Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements
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Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Folk Acoustic




"An Emmy Winning Comedy Writer Turns Singer in Her Sixties"

Tracy Newman had the kind of career comedy writers dream of. She wrote for Cheers, won an Emmy for co-writing the coming-out episode of Ellen and co-created the sitcom, According to Jim. In the third season of Jim, she left the show to write music and perform.

What is your best day at work?

When the judgmental, defeatist side of me doesn’t stop me from pursuing an idea for a song. When I can overcome that voice that reminds me of my age and my “chances” of any kind of “success” in the music industry. When my passion for expression is louder than my “practical” side, which reminds me we’re all going to die, so why create anything. I’m not kidding. I fight that every day. “Go clean out a drawer. No one wants to hear another one of your songs.”

(Please go to article URL for the rest of this article.)

- AARP on line magazine

"Sundown on Sunset: Tracy Newman"

Sundown on Sunset: Tracy Newman
Vol. 6 Issue 75
Music by Sean Patrick, West Hollywood

The only time you can really tell what direction your life has taken is when you look back. Starting out, it’s never easy to tell where you’ll end up, but if you keep yourself open, and continue to love what you do, you’ll find outlets and successes branching off the main root, that may have some of the biggest flowers.

Tracy Newman performing at M Bar in Hollywood. Photo by Sean Patrick.

I was invited out to the M Bar in Hollywood to hear award winning songwriter Tracy Newman, and the more I learned about her, the more I began to realize what an incredible series of turns her writing has taken her.

From Emmy and Peabody Award winning television writer (“Cheers”, “The Drew Carey Show”, “Ellen”) to accolades and awards for her songs, Tracy is one of the budding stars of songwriting that, for a moment, you’re fooled into thinking she’d spent her career singing.

It always endears an artist to me when I feel a genuine sense of love for what they do, combined with an innate humility. I find that almost anyone can get a bit of a big head when the phone starts ringing with offers, and my favorite ones are always those who have the confidence to keep at it while exuding a grateful attitude, just because you showed up.

A very nice woman with a broad smile greeted me at the door. My name registered with her as being on the list, and she brought me past the person taking money. She asked if I’d like to sit down immediately, but I declined for the moment, as I wanted to look around, and get a feel for the place.

I was later embarrassed to find that this had been Tracy herself, and all that time I thought I had been receiving excellent service from the staff of M Bar! It didn’t hit me until I saw the same woman sitting down to tune her guitar on stage. Oops. We had a laugh about it after the show.

And then there was the music. Before they even started, I noticed a mandolin, and an upright bass. Tracy sat on a stool with her guitar, and chuckled with her players.

When she began to play, the band and Tracy’s songs brought us out of Saturday night, and into a lazy Sunday morning with a very folk feel, with lyrics and melodies that had a sophisticated smoothness. It was part KCRW, and part Prairie Home Companion.

Tracy Newman performing at M Bar in Hollywood. Photo by Sean Patrick.

I always hope for at least one song that will stick with me, and Tracy’s set list grew, one after the other, until I had to call the whole set a memory.

“I Just See You” is a lullaby for a couple. We live, we eat, we love, and as we go, we begin to realize that bills and responsibilities, the prescriptions and the yard, draw us away from who we thought we were when we started out.

“Let me be your looking glass, look at me when you walk past, and see yourself the way that I do. I don’t see young, I don’t see old, I just see you.” There was a sense of eating a well-made cake; all the ingredients, in this case the players (Gene Lippmann, Rebecca Leigh, John Cartwright, John O’Kennedy and Doug Knoll) and the harmonies blended so well, you couldn’t tell how long it took to bake it. It was just there, filling the house with home.

The narrator sees her partner, and steps in to protect him from looking too hard in the mirror. She rescues him from the moment, and brings him back to the day they met. “On the days when it feels like the mirror doesn’t love you, remember I do.”

There are no fireworks in Tracy’s show, no thumping beat and no flashing lights. There is only a heartbeat, and a sense that you want to keep feeling the way you do, right now. It’s a gift that brings your own life to her songs, and it’s no leap to find she won First Place in the Indie International Song Contest’s Folk category.

