Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints
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Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Country Rock




"Musician who once played with Aerosmith, Buddy Guy kicks off Rialto's Local Music Monday series"

Jeff Givens has spent years traveling the country, playing drums in his 20s in open jams with Aerosmith's Joe Perry in Boston and Buddy Guy in Chicago and switching to guitar a decade or so ago to bolster his songwriting.

The intrepid Jim Beam-drinkin' singer/songwriter with three albums under his belt and an honest tale behind every lyric has lived in Alabama and his native Tennessee and more recently returned to Park Forest where he was raised.

His home away from home, though, is Joliet where the music scene surpasses those he's stumbled upon elsewhere.

"It's something I've never seen before and I've been playing for 40 years," said the 1980 graduate of Rich East High School who once painted houses belonging to Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson. "Joliet has way better musicians per capita than Chicago. It's like a mini Nashville. And Mike Trizna and John Condron have a lot to do with it."

Trizna owns Chicago Street Pub, home to original musicians, craft beer and food in downtown Joliet, while Condron, a former business partner, is a Joliet-based musician who's toured the states and well beyond, spreading the word about Joliet's scene wherever he goes.

"Chicago Street Pub and Mike Trizna support local musicians like nobody else," Givens said. "He doesn't care about making money. He wants artists to make money."

In early 2017, Trizna partnered with Joliet's historic Rialto Square Theatre to give local original artists another platform beyond his own small but revered stage. Local Music Monday was born, with Condron among nine artists or groups featured in three successful concerts over three months.

"Given the concept, music and a few beers on a Monday, not traditionally a big day to go out, we were pleasantly surprised with the public's response to our first go-around in 2017," said Valerie Devine, the Rialto's executive director. "Mike Trizna is a great partner and I can't say I would have taken a Music Monday chance with anyone else."

Local Music Monday returns to the Rialto Feb. 26 with Givens and his band the Mugshot Saints headlining, and support from Bridget & Garrett and the J Ross Green Band.

Garrett Degnan is a multi-instrumentalist from the Leadfoot Band while Jon Ross Green "is just insane and the closest thing Joliet has to a rock star," Trizna said.

"Bridget Cavanaugh can sing like a dove or sound like the devil," he said, adding she performed at his pub's Fat Tuesday party with the Big Lagniappe, a New Orleans-inspired band from Joliet who will take the Rialto stage March 26.

Joining them for Local Music Monday is Miles Nielsen & the Rusted Hearts.

"They do not sound anything like Cheap Trick," Trizna said of the band fronted by the son of Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, "but have a rock and roll/pop quality. Every song sounds different from the one before it."

On April 23, the second annual concert series with a $20 cover will culminate with two local bands to be announced shortly and a high school group, possibly a cappella or hip hop.

"I'm trying to be inclusive and to let people know they can approach me," said Trizna, who quickly points out his wife/business partner Kathy does half the work involved in booking artists and contributing toward a revitalized downtown Joliet. "Local Music Monday isn't about promoting ourselves or the bar. We're trying to help others live their life.

"When musicians work, stagehands work. Every time we do this it hopefully makes other bars and restaurants in downtown Joliet busier. People cleaning floors and waiting tables have work and get paid. Our circle of friends is people who enjoy helping others."

That motto means acts like the Steepwater Band who the Trzinas gave a helping hand when they were starting out will now return to play the pub while on tour at 600-seat venues or the Chicago Blues Festival.

"The more bands we have play, the more bands call us to get booked. I have artists from Cincinnati and Nashville and Iowa calling to ask to play because they heard about our venue from others who tell people on the road," said Mike Trizna, admitting he himself has no musical talent. "I do have an ear. My (late) grandfather (Norm Cipolle) helped raised me and taught me to appreciate something I can't do. We went to over 200 shows together."

Local Music Monday, he says, is another way to pay it forward.

"These bands who've been playing bars their whole lives get to play one of the best venues in the world," said Trizna, noting 10 years ago then-management at the Rialto turned down his idea. "The Rialto's acoustics are fantastic and the newer sound system is amazing."

"We couldn't be more excited," said Givens, who has seen Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt at the Rialto. "A lot of bands are getting the opportunity to play that hallowed stage. And my current lineup is the best lineup of any band I've had. My little country band became a kick-ass rock and roll band somewhere along the line."

The Mugshot Saints are keyboardist, musical director and producer Jason Botka; his wife Jennifer Botka on vocals and keyboards; drummer Luke "Loop" Smith, a Homewood native now living in New Lenox; and bassist Johnny "The Rev. Johnny G" Gadeikis (formerly of the Righteous Hillbillies), of Mokena, with fellow Park Forest resident Billy McClain occasionally on harmonica.

