We had the good fortune of working with some of our favorite artists and musicians on this project.  Here are some bios of those folks.  Check the “links” tab for links to many of their websites.  The number in parentheses indicates which Presidential tune the musician (or artist) was a part of.


Greg Aaron (2, 5, 8, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 32, 35, 38, 41) is currently the drummer for Sacramento’s Nice Monster.  His previous projects include a gripping zombie portrayal for NightGod Entertainment and funking out with Garlic & Cookie Hair, Osiris, and Hypnotic Alien.

Joe Adamik (7, 40) has been a Chicago-based drummer for over 20 years.  He has performed with local jazz greats such as Franz Jackson, Ira Sullivan, Ron Dewar, Bobby Lewis, Tom Muellner, and is an active member of Califone.

Tetuzi Akiyama (22) is a Tokyo-based experimental guitarist combining elements of the avant-garde, noise, blues, and finger-picking.  His most recent releases include a duo with Jozef van Wissem and a soundtrack project with Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O’Rourke, and Sachiko M.

Jeff Alkire (13, 31, 35, 39, 42) has toured the world performing as a saxophonist with the likes of Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Terry Gibbs, Joe Farrell, Charlie Haden, Art Lande, Chuck Israels, Eddie Marshall, Bobby Shew, John Patitucci and John Stowell. His two independent CDs Tak’in Notes and Another Day are available on

Jim Becker (7, 40) has been playing improvised music, soundtracks, and songs for 15 years, both as a solo act, as a member of various ensembles (including Boxhead Ensemble), and as a regular member of Califone.  Among many other projects, he has recently toured with the Dirty Three (playing violin, mandolin, and bass) and has recorded with Iron and Wine.

Monahans bassist Britton Beisenherz (11) owns and operates Ramble Creek Studio in the hills of beautiful Southwest Austin, where he works as a recording engineer and producer.

Keenan Bird (1) plays rudimental drumming for California’s official fife and drum corps, the California Consolidated Drum Band, and field music for both 18th and 19th century historical reenactments throughout the country.

Tom Brosseau (8) was born and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota and now lives in Los Angeles—a writer who performs spare, beautiful, mesmerizing songs.  On Brosseau’s latest record, Cavalier (FatCat Records), producer John Parish gives full play to the otherworldly pull of Brosseau’s voice and the straightforward grace of his language.

If Albert Ayler had been a singer-songwriter who was interested in folk music and gutbucket blues it would likely sound something Califone (7,40).  Christian says that seeing this band live will change your life.  He’s not kidding.

The world likely doesn’t know Bill Callahan (10) as well as it knows Smog, the name he has used on various musical releases since 1990 (most on Drag City), although his most recent album might change that.  The principal songwriters of this project believe that he has the greatest voice in the world.

Tom Carter (37) is best known for his work with Charalambides, which he co-founded with longtime creative partner Christina Carter in 1991. Since 2002, Carter has also undertaken numerous solo projects and collaborations, including working with Bardo Pond, Thurston Moore, Dredd Foole, MV and EE, and Christian Kiefer.

Garin Casaleggio (29) has been known to play drums for great Sacramento songwriters, like Christian Kiefer and David Houston.  He is currently a member of The Stragglers, Claire Voyant, and can be seen wearing a wig in The Jacks.  And he really likes Matty’s songs.

Chip Conrad (28, 38), the live show drummer for this project, has been playing with Christian Kiefer on and off for almost 2 decades. On top of growing up studying with Harold Chang, Arthur Lyman’s drummer, he can now recite presidential trivia like a history major on drugs.

Jackpot drummer Mike Curry (1, 13, 19, 25, 31, 34, 37) is an all around swell guy to be around.  He lives in Sacramento and has a nice room to rehearse in.

Steve Dawson (36) is from Hailey, Idaho. He currently lives in Chicago where he splits his time singing and writing songs for the band Dolly Varden and making occasional solo albums. Despite the long and bitter winters he still loves the city of Chicago.

