Andy Gundell (guitar/vocals) – Hard as it is for him to admit (and, which he would never do publicly), Andy actually owes a tremendous debt to the Helium Brothers. The band formed in their last couple of years at Yale… started gigging almost immediately on and off campus… and upon graduation, found that they had more work than they could do. So, while most college grads polish off a resume and hit the streets looking for a JOB, Andy hit York Street in New Haven with his guitar and went to work with the Heliums at Toad’s Place, Arcadia Ballroom, and dozens of smokey, dank gin mills which all young musicians aspire to play.
35 years later, Andy still feels like he’s living the dream that the Brothers helped to launch–making a living making music. Along the way, he’s been fortunate to win 13 Emmy awards for his work in television as a songwriter, composer, music supervisor, and soundtrack producer… for clients as diverse as all the major networks, to HBO, to MTV, to the NBA and ESPN.
He spent 2009 producing the score and soundtrack for a groundbreaking language-learning project for Reader’s Digest. In addition, he was nominated for three new PBS Emmys for another homegrown Connecticut project that he’s very proud of, “Voices in Conflict,” a Wilton CT high school play that was cancelled by the Board of Education and subsequently produced by Andy, the teacher, and Connecticut Public Television. He was nominated as the show’s producer for Best Arts/Entertainment Program, and won for Best Composer/Arranger and Best Post-Audio Directing.
As the Helium blimp returns to fly once again, Andy returns to his roots—and is psyched about that, as well as to be making music again with some of his best friends, as well as some of the best musicians he knows.
Kim Oler (bass/vocals) – Kim is a composer for theatre, TV and film, and freelances as a pianist/singer and musical director. He is Director of the St. John’s University Mixed Chorus and numerous theatrical and choral groups on Long Island. His choral works are performed all over the world and have been recorded by the Paul Winter Consort (MISSA GAIA), the Boys Choir of Harlem, the Gostelradio State Chorus and many others. Published by Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, GIA, and Hal Leonard. Musicals: THE SECRET GARDEN, HARRIET THE SPY, CLASS CLOWN, THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE, MAP QUEST, PETS! and LITTLE WOMEN (licensed Theatrical Rights Worldwide.) He is the recipient of the 1998 and 2010 Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jerry Bock Award, and the BMI Jerry Harrington Award for sustained creative achievement. His newest musical, BUDDY’S TAVERN, based on the movie TWO FAMILY HOUSE, will be work-shopped and performed at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT early in the summer of 2010. Winner of two Emmy Awards in composition for ALL MY CHILDREN (thanks AJ.) Kim and Cece, his wife of 25 years, live in Huntington, LI. They have two wonderful children, Elizabeth (24) and Clarke (22). Kim will be gulping helium till his dying breath.
Paul Fargeorge (Drums/vocals) – Bitten by the “music bug” early in life, Paul spent a significant portion of his formative years trying to imitate early rock influences such as the Ventures, Beatles, and a host of 60’s rock groups too numerous (or too embarrassing) to mention. He was also heavily influenced by his father, who as a young man was a professional singer.
Paul spent many years “working” full time as a professional drummer in bands such as the Helium Brothers, Eight To The Bar, Tom Stankus, and Herb Read and the Platters, as well as doing studio session work for radio, television and other artists. By 1985, feeling that his musical career had plateaued, Paul returned to college to pursue a career in the exciting field of software engineering. He currently works as a senior software QA engineer for a company in Marlborough, Massachusetts. “Heck, it might not be as much fun as playing in a band, but one thing I can say… no one has had to carry me home from work in over 20 years.”
Paul now does some acting in community theatre and still dabbles with music on the side, playing mostly guitar and piano in the privacy of his home where it is less likely anyone might be offended or injured. He resides in Newburyport Massachusetts with his wife of 23 years, their 16 year old daughter, 1 dog, two “pet” rats, and assorted fish.
