In the Beginning...
It all started in 1983 at Catholic University in Washington, DC when Doug Pritchett, Don Laux, and John 'Red' Redling noticed each other walking around campus with guitar cases and long hair, and decided to hang out and maybe try a few songs together. Doug, Don and Red made an instant connection with each other and were blown away at how easily their voices blended together and how good the music sounded. So, in the dorm rooms and stairwells of Catholic U, these three started jamming and singing for their friends, who encouraged them to get a gig at the university pub.
From those early gigs, Wood 'n' Steel was born, an acoustic trio with three part harmonies playing everything from CSNY, to the Beatles, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, John Prine, America--each player brought his background and influences to the group. Parties around campus turned into gigs at the local Kerry to Derry pub, where everyone in the room would end up shaking what they got.
Over the course of 1985-1986, other classmates broadened the sound. Drummer Chris Arminio, guitarist Rich Della Fera, and bassist Dana Smith electrified the sound of the trio, and as Red switched to keyboards and Don to electric guitar, the New Potato Caboose was born...
Still Rockin' It Today!
Today, these jam band legends continue to serve up epic musical groovy goodness, featuring amazing harmonies, killer double drum grooves, and next level jams, delivering a mix of Caboose originals and signature covers. These friends and musicians are masters of improv, integrating the variety of styles and influences that are the ingredients for the band's sound.
New Potato Caboose still fills venues across the mid-Atlantic, and one live concert is all a music lover needs to know how truly good it feels to “Get Loose with the Caboose.”
A NEW ALBUM
With their new album, “It Ain’t a Thing”, New Potato Caboose have nimbly found a way to weave together the band’s long history in the jamband scene with their current drive for songcraft and groove to deliver a breakthrough release that captures their signature sound. The roots of New Potato Caboose stretch back to the early days of the jam scene, trading shows and sharing stages with the likes of Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, and legendary ground-floor acts such as The Band and the Neville Brothers. As the first band ever to play the iconic Wetlands venue in NYC, NPC was featured in the Sundance documentary, Wetlands Preserved. By the early ‘90’s, the group was playing over 200 dates a year and garnering writeups in Pollstar, Billboard, and Variety. They’re currently performing at high-end venues such as Baltimore Soundstage, The National, and The Hamilton, bringing their superb live act to a fervent fan base.
It was at a recent concert where the inspiration for a new album came up. The vibe was so sweet that the band was struck by a mutual “a-ha moment” and set the wheels in motion on a project that would include unrecorded gems, live favorites, and brand new songs. The band was fortunate that John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Ben Folds, Lukas Nelson) was inspired to produce the project, tapping into the music scene roots they all share. John also brought in a talented team from the Red Light Management/DMB family, including engineering wizard Jeff Moxley (Blues Traveler, Plain White T’s, The Chainsmokers) and L.A. mastering ace Whynot Jansveld (The Wallflow- ers, Sara Bareilles, Crash Test Dummies). The band and production team lived and recorded together at Haunted Hollow, Dave Matthews’ private studio in Charlottesville, VA.
The final product is “It Ain’t a Thing”, a snapshot that manages to capture both NPC’s origins and the magic that is happening now. As a crowd-funded, independently-produced album, Caboose fans will share a huge part in its success. On “It Ain’t a Thing”, you can hear the band deftly roll in influences from the laid-back party vibe of Little Feat, the mystic innovation of the Grateful Dead, the shimmering vocals of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the relatable earthiness of The Band. These elements are interpreted and shaped by the extraordinary talents of members Doug Pritchett (acoustic guitar, vocals), Don Laux (rhythm guitar, vocals), John “Red” Redling (keyboards, vocals), Tim Pruitt (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Mahoney (bass), and the powerful double drums sound of John Trupp and John McConnell. Mix in the savvy original songwriting of the band, and the skill of the production team, and the result is a wide-ranging sound that is uniquely New Potato Caboose.
The album pulls tunes from the full spectrum of NPC’s career arc. The classic songs long loved by live audiences include the gritty rocker “Hey Now Julia”; the ethereal heart-grabber “Accidental Ecstasy”; the grunge-infused “Brave New World”, and the punchy roller coaster ride “New Potato Stew”. The middle-era songs written after the band took a break from touring: the playful, bumpin’ “Duke of Awesome”; the lush soundscape of “Shine”; and the fun-loving “Weed”. The brand new songs were conceived especially for this project and represent NPC’s current outlook on life, love and living, featuring the swamp-jam title track “It Ain’t a Thing”; the southern-rock love song “Georgia Angel”; the dusky and defiant “The Whisper”; and the exquisite and complex “What’s the Real”, which champions the concept that life is at its basis, whatever you make of it.
Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Doug Pritchett is a native of Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up with music filling his home on a daily basis. Whether it was played live on the piano by his father or hearing his older brother’s garage band practicing or listening to the console stereo playing Broadway musicals and 60’s folk classics, music was always a part of life.
Doug started his own musical aspirations at the age of 16 in his high school talent show and his passion for singing and playing guitar began to flourish. After graduating from high school he attended the Catholic University of America where he met Don and Red. This is where the jamming really began, playing endless hours in the dorm and ultimately, in the winter of 1983, forming the all acoustic vocal group, Wood’n’Steel. A year later, with other fellow classmates, New Potato Caboose was created and the rest is history.
Soon after the 200 shows a year touring ended in 1995, some of the members of NPC and Doug formed the spin off band, Radio Mosaic, and over the next few years recorded two albums. Doug currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina empty nesting with his wife, Poppy, while his son, Forrest, is off at college. When Doug is not joining this brothers in New Potato Caboose on the road, he plays in several different ensembles in the North and South Carolina areas.
Vocals & Guitar
Born in Southern California, Don Laux grew up in Alexandria, Virginia in a house full of older brothers who would blast Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, and Little Feat on the family stereo whenever they could. After seeing a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool play guitar during breaks, Don knew he had to have one of his own. So he mowed lawns and did odd jobs until he had enough money to go to Veneman's music store and score an acoustic guitar and two Beatles songbooks. In high school, Don joined the choir as a way to broaden his talents and gain entry into one of the school's several rock bands. Serendipitously, he received some pretty solid vocal training as a result. Working as a roadie for his guitar teacher's band provided professional-level experience that he brought along to Catholic University, where he met his future bandmates Doug and Red. These three young musicians discovered how easy it was for them to blend their voices and make harmony magic. Impromptu vocal sessions in the dorm stairwell led to gigs in the university rathskellar, which led to jams with other musicians on and off campus, which led to the founding of New Potato Caboose.
As the band developed into jam scene pioneers, Don found himself sharing lead vocal duties with Doug and helping make the three- and four-part harmonies central to NPC's signature sound. He became an important member of the songwriting team, collaborating on such staples as "Promising Traveler", "The Mansion", "Gold Plated Crime", and others. His rhythm guitar playing adds not only familiar riffs that make the songs memorable, but also more subtle textures that give the songs depth and color. Most importantly, through the years Don has shared in the deep brotherhood among the NPC bandmates that is still going strong to this day.
According to Don, one of the best things about the journey with New Potato Caboose is that it just keeps getting better and better. The band is tighter than ever, the new songs keep flowing, and the camaraderie keeps on growing from its strong roots. With so many good things locked into place, the future sure seems like a bright spot to set sights on and step on the gas!
JOHN 'RED' REDLING
Keyboard & Vocals
Red plunked out his first tune on piano at age 4, and has been playing ever since. He studied music at Manhattan School of Music while in high school, and earned a Bachelor of Music in Composition at CUA, where he met Doug, Don, Rich, and Dana.
Doug and Don turned him on to the music of the Grateful Dead while performing as the acoustic trio, “Wood “N’ Steel,” and Red enjoyed the good writing, the vocals/lyrics, and the improvisational approach. It wasn’t long before they went to Philly for Red’s first Dead show, and the influence took hold. He has always loved artists such as the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Yes, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, John Prine, Simon & Garfunkel, and yes, the Monkees! (To name a few.)
Red has played in many ensembles, including symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles, church choirs, and bands. He was and still is a church organist, and often performs solo on his beloved 12 string guitar. He is regularly asked to perform and record with many artists on the East Coast, and enjoys every gig. He is the Band Director at JEJ Moore Middle School in Prince George, VA. He lives in Hopewell, VA with his wife of 29 years, and they have raised two children, who are now adults and on their own.
John Trupp is a native of Washington, DC and has been extraordinarily active in the east coast music scene. He has been fortunate to perform many thousands of concerts on many of the east coast's finest stages. John was thrilled to joined New Potato Caboose as a drummer and songwriter in the mid 80s and has been a driving force in many of their original compositions. After the New Potato Caboose heyday, John began frequently recording on albums with Grammy winner and legendary producer John Alagia and super producer Doug Derryberry at their highly successful studio and performed on countless albums with various artists.
Currently, John produces and engineers recordings and full albums at his recording studio in Washington DC and provides award winning graphic and web services with his company Metro Graphics. He has won an array of awards for music and graphic design. John also has many songs placed in movies and television, including recent placements on The Young and The Restless on CBS. John was also involved with numerous video productions for MHz and Exuberant TV while working with Grammy winner Scott Shuman. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer, he performs stage shows with many ensembles, including fronting east coast jam band Soul Gravity.