The lineup released "Bleeding Ink" in September with, naturally, a gig at Chicago Street Pub. Givens, the Botkas and guest artists banded together for the Saints' first album "Midnight in Muscle Shoals" (2014), which was partly recorded at the historic FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

In 2012, Givens released his solo debut "Bourbon Cowboy."

All albums were recorded at Botka's Skye Bleu Studios in Villa Park.

Aside from a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Willie the Wimp," the Rialto set will feature all original music.

Givens writes what he lives and admits he has "no filter" when it comes to it. Song material captures the divorcee's short-lived relationship with a stripper from Kansas ("Waiting in Chicago"), dear friends falling out of love ("How Could You") and high school sweethearts ("Seven Hot Memphis Nights").

"Every word, every lyric, every strum means everything," said Givens, who once owned a trucking company. "I've lived that song. I don't create characters."

The song "Last of a Dying Breed" is an ode to his 83-year-old father who still rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to visit relatives in Clarksville, Tenn., several times a year.

"Big badasses will be crying," he said of when the Saints play that one at large biker festivals where outlaw country might be more the vibe than roots rock.

The Saints have performed at Grape & Grain in Homewood, Friendly Tap in Berwyn, Reggie's in Chicago and Frankie's Blue Room in Naperville.

The band also was chosen among musicians on the networking platform Sonicbids to headline the Bud Light Stage at the 2017 Taste of Chicago.

"There was a sea of people," Givens said of the Taste, "and I had to hold that crowd with only my songs. And I did."

Vickie Snow Jurkowski is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

Local Music Monday
When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 26 with Jeff Givens & the Mugshot Saints, Bridget & Garrett and J Ross Green Band; March 26 with Big Lagniappe and Miles Nielsen & the Rusted Hearts; and April 23 with three bands to be announced.

Where: Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St. in Joliet

Tickets: $20 general admission; available at the Rialto or Chicago Street Pub, 75 N. Chicago St. in Joliet

Information: 815-726-6600, or - Chicago Tribune


Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints are a swampy-rock, bluesy-country band with original music crafted around ball-busting hooks and heart-wrenching lyrics; the equivalent of a musical 8-ball, without all the repercussions. Singer-songwriter and troubadour-gypsy Jeff (The Bourbon Cowboy) Givens, is your master of ceremonies, along with his lovely side-kick and conscience, vocalist Jennifer (Momma Jen) Botka to provide true 'Dolly 'n' Porter' banter along with their heartstring harmonies. Tearing it up, is the baddest band in all the land: Luke (Loop) Smith on stopwatch-dropping drums, bassist Johnny (The Rev. Johnny G) Gadeikis holds it down smooth and can marry couples after the show, too. The Mugshot Saints' musical director, producer and true North, Jason (Mista Bocka) Botka soars these songs on guitar and also serves as keeper-of-the-reigns on The Cowboy's crossroads, soul-selling Southern swagger (sometimes a full-time job).
When you bring in Jeff Givens and the Mugshot Saints, you don't just get a night filled with amazing music, where you love each song more than the last, you get a full-on Show - complete with Holler n' Swallers, blue innuendo and the occasional cuss word. The certainty...? Once you see 'em, you won't forget 'em.

photo courtesy of Michelle Shalloo Gadeikis

Like many other great artists in this little world of ours,I had never heard of Jeff Given and The Mugshot Saints until about 2 weeks ago when Jeff contacted me out of the blue and asked me if I would listen to his most recent album and do a few words on it (if I liked it of course). To be honest I was honoured and humbled that he had reached out to me and also that my words had reached Chicago. It transpires that Heather Horton is a mutual friend and she very kindly pointed Jeff in my Heather.
My first reaction was music....don't sound right.

'Singer/Songwriter Jeff Givens is a road-seasoned troubadour. As a contemporary musical gypsy, Jeff travels the country, meeting folks from every aspect of life and listening to their stories. He lives this life, documenting it all in his songs. Somehow, writing through the haze of self-destruction like his heroes before him, (Kerouac, Burroughs, Lennon, Hank, Townes and others) he has prevailed and come out the other side, battling his demons by writing about them. Born in Tennessee and raised in Chicago, Mr. Givens is a music veteran of over 30 years and has played in many bands, from Chicago to Boston to London. Working with Jay Bennett from Wilco was one of his numerous experiences. Back in 2001, Jeff went all-in; he left his day gig and everything else to fully embrace this musical journey. Tramping around America, like another prince of skid row, he began writing songs that defined his life.'