CAKE’s trumpeter Vince DiFiori (1, 38) was delighted to be invited on board to this insanely ambitious project. In childhood, Vince and his siblings collected plastic statuettes of all the presidents, a collector’s series offered through the check-out lane at VON’s Supermarket.

Andrew Dost (1, 5, 17, 42) is a Michigan-based musician who enjoys writing musicals,
potty humor, and crossword puzzles.  His most recent endeavor is a musical based on the journeys of Christopher Columbus.  His favorite president is Abraham Lincoln.

Simon Ennis (12, 14, 25) is an assistant professor of biological psychology at California State University, Chico. He has been the songwriter for St. Simon 3 and bassist for The Kimberly Trip. He currently play keyboards and accordion for Christian Kiefer in additional to performing his own songs at occasional solo shows.

Jesse Elliott (2) was born and raised Midwest-ward and is a big, stupid (but effective) quitter, which is how he ended up in music—by quitting everything else, effectively.  Now leads “the other” These United States ( from DC worldly HQ.

Andrew Enberg (3, 6, 11, 18, 21, 24, 27, 33, 36, 39, 42) teaches drums and performs with various music groups in Northern California where he lives with his wife, Gina, and two cats.

James Finch, Jr. (4, 31) is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Northern California and plays regularly with Two Sheds and Jackpot. He is no longer young and currently lives in San Francisco.  Il a la colere mechant et il est un sadique.  Evitez il.

Monahans guitarist/noise-maker Jim Fredley (11) lives in Austin, where he also fronts The Hackberries and enjoys cultivating his vegetable garden.

Born and raised in Iowa, J. Matthew Gerken (2, 5, 6, 8, 12-14, 17-20, 23, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 35, 38, 41-43) first delved into music via the trombone and then, without an amp, learned electric bass by holding his head against the neck to hear and copying Paul McCartney bass lines. He has now led or contributed to more than ten different musical ensembles, most recently as the primary composer and lyricist for the Sacramento-based math folk group Nice Monster.  He wrote 1/3 of the songs on this album.

Chris Grabau (25) is the leader of the St. Louis based, Magnolia Summer.  The band has released two critically acclaimed records on Undertow and is preparing to release a new record in mid-2008.

Formerly of Above the Orange Trees with Jefferson Pitcher, California native Ron Guensche (33, 36) plays bass and is a recording engineer with New Future Vintage Studios in Alameda, California.  He thinks this sounds lifted from a cheap novel’s dust cover.

John Gutenberger (1, 19, 25, 37) is currently bassist for both Two Sheds  and Jackpot and was a founding member of legendary proto-emo band Far.  He lives in Sacramento and would like you to know that he is a straight, married Aquarius.

Dean Haakenson (26) is the principal songwriter / frontman / guitarist / vocalist for Sacramento-based Be Brave Bold Robot.  He has recently turned 30 years old and is even more unsure of himself than when his rhyme schemes were trite and sophomoric.

Portland, Oregon’s Dustin Hamman (2) performs songs that are sometimes beautiful and occasionally ridiculous and often appear under the name Run On Sentence (

Marla Hansen (5, 11, 27, 31) plays viola and sings.  Sometimes she does these things by herself, and sometimes with other people.  Those other people include Sufjan Stevens, Jens Lekman, The National, My Brightest Diamond, Jay-Z, Kanye West and many others.

Magnolia Summer’s John Horton (25) is also a member of St. Louis’ The Bottle Rockets.  In addition his tenure in these bands, John has contributed tracks for Jay Farrar, Son Volt, and was a part of the touring band for Bennett & Burch with Centro-matic’s Will Johnson and Scott Danbom.

Sacramento geologist Jeremy Hughes (5, 38) likes to pretend he’s a drummer every now and then, most recently on Nice Monster’s Good Times + Sharp Knives.

Jeff Kapellas (18, 31, 42) lives in Sacramento with his wife, two cats, too many instruments and several boxes of unsold Trenchermen CDs.

Steve Kattenbraker (29, 32) is a sound and word collector who delights in the manipulation, subjugation and general twittering of said items. Steven crafts instrumental music for film, performs cardioversions, and solo with his chimerical orchestra.