John is a member of the Recording Academy (The Grammys), is a board member emeritus of the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW), and does community service through affiliations with Rotary International. He also does a lot of studio work as a musician and producer, and hosts and promotes local concerts. He hosts DC's longest running Songwriter Showcase and promotes and develops new talent in the region. He has two wonderful children and resides in Maryland with his lovely wife Katherine. And let’s not forget, John is still the unofficial mayor of Derwood.
Mike was inspired when he was 4 or 5 by his older brother who was in a band when they lived in Pakistan, then began playing guitar in the early 70s when he was around 13. Exposure to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Deep Purple and a variety of traditional blues musicians helped to shape his playing style and ability and his appreciation of the bass. Mike played in several bands in high school and afterward and eventually ended up playing bass in a band out of necessity.
The drummer from Mike’s band in themed 80s (Point of Departure) joined the Caboose as a 2nd drummer and Mike’s joining the Caboose followed soon afterward in 1986. Mike saw his abilities and playing style improving greatly as he jammed with the talented and seasoned musicians of the New Potato Caboose.
Mike now lives in South Carolina and still plays in the large band Stillhouse that he co-founded in 2003. Over the years Mike has played live and recorded with a handful of local Columbia musicians and bands. As the Caboose moves in to its next phase of growth, Mike looks forward to playing more and working on new material.
Music has always been a principal force in the life of DC native John McConnell. Having grown up listening to recordings of his grandfather's band Ajax Big Band, John’s own journey as a musician started in 3rd grade playing drums with John Trupp; a collaboration continuing to this day. By their collegiate years, McConnell and Trupp had developed a knack for the fills, depths, and flourishes only double drum jamming can create. Around this time, one of the members of McConnell’s band Point of Departure was living at the infamous St Perry House, the old home and HQ of the first NPC members. McConnell was quickly welcomed into the jams, sharing in the musical and personal chemistry of NPC. By 1985, the NPC was solid with its fresh and rocking rhythm section.
In 1992, McConnell & Trupp started pursuing their own band, The True, resulting in touring & recording projects with producer John Alagia as well as two developmental record deals. When not on the road with The True, McConnell worked as a promotor rep. for Cellar Door, bringing names like The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel & The Grateful Dead to the DC Metro area. Throughout this time, McConnell & Trupp continued to perform with members of NPC, whetting the appetite, and setting the stage for what would become the legendary NPC reunions.
In 1996 McConnell married his wife Elizabeth and moved to Morgantown WV, where he instantly immersed himself in the local music scene, co-founding bands Helicopter Collective and SaborLatino, two bands which continue to play the WV, Pittsburgh, and Western Maryland markets. In the early 2000s, Johns company Blue Dolphin Productions was instrumental in the reopening of the historic Metropolitan Theatre, where John brought in national acts such as the Wailers and Yonder Mountain String Band. John is also an organizer of Morgantown's famous LennonThing, a celebration of all songs Lennon, played in a festival-like atmosphere with all proceeds benefitting local food charities. John has been named one of the most influential people of Morgantown by the Dominion Post for his work in revitalizing the Arts in the City. Elizabeth & John have two college aged sons, one a Senior at West Virginia University, and one a Freshman at in-state rival Marshall University. Now an empty-nester, John looks forward to expanding his role in artist relations with NPC as they create a new record, and he is excited to see what opportunities lie ahead for this great group of friends and musicians.
Guitar and Vocals
Tim’s earliest music memories include watching anything he could find on TV where live instrumentalists were featured including shows like Hee Haw and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. His personal record collection started when his grandmother would hear a good song on the radio and promptly buy the 45 for Tim. From playing trombone in elementary school to his first paying gig as a bass player for an 8-year-old Elvis impersonator, Tim knew that playing in a band was in his future.
He played bass and guitar in various bands in the Baltimore area throughout high school and college before settling on lead guitar for the roots/jam/punk band The Swilltones. His versatility grew with the one-of-a-kind songs of Frankentractor and the roots rock vibe of Richard Taylor and the Ravers. Various bands and gigs followed and through his contact with Mike Mahoney, Tim started playing gigs with New Potato Caboose in 1990. More recently Tim has performed and recorded with Radio Mosaic, Smooth Kentucky, The Stone Hill All-Stars, and Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys.
Most days Tim can be found in his workshop tinkering with a guitar, fixing a pedal for a friend, or tweaking an amplifier. He lives in Sykesville, MD with his wife and two kids who are accustomed to the sound of a cranked up Fender amplifier at dinner time.