One of Tracy Newman\'s sidemen performing at M Bar in Hollywood. Photo by Sean Patrick.

It is, of course, not all Sunday morning. The life she brings to her music includes the dysfunction, and it’s more Saturday night with “Fire Up The Weed”. “I’m embarrassed to say this relationship works because we never talk, except for ‘make me some eggs, bacon and toast’, and ‘aren’t you gonna wear socks?’”

Here we are in that longtime companionship with someone with whom we communicate more on a non-verbal level. “This must be the way we want it. This must be what we need. I’ll make the martinis, you fire up the weed.” It’s not a giving up; it’s a settling in. Oh, this one is flawed, but we’ve let it be what it is.

“I opened the door, patted the seat, and said ‘get in the car.’” These two rescued each other from the last flawed relationship, only to drift through this one. But it’s enough. “Fire Up The Weed” won first place in The Great American Song Contest.

Throughout the show, there were laughs, and a real connection to the audience. Tracy Newman’s true gift seemed to be not only a common bond through her perfo - WeHoNews


Emmy-winning comedy writer returns to her first love—music

You might not know her name, but you probably know her work. In 1997, Tracy Newman won an Emmy for co-writing the historic “coming out” episode of Ellen DeGeneres’ ABC sitcom, “Ellen.” In 2001 she was co-creator of the eight-season hit sitcom “According to Jim.”

She’s more than a comedy writer, however. In fact, in addition to being one of the first performers in the groundbreaking Los Angeles-based comedy troupe The Groundlings (which launched the careers of many “Saturday Night Live” stars including her own sister, Laraine Newman, and Will Ferrell,) and a member of the popular singing group the New Christy Minstrels, she was at one time considered the foremost (and possibly only) female card-manipulator in the world. That means, when you saw a woman’s hands expertly dealing or handling cards in a movie or on TV, they were most-likely Tracy’s hands. In 1974, she shared her expertise on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” first doing a sketch with the legendary host, and then talking cards with him on the panel.

It’s the current phase of Tracy’s life that excites her most, because it’s the most personal work she’s done to date. She’s joined the over-populated, underpaid ranks of singer/songwriters in the Los Angeles area, slinging her acoustic guitar for shows at such venues as Kulak’s Woodshed in Studio City, The Talking Stick in Venice, and Bob Stane’s nationally-regarded Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.

In 2007, along with singers Lorie Doswell and Gene Lippmann—known onstage as the Reinforcements—she recorded the CD, “A Place in the Sun.” Now immersed in the recording of her second CD, Newman takes time to reflect on aging and a life spent in constant creativity.

“I think because we live longer and stay healthier, you need to plan your next occupation while you're entrenched in your current one,” says Newman, speaking over coffee in the spacious Hancock Park home she calls “California Practical.” Her “Ellen” Emmy and Peabody awards are perched prominently on a kitchen shelf. “I love writing songs and the idea that I can get up in the morning, sit at my computer with my beautiful Goodall guitar, and spend the whole day writing and rewriting a song is my definition of winning the lottery.”


Newman, who started playing guitar at age 14 while growing up in LA, began writing songs in her 20s after a surprisingly young teenage stint in the New Christy Minstrels with whom she appeared on “The Vic Damone Show.” In 1964 she moved to New York. She played all the folk clubs including the legendary Bitter End at a time when groundbreaking comics like George Carlin were first making waves, and ultimately decided to pursue comedic acting back in LA as a founding member of the Groundlings. She performed, taught and directed there for 15 years, and it was there that Newman learned the value of rewriting scenes until they were perfect—a skill that would pay off years later when she became a staff writer for classic sitcoms including “Cheers” and “The Drew Carey Show.” Perhaps more importantly, she teamed up with fellow troupe member Jonathan Stark to launch her TV writing career.

“Aside from all the shows we worked on, we wrote eight pilots before ‘According to Jim’ sold. It was a big thrill to have that happen, but it was also mixed with the reality that now as executive producers we were responsible for producing a funny show week after week,” Newman says. “And though I’m proud of the show, eventually the fun went out of it for me, and I moved from producing to consulting on the show after three or four years.”