Northern California-based Christian Kiefer (1-4, 6-10, 12-14, 16-20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29-35, 37-38, 40-43) holds a Ph.D. from U.C. Davis in American literature and is deeply involved in the exploring the intersections of art, culture, and history.  His music has appeared on many labels over the years, including Extreme, Tompkins Square, Preservation, Undertow, and Camera Obscura.  He is father to five children, rarely sleeps, and wrote 1/3 of the songs on this album.

Mark Kozelek (34) wrote and sang the songs in Red House Painters and lately, Sun Kil Moon. He has also released  a number of solo recordings and recently produced Retribution Gospel Choir which was released on his own Caldo Verde Records.

Scott Leftridge (7, 9, 11, 34, 39, 42) is a former member of Christian Kiefer’s live band and appears on his albums for Extreme.  He is a current member of William Dent.

Reid Maclean (15) spent the better part of the ‘90s touring with his band Spinoza in a gold carpeted van.  Since then he’s devoted himself to twin solo careers in carpentry and music.  His latest CD is Bright Fading Star.

Multi-instrumentalist Michael Madden (18, 25) did the very first Christian Kiefer recordings in the late 1990s.  He has recorded and played with scores of songwriters over four decades and has recorded hundreds of his own songs and compositions.  Christian would like you to know that he considers Michael to be the most important singular artistic influence in his life.

St. Louis’ Magnolia Summer (25) makes music of thrilling contrasts ranging from full tilt rockers to sparse acoustic ballads.  Led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chris Grabau, Magnolia Summer features a collection of musicians who also do double time in other bands such as The Bottle Rockets, Waterloo, Grace Basement, and The Linemen (

Ben Massarella (7, 22, 40) has recorded extensively with Red Red Meat, Califone, oRSo and among others. He appears on the Chris Connelly album The Episodes and is currently whipping up a batch live with Iron and Wine.

Joaquin McPeek (38) is a percussionist and drummer who’s been known to sing on occasion, too.  He believes no one rocked a cigarette holder like FDR.

Jazz/rock drummer Tim Metz (12) is a staple of the Northern California music scene.  He has performed with members of the world-renowned Capitol Jazz Project, saxophone pioneer Steve Gundhi, pianist Clark Goodloe, and pianist Bob Ringwald.  His debut release as band leader is on the near horizon.

For most of her life, Fran Mironchik (1) has played flute in a variety of musical styles and ethnicities.  She now also is guitarist and singer in an acoustic blues band, Hard Clumpin’ Litter, playing early blues tunes from the ‘20s and ‘30s.

Born mostly out of nameless instrumental soundtracks and later weaved with lyrical strands of detachment and Cold War Era urgency in the spirit of early U2, R.E.M., The Police and everyone’s hero, Neil Young, Austin-and-San Francisco-based band Monahans (11) emerged in 2007 with the release of Low Pining.  Magnet Magazine listed the album as one of its “Ten Hidden Treasures of 2007” and described it as “Friends of Dean Martinez resting under the lush sonic boughs of The Joshua Tree.”

Jeremy Pagan (29) lives in Sacramento and plays occasional guitar occasionally in occasional projects.  He wishes he did more but his ambition has flagged considerably.

Heather Phillips (2, 8, 17, 20, 23, 29) plays keyboard and sings harmony vocals in Nice Monster and also provides backing vocals for Be Brave Bold Robot.  She earned her Masters degree in Atmospheric Science and Environmental Sustainability from the University of Michigan and spends her day ensuring quality of life and resources for future generations.

Jefferson Pitcher (2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 18, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 42, 43) is a guitarist, songwriter, and documentary filmmaker. He holds an MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was a member of improvisational ensemble Tintinambulate. His work has included co-directing and writing the feature-length documentary The Winter of the Beard and writing and recording music for a number of labels including Camera Obscura and his own Mudita Records. A few years ago he pedaled his bicycle from San Francisco to Maine with filmmaker Mike Schwartz, which they plan to do again in 2024. He wrote 1/3 of the songs on this album.