Oscar Hills (banjo/guitar) – After several years of on-the-job training as a member of the Helium Brothers, Oscar realized that the only logical next step was to seek a formal professional education in Psychiatry. This course of action has also helped him to refine his efforts to play the banjo like a maniac, an enterprise that has received almost all of his attention since its inception in 1968, and which continues to brook no distraction. In his free time, Oscar is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, and a faculty member at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. He is in private practice in New Haven. It should be noted that Oscar plays the banjo and guitar with the Helium Brothers regularly – every time the band gets together, which used to round to about once per decade, but in the last couple of years has morphed into a lot of serious and exhilarating playing. He also plays the banjo for the unofficial Yale bluegrass band, the Professors of Bluegrass, great musical friends of the Helium Brothers.
Kenny Kosek (fiddle) – Kenny is one of the most recorded fiddlers in America today, having been the featured soloist on hundreds of albums, soundtracks and jingles. He can be heard on recordings by James Taylor, Jerry Garcia, David Byrne, Chaka Kahn, Willie Nelson and John Denver. He has been a frequent guest player with the Late Night Band on Late Night With David Letterman and on Saturday Night Live.
Kenny’s distinctive roots music inspired compositions have been used in the documentaries The Way West, The Donner Party, Harlan County USA and the Broadway musicals Big River and Foxfire, NBC’s Another World, CBS’s Guiding Light and Fox’s Kirby Kids. His most recent CD, Angelwood, on Rounder records was called : “a lovely piece of work with a strong hint of the spiritual.” (Dave Hinckley, Daily News); “an album that will surprise and delight fans of fiddle music in all its many forms.” (Bluegrass Unlimited) and “Kosek’s signature sound – a swinging, smooth and creamy hot rise that is as hard as it rocks, has exponentially enhanced every project he’s leant it to.” (Village Voice).
Kenny’s work in music instruction has been prolific. He is, with Stacy Phillips, author of the seminal Bluegrass Fiddle Styles, (Oak Publications 1978) and contributor to the collection Fiddle 2000, (Mel Bay Publications 2000). His teaching can be found on Homespun Tapes and Videos: Learning Country Fiddle, Learning Bluegrass Fiddle and Bluegrass Classics. Guest instructor at the Falun Folk Festival, Sweden 1989; Tonder Festival, Denmark 1990 and 1993; the Sore Fingers Workshop, Cotswalds, England 2002; The Big Apple Bluegrass Festival 1999 and the Des McArty festival, Rathcoole, Ireland 2004 and 2005. Staff instructor, Turtle Bay Music School,Manhattan 1997-8. Resident instructor at Jalopy Music School in Brooklyn NY 2014 – present.
He appeared in the movies They All Laughed 1980, The High Lonesome Sound 1996 and The Stepford Wives 2004. On Broadway Kenny’s credits include: The Robber Bridegroom 1977, Platinum 1980, Play Me a Country Song 1982, Foxfire 1983, Big River 1985, Jerry Garcia on Broadway 1987 and Footloose 1998. Off Broadway: Feast Here Tonight 1990, Das Barbecu 1994, That and the Cup of Tea 2001, A Celtic Christmas 2002, Lost Highway 2003, Picon Pie 2005 and Almost Heaven 2005.
Regional Theater : Singing the Moon Up 2005 for Penn State’s Centre Stage. Man of
Constant Sorrow 2006 and Civil War Voices 2010 for Barter Theater’s National Tours.
Other theatrical endeavors include: Return of the Native for BAM’s Next Wave Festival 1988, Symphony Space’s Bartleby on Wall Street (composer) 1991, Dave Van Ronk’s Peter and the Wolf at Alice Tully Hall 1992. The World Dance Theater’s premiere of Little Red (composer).
Kenny wrote and, along with John Goodman and Citizen Kafka, performed in The
Citizen Kafka Show on WBAI FM, New York City 1981-1991. He contributed to the
National Lampoon 1988-89 and is a writer of liner notes for a variety of artists.