Newman’s music career is an equally happy challenge. She’s enjoying the feeling of getting back to her early passion and kind of starting over. “By the way, I didn’t stop writing songs when I was working in television,” she says. “I wrote many songs for ‘Ellen’ and ‘According to Jim.’ I even wrote the theme song for a sitcom that stayed on for one season, called ‘Hiller and Diller,’ starring Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon. That was very cool.”

The success of “According to Jim,” with Jim Belushi, allows Tracy to pursue music without having to worry about money. It’s also a pioneering time with Internet marketing, where performers can put out their own music and maybe even make a living. Tracy’s TV credits are a big help in that regard, she says. “But there’s a difference between being a successful writer and being a successful actor who might be recognized for his/her accomplishments. I’ve made this switch to music, but I’m not well-known on sight, so unless someone introduces me as co-creator of ‘According to Jim,’ the audience has no idea of me other than as this older woman who sings her own songs and plays guitar pretty well.”

Newman promises to have as much success with her music career as with her writing. Her song “I Just See You” - Pasadena Weekly

"Tracy Now Sings Her Stories"

Tracy Newman Now Sings Her Stories

by Leah R. Garnett on Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at at 12:47 pm
A former TV writer, Tracy Newman started a new career as a singer/songwriter in her 60s.

A former TV writer, Tracy Newman started a new career as a singer/songwriter in her 60s. Photograph by:

You may not know Tracy Newman’s name, but you likely know her dialogue. She’s a former TV writer who’s written for “Cheers,” “The Nanny,” “Ellen” (with Ellen Degeneres), The Drew Carey Show,” and many others. She and co-writer Jonathan Stark won an Emmy and the Peabody Award for writing the ground-breaking coming-out episode of “Ellen.” The duo then co-created the long-running sitcom, “According to Jim,” starring Jim Belushi. And for Newman’s encore?

In 2005, she left the TV business to become a full-time singer-songwriter. Tracy Newman cut her first CD, “A Place in the Sun,” in 2007. Her second CD is due to be released in early 2010. She’s also recording a CD for children.

A Los Angeles native, Tracy is in her 60s and has played the guitar and written songs since the age of 14. Tracy says that the years of experience creating “stories” within the confines of the 22-minute situation comedy improved her songwriting skills. Now her stories are 3 minutes long, and she gets to sing them. Music After 50 talked to Tracy Newman about her new career, her approach to songwriting, and her next gig.

LRG: I understand that both you and your younger sister, Laraine Newman of “Saturday Night Live” fame, were members of the Groundlings, an improvisational group and theater in Los Angeles. I imagine you weren’t just writing, but acting as well. Did that experience set the stage for what you’re doing now?

TN: Yes. Being in the Groundlings made me comfortable on stage and helped me hone my re-writing skills. TV writing is really about re-writing. So is songwriting. So is all writing. That’s where the hard work is.

LRG: What prompted you to leave television when you did?

TN: I’ve always prepared for my next job while I still had the money coming in for the current one. When we sold “According to Jim,” we had a great staff in place and I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I could get out of television and do something else. I loved writing comedy, but I didn’t want to be going every day to a job anymore. I was burned out from the pressure of shooting and editing a live show every week.

When we sold the pilot in 2001, it was like winning the lottery. I stayed on as a consultant until the end of 2005. I then went to Nashville to study songwriting 101, where I wrote “Waffle Boy.” It’s about a kid suffering through his first day of making waffles at a Waffle House. I tried to give a very detailed description of everything he goes through on his way to triumph. It’s really about a wonderful father-son relationship. I’ve won several songwriting contests with that song. [LRG: listen to it here, along with other songs.]

LRG: I really enjoyed your song “Laraine,” which is about the love and friendship you feel for your younger sister. Do you think mature songwriters tend to write less about romantic love than young singer/songwriters?

TN: Not necessarily. I think all songwriters write about heartbreak, lost love, etc. The best songwriters cover everything, no matter how old they are; they are observant. Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, the Beatles – all influenced what a lot of us write. They certainly wrote a lot of love songs when they were younger, but they also wrote character studies. “A Free Man in Paris” by Joni Mitchell is a good example. It’s a very detailed character study of then agent David Geffen, with a lot of heart in it. It has an emotional through-line. He’s a frustrated man. Everyone is trying to get a piece of him; everyone is begging him for favors. It’s heartfelt; you understand why he’s in Paris.