Tilden Smith Pitcher was born to Jefferson Pitcher and Keri Smith during the final mixing of this project and enjoys breast milk, screaming, and sleeping.  We thought you’d like to know that.

Jim Putnam (30) is the principal guiding light of The Radar Bros. and lives in Southern California.

The Radar Bros. (30) have been playing soft rock for almost fifteen years now.  After five full-length albums and several EPs, they’re still going strong.  Born on a sailboat in a small Southern California marina, their sound has been compared to the likes of Neil Young and Pink Floyd, with a few modern touches thrown in.

Jason Roberts (1, 2, 5, 8, 23, 35, 41) lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and plays guitar for Christian Kiefer and Nice Monster. He’s been known to write a few songs of his own. He doesn’t know how he got tangled up in this.

Experimental musician and songwriter Tim Rutili (7, 40) is the singer, songwriter and guitarist for Chicago-based band Califone. He has been a member of Red Red Meat, Boxhead Ensemble, and Ugly Casanova, and has been active in creating music for feature
films and  documentaries.

Dan Paul Ryan (2) was born in Wellington, New Zealand and grew up in Washington DC.  He now plays bass for DC’s Le Loup.

Rosie Thomas (39) is an American singer-songwriter currently residing in Seattle, Washington.  She’s recorded three critically acclaimed albums for famed record label Sub Pop, and most recently started her own imprint label, Sing-a-long Records with Nettwerk Music Group, releasing These Friends of Mine in 2007, which featured Sufjan Stevens and Denison Witmer.

Stuart Thomas (3, 11, 18, 21, 24, 27, 39, 42) is a Los Angeles-based musician and composer.  Lately he has been exploring the marriage of orchestral, electronic and ambient music in his work with Oscar-nominated composer James Newton Howard. Most recently he performed on and co-produced the score to Michael Clayton.

James Jackson Toth (16) is perhaps better known in some circles as Wooden Wand, though he recently finished his debut album (under his own name) for Rykodisc.

James’ wife Jexie Lynn Toth (16), was an original member of Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice and currently fronts her own metal band, Jex Thoth, which recently released an album on the I Hate label. The Toths live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Roberto Sanchez (11) plays drums in Monahans.  He lives with his wife and son near the ocean in San Francisco, California where they can be the last ones who watch the sun go down.

Damian Sol (1, 10, 18, 25, 43) has played the violin since he was but a wee lad. He writes and records rock, pop, jazz, tango and electronic songs in his living room.

Duluth, Minnesota native Alan Sparhawk (34) is the guitarist and vocalist for Low.  His side projects include the blues-roots band The Black Eyed Snakes and Retribution Gospel Choir.

Jamie Stewart (28) is singer, guitarist, and programmer of Xiu Xiu and is also a member of 7 Year Rabbit Cycle. He currently lives in Oakland, California.

Singer/songwriter Greg Vanderpool (11) cut his teeth performing in Dallas’ once thriving Deep Ellum music scene before fronting the bands Milton Mapes (named for his grandfather) and Monahans.  He, his wife and son reside in Austin with their dog, Zuma.

14-year old multi-instrumentalist and future presidential hopeful, Alexander Wilson (29), makes his debut on this album.  By reading the next bio you can learn about his father.

Chad Wilson (2, 5, 8, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35, 38, 41) was bassist for Davis-based PopeAlopes and Beatrice Nine for most of the 1990s. He currently plays bass for Nice Monster.

Denison Witmer (33) lives in Philadelphia, PA.  He has released six LPs in the last eight years, and is currently working on his seventh.

In Country Music: The Rough Guide, Kurt Wolff called Stephen Yerkey (14) “one of the greatest little-known songwriters and singers west of the Mississippi,” a note backed up by two critically acclaimed albums: Confidence, Man and Metaneonatureboy.  In the thirteen years between these albums, Yerkey has been a paperboy, dishwasher, mail clerk, bagel maker, security guard, janitor, and personal assistant for autistic adults.


{bios coming soon}

Published on May 2, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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