The Stellanovas

The Stellanovas

 Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA

The Stellanovas play "cafe jazz"--intimate, swinging, original, dynamic music accompanied by unique instrumentation (see line up instrumentation). Duo, Trio, or Quartet. Originals plus inventive interpretations of classic jazz standards and eclectic pop.


The Stellanovas are an acoustic jazz ensemble from Madison, Wisconsin. Comprised of veteran musicians who have recorded and performed with musicians as various as U2, The Smashing Pumpkins, Willy Porter, Taj Majal, The Indigo Girls, Koko Taylor, Ray Charles, Delbert McClinton, Greg Brown, Peter Himmelman, Asleep at the Wheel, and the Subdudes, the duo at the core of The Stellanovas (the husband/wife team of Mary Gaines and Chris Wagoner) have been performing together for almost two decades. The duo becomes a trio and a quartet by adding the intense soloing of Ed Fila on guitar and the very groovy Mr. Jim Huwe on drums.

Mary Gaines (Cello, Vocals):
Originally a jazz guitar major at the University of WI-Stevens Point, Mary truly found her musical voice studying jazz cello under the tutelage of the great Richard Davis (bass player with artists ranging from Sarah Vaughan to Van Morrison) at the UW-Madison. Mary is also known for her amazing voice--often compared to Bonnie Raitt, but definitely her own. She (along with her husband, Chris Wagoner) has done extensive work as a session musician, appearing on albums such as Smashing Pumpkin's "Gish", several Freedy Johnston, Willy Porter, and Carrie Newcomer albums, and scores of others.

Chris Wagoner (Violin, Accordion, Ukulele, Vocals):
A founding member of Madison's Harmonious Wail, The Common Faces, and The Moon Gypsies (the latter three co-founded with Gaines), Chris has had his foot in just about every musical circle in Madison. Classically trained as a violinist, Chris met Mary while attending the UW-Madison. Switching to an alternating diet of jazz and classical violin studies, while playing in bands ranging from rock, blues, and country, to folk and jazz, Chris has been an in-demand performer and session musician in the region for almost two decades.

Ed Fila (Guitar, Vocals):
After graduating from North Texas State's highly lauded jazz department, Ed migrated back up north to Wisconsin (after a stint in Chicago) to show us how it's done. Due to his versatility and good-humored nature, he has long been a first-call sideman in groups and sessions. Chris and Mary first teamed up with Ed over ten years ago while playing for a house party and have been looking for an excuse to play together ever since! In addition to The Stellanovas, Ed performs regularly with his group Next Exit, co-leads The Ed Anders Quartet with saxophonist Anders Svanoe, and is the newest member of the new gypsy-swing group, Caravan.

Jim Huwe (Drums):
Jim Huwe has been a multi-genre drummer for 26 years. His dynamic and sensitive approach have allowed him to work with the finest Midwestern musicians in the jazz, pop and folk spheres including many popular Madison-based groups: The Common Faces, The Stellanovas, Bob Westfall, Madison Jazz Orchestra, Swimming Pool Blue, Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, The Swing-O-Matics, John Becker, Ed Fila's Next Exit, The Ed Anders Quartet. Jim has also performed with jazz vocalist great Dianne Schuur and opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan.

A Partial List of Venues (with various ensembles):

The House of Blues (Chicago)
Int'l Folk Festival Hallein, Austria (Headliners)
The Bluesman (Vienna, Austria)
The Barrymore Theatre (Madison, WI)
Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI)
Bastille Days, (Milwaukee)
The Grand Theater (Wausau, WI)
The Freight & Salvage (San Francisco, CA)
Taste of CO (Denver, CO)
The Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle, WA)


"The Groovy Sessions" -- recorded during the autumn of 2006 at Royal Oaks in Sun Prairie, WI. Personnel: Mary Gaines: Cello, Vocals; "Groovy" Jim Huwe: Drums and Public Service Announcement; Chris Wagoner: Violin, Viola, Ukulele, Hawaiian Guitar, Vocals. This recording was as fun to make as it sounds. All vintage jazz material from some of the great jazz composers--Ellington, Monk, Gerschwin,
and Louis Jordan as well as a couple surprises by Harry Nilsson and original lyrics by our ownMary Gaines.

"Cafe Jazz" -- recorded live at the Cafe Carpe, Fort Atkinson, WI on Dec. 1, 2005. Additional tracks were recorded at Royal Oaks in Sun Prairie, WI, and at the University of Northern Iowa's "Live from Studio One" show in May 2005. Personnel: Ed Fila: Guitar; Mary Gaines: Cello, Vocals; Chris Wagoner: Violin, Viola, Accordion, Vocals. This first 11-song self-titled recording features six original works by individual band members.

Set List

Along with a variety of instrumental and vocal originals, The Stellanovas perform creative arrangements of standard jazz, latin, and early rhythm & blues material ranging from Louis Jordan, Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt, and Thelonious Monk, to Metheny and Harry Nilsson. A typical club performance will be 3-50min. sets. A headlining concert performance in a club or at a festival will typically be one 60-90 min. set.