There’s “For Free,” about the clarinet player on the corner playing for tips. She meant to give money but the signal changed. Such a great comment on all of us. She’s a brilliant observer. She writes about life around her. She was young when she wrote that.

LRG: You mentioned that you’re much less nervous going on stage at 60-something than at 20-something. Why is that?

TN: I think many people feel more at ease…or maybe more accepting of who they are as they get older. When I started singing and playing in clubs again…as I had done in my early 20’s, I practiced and practiced until at least I knew I wouldn’t screw up the technical stuff. Then I wondered for a New York minute… “Jeez, I’m in my 60’s. What’s this going to look like? Who’s going to be interested in what I have to say?” Then, I just shrugged and said, “Who cares?” I am who I am. There’s nothing I can do about it, and as long as I’m interested in what I have to say, maybe someone else will be, too. I think that’s my new motto.

LRG: You m - Leah Garrett - "Music After 50"

"Two Times the Talent"

Two times the talent
The Other Tracy Newman Appears Saturday At Coffee Gallery

By John Sollenberger 08/12/2010

While she’s had a successful career as a television writer and producer, Tracy Newman’s never stopped following her dream of fronting a folk band, which the singer, songwriter and guitarist will be doing Saturday night at Coffee Gallery Backstage with her band The Reinforcements.

Newman has worked on numerous hit shows, including “Cheers,” “The Nanny,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Ellen,” among others. She co-created the hit series “According to Jim,” and she’s a founding member of LA improv group The Groundlings. That group has, of course, spawned numerous talents in the comedy world, including Tracy’s sister, Laraine Newman, of “Saturday Night Live” fame.

But Newman’s first love has been music. Influenced by such folk stalwarts as the Kingston Trio, she started playing guitar and singing at 14. Through all the fame that high-profile television work has brought, she’s never stopped writing songs and she now performs full-time.

Her latest CD is “A Place in the Sun,” available on and

- Pasadena Weekly


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Review by Erika Schickel
Category: Music

Last week I had the pleasure of reading a chapter from my book at Alicia Brandt's hilarious monthly series Women's Night Out. Her show is sort of a cabaret of ordinary female life. Professional women do a show-and-tell on their lives and careers. Guests have included a dermatologist, a sex therapist, a manager from the American Girl Store and an expert in self-defense. Every installment features "Ask A Man" where a man is brought on stage and the mostly female audience can ask him anything they want. The show is funny, sexy, loose and sometimes downright weird. Alicia is an engaging M.C. and The MBar is a cozy and welcoming venue, offering decent snacks and a full bar. It's a nice place to snicker while you get snockered.

Anyway, after I read my lap dance piece (sorry, more shameless plugging but hey -- I've got a book to publicize here, people!) Tracy Newman took the stage with her guitar. Tracy is the Emmy Award-winning co-writer of the "coming out" episode of Ellen. What does a successful television writer/producer do once she has made it? Go back to her first love of course, singing and songwriting, which according to Tracy's website, she has been doing since she was fourteen.

Tracy opened with a song for her little sister Laraine Newman, whom you will no doubt remember from those first, heady seasons of Saturday Night Live. The song is about sisterhood, motherhood, and life after fame. It just grabbed me with its sweetness, love, and 20/20 hindsight on a life once lived in the spotlight. In what I believe may be an LAO first, I am uploading the mp3 here for your listening pleasure.

- LA Observed

""Waffle Boy""

Thursday, March 15, 2007
"Waffle Boy" a winner in The Great American Song Contest
Category: Music

Greetings Tracy Newman,

Congratulations! You are a winner in the 8th Annual Great American Song Contest.

The judges have selected your song 'Waffle Boy' as one of the Top 5 winners in the Special Music category.

Contest results will be posted March 15 on the
Great American Song Contest website, at:

You will receive your 'Outstanding Achievement In Songwriting' award in the next few weeks, along with prizes from the contest sponsors.

Again, congratulations on your excellent songwriting. The competition was particularly strong in your category last year, making your achievement all the more impressive.

