008.

For the summer of 2008, House Blend was forced to reinvent itself again as Jordan Blackmer and Ted Lueders decided to part ways with the group and pursue their dreams further away from home. Soon after, Tom Elmendorf and Karl Lemke joined the group. Tom’s dynamic playing style now provides a steady yet awe-inspiring drum foundation, while Karl’s guitar playing adds a layer of complexity that leaves listeners wanting more. The band again expanded its show resume adding venues such as the M&I Classic Rock Stage at Summerfest, Whitefish Bay Summer Sounds, Watertown Riverfest, and opening for Darryl Stuermer at Cedarburg Summer Sounds. House Blend has set its eyes on growth in the future as they take the steps necessary to mature in their music, stage show, and business practices, with the main goal to continue producing music true to their identity. From their captivating stage show, to their undying love for their fans, House Blend is on their way, and they invite you to come along for the ride.

Show resume available upon request.