In 2014, Jeff gathered his closest brothers in music for his sophomore album, "Midnight in Muscle Shoals", which was tracked on the sacred ground of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. A founding member of The Righteous Hillbillies, Kev Wright added his southern rock flair on guitar and vocals, and Jason Botka brought in keys, organ, guitar and harmonica. All left the Shoals sessions feeling like they had "been to the mountain". Jeff knew something special had happened next to that Tennessee River, and it needed to continue. Once home, Johnny Gadeikis added his talents on bass and Luke Smith on drums to round out the Mugshot Saints. This diverse band, with many decades of combined writing and touring experience between them, developed both acoustic and plugged in line-ups and started gigging in some of the best rooms in Chicago; the Metro Chicago and Schubas to name just a couple. The Saints draw from outlaw country, southern rock and rock, blues and folk influences to create their multifaceted sound. Part Allman Brothers part Stones, with some Van Morrison and a dash of Father John Misty; The Mugshot Saints put on a show that will rock you to "holler & swaller" one minute, then with some old school folksy blues, you'll be crying in that same beer the next. There have been a few adjustments to the band since 2014.

Let me introduce you to the band:







So..the album.
'Bleeding Ink' is 12 songs produced with no sense of filler or fluff to be found anywhere.
The best way to enjoy the album is to throw away the notebook, park the analysis and kick back with your hands clasped behind your head. Bleeding Ink immediately possesses a spring in its step to be that missing album you've been seeking. In fact, this record has an added effect of taking you back in time to when music had a more innocent appeal and concentrated airplay provided the opening to the masses. Sadly, those times are a distant memory meaning records like this have to scrap hard to be heard. Those who do cross its path though are in for a real treat.

From the intro of the first track, 'LOVE BRINGS YOU HOME', I knew I was going to enjoy the rest of the album, it was instantly gratifying and intriguing in the best kind of way.

'BLEEDING INK' is a must have album for fans of music, not just of one genre. This entire album is generous with its 12 tracks all of which are well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable. I love tracks such as Throwin' Money,You And Me,Midnight Train and Seven Hot Memphis Nights.

Jeff answered a few questions too:

What or who inspired you to become a musician ?

John Lennon

Who influences your music and it's sound?

Bruce Springsteen, The Stones, Elvis Costello

Describe your music in 10 words.

Roots rock, with a splash of country

What motto or advice do you go by?

Go big or go home

Describe your song writing process.

Live, write, repeat

What has been your funniest moment on stage?

When I was backing up taking a pic of the band, went tumbling down the stairs
and sticking the landing!

What can people expect from your shows?

Great songs, and a great show

What is your zombie apocolypse plan?

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition

You can only take 1 album to the afterlife, what would you choose and why?

Springsteen's The River. Because it covers the dynamic gamut!

Any message for new fans?

Get in, and hang on! - Robs Raw Music

"JP's Music Blog"

Country/swamp-rock band Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints return with their new album titled "Bleeding Ink." It features a dozen tracks, beginning with the honky-tonk, country rocking rhythm of "Love Brings You Home" and the southern swing of "Seven Hot Memphis Nights." Jeff showcases his Springsteen-side with "Love Is What You Do," before slowing down for the acoustic-based ballad "Beautiful Dead End Love." Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints finish up their new album with Jennifer Botka taking the lead vocals on the country swing of "You And Me," before they close out with the Americana/roots of "Midnight Train" and the clap/stomp rhythm of "Six Foot In The Ground." To find out more about Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints and their latest release "Bleeding Ink," please visit - JP's Music Blog

"Classic Sounds Abound on New Jeff Givens Album "Midnight in Muscle Shoals""

If seasoned troubadour Jeff Givens had written “make a kick-ass rock record” on his bucket list, he could now cross that off.

The drummer-turned-singer/songwriter has self-released his second full-length, Midnight in Muscle Shoals. The basic tracks were recorded by John Gifford III at legendary Fame Recording Studios in northwest Alabama’s famous home of “The Swampers” rhythm section, where the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Duane Allman laid tracks.

Midnight in Muscle Shoals is full of wailing guitar licks, lushly layered vocal harmonies and sweetly selected instrumental accompaniments atop tight drum tracks. Fans of southern rock will find a lot to like about this record, Givens’ follow-up to 2012’s Bourbon Cowboy.