All the best in your songwriting endeavors,

Steve Cahill
President, Songwriters Resource Network

- Great American Song Contest

"Letter from a fan - Dec. 2007"

I bought your cd at cd baby 2 weeks back but finally got to listen to it properly last weekend traveling down and back to Tucson in the car. Its an incredible piece of work. You do know how good you are, right?

I don't know where to start, I have so many things to tell you about it. First your voice is so good. Everyone's caught up in pitch and power I say rubbish give me character, story telling ability and subtlety and you have them all! Your voice has such a soothing tone, its easy on the ear and perfect to deliver your lyrical songs.

I heard Diane before on the 'beautiful' cd that's amazing.
Mama I know you ain't Santa is heartbreaking and powerful.
The song about your sister and 'Night Blooming Jasmine' are great too.

I laughed out loud at 'A Place in The Sun'...."I'm not trying to make you drool but there's a TV by the pool" and "you bring your vicodin". truly hilarious. Its your comic timing and delivery too.

Waffle Boy is pure genius.The boys nightmare building to the excruciating moment of the food congealing and children crying then you hit us with a left hook "who cares how a teenagers feeling?" but before we hit the canvas you give us hope.....the waffles on a plate, his smile takes our breath away.....followed by another killer left hook-disaster! the waffle flies like a Frisbee then it hits the egg man in the face AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
What an emotional roller coaster ride....genius.....followed by the amazing pay off. "look what my boy did".

Perhaps this is obvious but the way you say' we are all thinking' and 'our plates' the song of course referring to your fellow customers, but to the listener its a powerful subtlety its like 'our' amplifies that we (listener,audience) are sitting there with you.

I would love to co write a song with you sometime.

Thank you for sharing your gifts in songs.
- Hugh Lelane

"Letter from a fan - 9-25-2007"

Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements debut C.D. A place in the Sun is a finely crafted, richly arranged, collection of poignant, yet slyly, sardonic songs about middle age face lifts, Vicodin, loser boyfriends, a Santa Claus mom, a boy who makes waffles; plus an touching homage to Tracy's famous sister, Laraine Newman of "Saturday Night Live" fame!

The album begins with a enchantingly beautiful selection called "Night Blooming Jasmine", then it winds its way through a series of cohesive tunes that, to this writer, recall the wry humor of Dan Hicks and Lyle Lovett along with the mid-twentieth century cowgirl styles of Patsy Montana, Tish Hinahosa and early K.D.Lang.

"A Place in the Sun", "My kisses are your Kisses", plus the Hawaiian send-off song "Goodbye, Aloha" in particular stand out in this collection of fun and entertaining Americana hipness. Enjoy.

Robby Ravenwood
comedian singer-songwriter
- Rob

"Letter from a fan - 7-11-2007"

Just another note of thanks for hearing more of your songs...My Kisses are your Kisses comes right out of that wonderful style/songbook/era that Dan Hicks brought to my table 34 years ago when I was hanging out with friends and someone put on Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, "Take the Money and Run",...that completely changed my 2 guitar, base and drums only rock and roll stubbornest (even tho "rhapsody in blues" is my #1) to smiling enlightenment...Such high energy cool stuff on acoustics?...oh can you evoke so much energy, story telling, and humour/comedyin an acoustic setting?....
How fortunate for me that moment was, it was at the beginning of my song writing and has carried me on to the day...I'm always using food, places, old cliches as metphors in conveying idea's and ideals in my songs...and it came from that acoustic setting of Dan Hicks and his truly delicious Hot Licks (haha) seemed to come from that era of my grandparents and parents when life was more thoughtful, matter of a fact and anticipated (so colorful).
Sorry if I seem so long winded but I heard that in your voice and words and you made me's just so down home real... look forward to hearing more
Thanks again, yet another new fan...take care.
Lonnie (the dOGbAND) - Lonnie

"Fan Letter 5-2-2007"

DIANE is what i call a Perfect Song. like anything that's perfect, Perfect Songs are extremely rare. I CAN'T MAKE YOU LOVE ME (bonnie raitt) is perfect. A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME (bacharach) is perfect. YESTERDAY is not perfect. a perfect song has a great melody & chorus; the lyrics are true and deep -- hold the sugar, hold the cheese. not one word wasted or one word missing. even if it's sung out of tune with bad hair it sounds like a perfect song.

if this song gets heard, you're golden. also the subject is perfect for this moment in time. and the subject is so E-Z for lazy journalists and marketeers. if i had a song like DIANE -- a perfect song in a commercial genre -- i'd be getting fit for my grammies tux instead of writing this email. go for it!
- P. L.

