Steve, back in the day.

With heavy hearts, we share the news that our banjo player and dear friend, Steve Huestis, passed away on August 2, 2015, after a long illness. Steve was a founding member of the Virginia Creepers in 1991 and played with us until late June. We will sure miss his music, his wisdom, and his sharp wit.

 
    Wherever you are, don't let 'em play Manitou.  
         
 

The Virginia Creepers have been playing old-time music in New Mexico for more than 20 years.  Past winners of the Old Time Band Contest at the Santa Fe Traditional and Bluegrass Music Festival, they play tunes and songs that range from the Civil War era and earlier to newer pieces in the old-time style.

The current line-up features founding member Rick Olcott on guitar, Scott Mathis, who came aboard not long after, on mandolin and guitarron, Laurie Phillips, who joined the Creepers in 1999, on mandolin and mandola, Jane Phillips on fiddle (a 2010 recruit), and our 2014 addition, Marc Robert, on bass.  The band members have a combined total of well over 150 years of musical experience.  Based in Albuquerque, they play around NM and beyond for dances, parties, and festivals, and as soothing background music for the quiet and studious patrons of saloons and taverns.

 
         

 
Scott Mathis: guitarron, mando
Scott started playing music in much the same way as most kids…band and orchestra in Junior High and High School (or Military School in his case). Sometime in 1966, he was invited to join a neighborhood rock band called “The Hereafter.” Later, after a road trip to Monterrey Pop, he helped form the infamous “Movin’ Henry Band” an innovative and edgy psychedelic band which lasted thru the 60’s. Settling down to raise a family, he didn’t return to play music until 1978, when a friend lent him a cheap mandolin. Bluegrass first, then Irish and finally Old-Time and Traditional music became his passions. Mandolin and the mandolin family of instruments are his instruments of choice.
He has played and recorded with some notable bands: Mr. Spray and the Tune Junkies, Goathaids, Bayou Seco, Virginia Creepers, Lost Woody, Soda Rock Ramblers and the Sandia Hots. His latest interest is playing the Guitarron with as many groups as will have him. Scott’s one word quote is “Buffet,” basically meaning “what a spread!”
 
         
 
Rick Olcott: guitar
Rick Olcott, a founding member of the Creepers, has been playing guitar since the waning days of the Folk Scare of the 60's. His earliest musical memories are of his mother singing "I Ride an Old Paint" and "St. James Infirmary" while she drove him to kindergarten. His mom was a fan of Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday and Josh White and these influences perhaps account for Rick's somewhat histrionic approach to the blues. His dad favored the Big Band sound. Gene Krupa's influence can still be heard in Rick's frequent breaking of strings. Both of Rick's parents were fans of the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four and several other folk groups of the early and mid-60's. As soon as Rick and his brother could strum chords on their guitars, they were encouraged to play and sing loud and strong, even if they didn't know the tune too well. This tradition continues. Rick and his brother Bo (who has played guitar with the Fast Peso Stringband in Santa Fe, NM for the last twenty years) made several futile attempts to start a rock and roll band in their teen years, but they just couldn't get the right sound out of those nylon strings. In 1990, Rick stumbled into an old-time jam sponsored by the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society where he met Steve and Scott.
 
         
 
Laurie Phillips: mandolin, mandola
Laurence R. ("Laurie") Phillips has been the Creepers' mando player since the turn of the century. He began his musical career at age fourteen strumming the chords from a Beatles songbook on an old archtop with f-holes. In 1973 he acquired his first Skillet Lickers record, setting the stage for his later career in sensitive lyrics and serious delivery. After dabbling in bluegrass and acoustic folk music for many years, he became a true seeker of the subtle joys of Old-time music in the late Eighties. Laurie got into the action in Albuquerque playing guitar in the Megaband, an open-mic band that seats all comers in order to introduce new folks to the local old-time scene. After a suitable interval playing old-time guitar, he graduated to harder stuff: the mandolin. Though hardly more than a toy (according to the banjo player), in Mr. Phillips's hands the mando holds its own in the Creeper musical landscape providing the highly desirable "plinky-plinky" effect. Laurie's musical philosophy can be summed up as follows: "Play every tune one time too many and remember there's a seeker born every minute."
 
       
 
Jane Phillips: fiddle

Jane has been an emergency bass player for the Creepers in past years, and has been fiddling with the boys since aught-ten, ignoring the 'no girls' sign on the Creeper Clubhouse. She likes crooked tunes, straight whiskey, and short walks on the beach.

 
         
 

Marc Robert: bass, banjo

Marc can't decide what to do. He learned how to play the banjo from Wayne Shrubsall back in the 90's and had a fun run with the legendary Deming Fusiliers. He's playing guitar and bass with the Red Light Ramblers, and he somehow tricked the Creepers into letting him play bass for the band. He practices law to support his music habits; he suspects that he was recruited in order to have a lawyer on the team, just in case.