If Midnight in Muscle Shoals sounds a lot like a record by The Righteous Hillbillies, that’s because all the tracks feature guitarist Kev Wright, who recently left the band, and drummer Barret Harvey. The connections don’t end there. The Hillbillies also recorded their new album at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and Givens’ touring band, The Mugshot Saints, includes former Hillbillies bassist Johnny Gadeikis. T.C. Dolgin plays bass on the record, Jennifer Botka sings backing vocals and Pat Otto lends mandolin to a couple tracks.

Like recent recordings by the Hillbillies, the songs on Midnight in Muscle Shoals sound like they belong on any of the 1970s-era albums by The Rolling Stones. Wright’s slick slide guitar work and Harvey’s crisp beats propel the tracks, which are produced by Givens’ longtime collaborator Jason Botka. Many tracks were added at Botka’s Skye Bleu Studios in suburban Chicago.

At its best, Midnight in Muscle Shoals is an ideal soundtrack for a long ride on a highway. Tracks like “Long Weekend” and “Hard Livin’” are not only expertly performed by gifted musicians, they’re delivered with Givens’ honestly passionate vocals. The melodies are catchy and the music’s fantastic. The songs are about recurring working-man themes, including drinking in bars and paychecks not going far enough.

Givens is a Tennessee native who was raised in the Chicago area, where he continues to make his home. He calls himself a “rock and roll gypsy,” and an “authentic prince of skid row.” While performing, he’s been known to command an audience to “holler and swaller” by first whooping, then drinking.

Musically, Givens worked as a drummer for many years, and his songs are informed by real-life experiences on the road. His resume includes performing with guitarist Joe Perry of Aerosmith, blues legend Buddy Guy and the late Jay Bennett of Wilco.

“Everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a dream, I’m filling up this notebook with what happens in between,” he sings on “Livin’ the Dream.”

Givens writes all but one of the 12 songs on “Midnight in Muscle Shoals.” While the songs are sonically superb, one will be disappointed if he seeks Dylan-like depth in the lyrics. This record is reminiscent of a Ringo Starr album in that one can take ordinary, everyday songs, get some fabulous musician friends to record them and end up with great-sounding music that eventually lands you in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Givens’ songs are honest, authentic reflections of his life.

“The most difficult ones are the most intimate ones,” he told WXAV-FM 88.3 in a radio interview. He went on to describe how “Last of a Dying Breed,” a song on the new record, was written about his 80-year-old father, who still rides his Harley thousands of miles a year. “It was a real emotional process,” Givens told the interviewer.

Writing good songs isn’t easy, regardless of what anybody says, and only a gifted few can do it consistently. Equally challenging is recording a full-length album of timeless sounds that are worth listening to over and over again, and Givens might have accomplished that with Midnight in Muscle Shoals. - No Depression

"Jeff Givens - Midnight In Muscle Shoals"

The songwriting of Jeff Givens on Midnight In Muscle Shoals hits the listener like a pretty woman's smile, a sweet evening breeze, and a hellish hangover all at once. Givens has navigated the dark corners and dreary corridors of the American dream, "one nightmare at a time," as his pulp poetry puts it, and he's lived to sing about it in style. Evoking the outlaw masters of Waylon Jennings, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Jerry Jeff Walker in voice, spirit, and turn of phrase would prove sufficient for most singer/songwriters, but Givens did not stop there. He went to Fame Studios, and brought on his bus, guitarist Kev Wright, who weaves the sound of Exile on Mainstreet and channels the spirit of Second Helping into the brutally beautiful mix.

As American music becomes more homogenized and pasteurized, listeners starving for authenticity and advancement of the rock 'n' roll-country-Americana tradition will find a full course meal on Midnight in Muscle Shoals by Jeff Givens.

- David Masciotra, author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Metallica by Metallica (a 33 1/3 book from Bloomsbury) - Dave Masciotra (Author - University Press, Bloomsbury,

"Jeff Givens: Crazy Heart Comes to Falmouth"

Boy, does Jeff Givens have some stories. Whether it’s his story of “the note” with Urge Overkill’s Nash Kato, his “Torches and Pitchforks Tour” through the Midwest, or his casual account of jamming with Buddy Guy, this drummer-turned-country-rock singer/songwriter has seemingly done it all.

But above all else, one thing is clear when listening to his adventures: Givens loves music.

Givens—also known as "The Bourbon Cowboy"—currently has his horse tied up in Falmouth while he eagerly awaits the release of his debut solo album, Bourbon Cowboy.

Born in Tennessee, Givens was not a typical Southern kid.

“I hated it,” Givens answered when asked about his affinity for country music. “I totally rebelled against the heritage, so I didn’t dig it at all.”