"It's Never Too Late to Learn Something New"

It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New
February 10, 2008 | Donald Seigel
What would possess a woman, who had already achieved a lion’s share of fame and success in the entertainment world, to sit and wait until eleven o’clock on a Monday night, just to play one of her songs for an audience of seven tired people in a relatively unknown club located at the center of some industrial stretch in North Hollywood? If you’re Tracy Newman the answer is “Love. I love songwriting and I love playing my music for others.”

Tracy Newman started her show business career as an actress. From the seventies on she has been involved intermittently as part owner, director and cast member of the Groundlings, the premier improvisational group and theater in Los Angeles, of which her younger sister, Laraine Newman, of “Saturday Night Live” fame, was also a member. From 1989 to 2004, Tracy was a television writer and producer. Along with her partner, Jonathon Stark, her first staff writing position was on “Cheers.” After that she wrote for “The Nanny,” “Ellen” (with Ellen Degeneres), “The Drew Carey Show,” “Bob” (with Bob Newhart) and “Hiller and Diller” (with Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon).” She and John won an Emmy for co-writing the groundbreaking “coming out” episode of “Ellen.” And, for her television finale, they wrote and co-created “According to Jim” starring Jim Belushi, which is still running today.

But now she dedicates her life to songwriting. It is indeed rare that a veteran with Tracy’s accomplishments is willing to start over and pay her dues in a completely different aspect of entertainment. But that’s exactly what Tracy has done. A guitarist her whole life, Tracy has studied nobly to learn to adapt her storytelling from a twenty-two minute format to a three-minute one.

Tracy credits much of her success to a songwriting workshop that she has been involved in for the last few years, where she has steeped herself in the craft of lyric writing and learned to make every note and word count. Half the songs from her album were written in the workshop, taught by Harriet Schock, a veteran songwriter herself (“Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady”). Harriet is quick to return Tracy’s compliment. “Tracy Newman is a born writer. She observes life and pulls out the meaning, the irony, the pictures and mesmerizes us all with her story telling.”

A few years have passed since Tracy’s return to songwriting, her first love, and with the passage of time and a lot of hard work comes the release of her first CD “a place in the sun.” that she wrote, co-produced and sings along with the Reinforcements, her back up vocalists. Each song on the CD is a unique experience for the listener and incorporates the irony that Tracy has learned to bring to her music. My favorite from the album, a song where Tracy really flexes her writing muscle is “Waffle Boy” where the listener is transported to a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, and placed inside the skin of a boy who by trial and fire is experiencing his first day on the job as the official waffle maker.

How inspirational, that with all her experience and success, Tracy sought out classes and workshops to make herself a better songwriter? If you need proof, her CD can be purchased on iTunes or through Tracy’s web site.

For more information on Harriet Schock’s songwriting classes, browse her profile on Two Smart Dogs. GO!

Browse writing classes on Two Smart Dogs. GO!
- Don Seigel


"A Place in the Sun" 2007

"I Just See You" 2012



Tracy Newman has had a stellar TV writing career. In 1997, she won the Emmy and the Peabody Award for co-writing the ground-breaking coming out episode of "Ellen." In 2001, she co-created the ABC/TV comedy, "According to Jim," starring Jim Belushi. All along she was also writing songs for the various shows she worked on. Tracy plays guitar.

She cut back on TV writing 8 years ago to write songs and perform exclusively. In 2007 she released her first CD, "A Place in the Sun." In 2012 She released her 2nd CD, "I Just See You." She has a full band -- Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements. It's made up of Tracy, Gene Lippmann, Paula Fong, John Cartwright (bass,) and Doug Knoll (drums.)

Band Members