That rebellion led him straight out of Nashville in 1979 to play drums in numerous bands across the country. As times began to change, however, so did Givens’s outlook on his roots. He started including the guitar in his repertoire—and one fateful night he ultimately made the decision to fully embrace his country background.

“I’m in Chicago, watching my little TV,” he explained. “The country music awards were on. So, I started looking at the bands, not the singers, and when you’re looking at the bands [you notice] they’re all old rockers like me. And I’m like, ‘Old rockers don’t die, they just go to Nashville!’ ”

Bourbon Cowboy recorded at Skye Bleu Studios in Chicago, is a culmination of many things for Givens, who plays both guitar and drums on the album. But having been on the music circuit for so long, he knows better than to let success measure his value.

“I hope it’s successful, but if it’s not I don’t need that validation,” he said. “I already like what I do. I’ve known so many great players that will never get noticed and no one will ever hear from them, but they were terrific—brilliant—so you can’t get hung up on that validation.”

While the self-described “gypsy” is only on the Cape temporarily, Givens hinted that he is willing and able to jump up onstage for open mics; so keep a look out for him before he rides off into the sunset with one more story to tell.

- IO Cape Cod

"Jacques LaMore Ep. 14: Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints"

Online radio interview - Bangarang Radio

"Jeff Givens New Solo Album 'Bourbon Cowboy' to be released Summer 2012"

Jeff Givens aka Bourbon Cowboy will be releasing his new solo album recorded here at Skye Bleu Studios (Villa Park, IL).
Mastering to be done by Blaise Barton -- Joyride Studios Chicago, IL
We just have a few finishing touches (Keys and Backing Vocals) to add then finish the mixes and we are off to the races.
Release date: January 15, 2012 - Skye Bleu Studios LLC


Bleeding Ink (Released September 30, 2017)

Midnight In Muscle Shoals (Released July 4, 2015)

Bourbon Cowboy (Released October 31, 2012)

Previous Projects:

40 Star --2017
Premium Plastic by Phil Rockrohr and The Lifters (2000)
(Produced by Jay Bennett of Wilco)
"Top rock release" - WXRT Chicago
"Top 5 Unsigned bands" - Spin Magazine

Gold Star (1995)
40 Smokes (1993)
The Lap Dogs (1991)
Danimal and The Wild (1988)



Jeff Givens and The Mugshot Saints are a swampy-rock band with original music crafted around ball-busting hooks and heart-wrenching lyrics; the equivalent of a musical 8-ball, without all the repercussions. Creator, lead man and troubadour-gypsy Jeff (The Bourbon Cowboy) Givens, is your master of ceremonies, along with his lovely side-kick and conscience, vocalist Jennifer (Momma Jen) Botka, provide a little banter along with their bullseye harmonies. Tearing it up, is the baddest band in all the land: Luke (Loop) Smith on stopwatch-dropping drums, bassist Johnny (The Rev. Johnny G) Gadeikis holds it down smooth and tight. The Mugshot Saints' musical director, producer and true North, Jason (Mista Bocka) Botka soars these songs on guitar and also serves as keeper-of-the-reigns on The Cowboy's crossroads soul-selling Southern swagger (sometimes a full-time job).

            Jeff and the Saints were proud to be selected as the 2017 Taste of Chicago's Sonicbids Artist and had a blast headlining the Bud Light Stage at the Taste. The Saints have been busy barnstorming some of the best venues in the Chicagoland area for the last couple years: Metro, Schubas, Martyrs', Reggie's, Elbo Room, Q Bar in Darien, Frankie's Blue Room in Naperville, Chicago Street Pub in Joliet.

            The band recently finished their third album, "Bleeding Ink". For this epic, The Saints returned to legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL to capture the vibe, ghosts and swamp palpable in the planks of this music mecca. They came home to Skye Bleu Studios in Villa Park to sweeten up the vocals and add in the sugar tracks (Cowboy does love his sugar - you should see him fix coffee!). Off to the legendary Joyride Studio for mastering and then decked out with inspired photos from Michelle (Mama Galloo) Gadeikis, "Bleeding Ink" is a culmination of the best of all of us; the crown of the Cowboy hat. In addition to an incredible catalogue of original material ranging from Bourbon to heartbreak, strippers to Christmas, The Saints also cover a deep well of artists: the Stones, Tom Petty, CCR, Stevie Nicks, Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Allman Bros, Bowie, Traveling Wilburys and many more. When you bring in Jeff Givens and the Mugshot Saints, you don't just get a night filled with rocking music, where you love each song more than the last; you get a full-on Show - complete with Holler n' Swallers, banter and the occasional innuendo. The certainty...? Once you see 'em, you won't forget 'em.

Band Members