Who We Are
Jeff Pike – Founder, Frontman, Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Jeff Pike is an accomplished vocalist, guitarist, pianist, entertainer and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. As a full time working musician for the past 30 years, Jeff is appreciated and respected by his listeners, fans and peers for both his skill of entertaining and his stellar musicianship. For years audiences have been continuously impressed by his improvisational skills and the variety of his musical knowledge. He is passionate, real, and cares about the audience – and the song. Always connecting with his audience through both his talent and his humor.
By 1989, Jeff had developed an enormous following in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia with his one-man tribute to Jimmy Buffett. In 1991, along with percussionist and harmonica player Scott Nickerson, Jeff formed A1A. In 1992 Jeff and A1A won a Margaritaville Records-sponsored Jimmy Buffett Sound Alike Contest. A1A was now officially born and Trop Rock History was made. As the first band ever to showcase a high energy concert composed of nothing except Buffett’s best songs spanning every era of his career, A1A became the only Tribute Band to be personally sanctioned by Jimmy Buffett himself. While countless other bands have followed in A1A’s wake, and even cited them as their main inspiration, A1A remains the first and foremost Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show.
As a Singer/Songwriter, Jeff has recorded 5 CD’ s of his own original music and produced 4 for other local Atlanta recording artists.
During A1A’ s offseason Jeff performs regularly as a solo artist. He also tours and performs as ‘ Benny’ in the American cast of Abba Mania – The Worlds #1 Touring Abba Tribute Show.
For more on Jeff visit him online at JeffPike.com.
Chris Blackwell – Lead Guitar
Chris Blackwell joined A1A in 2014 yet has been playing guitar since the age of five. Chris’s first professional work came when he was sixteen, touring the United States with the group Double Trouble for two years. Chris then joined Arista Recording artist Wheels and toured for a year. >Currently Chris tours with The RockTronix, Abba Mania, and A1A. He also works in a variety of genres both in the studio and on tour as a sideman and writer.
Chris has also worked with Bo Bice (American Idol), Jennifer Holiday (Dream Girls), Geoff Mcbride (The Voice) and Trina Braxton (Braxton Family Values) to name a few.
“If you first don’t succeed, don’t go skydiving” – Chris Blackwell
Aretta Baumgartner – Backup Vocalist
Aretta joined the A1A family in 2017, and is proud and delighted to provide backing vocals for this awesome group of music-makers! When not onstage with A1A, Aretta’s works as a puppeteer, mask performer, movement artist, actress, and arts educator.
She holds a BA in Theatre from Ashland University and an MA in Communication Arts from the University of Cincinnati. Aretta is the Education Director at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA (www.puppet.org) and also sings with AJA: A Tribute to the Music of Steely Dan (www.ajamusic.net).
Remember: try a little love and luck and you’ll get by!
Eric Baumgartner – Musical Director, Piano, Keyboards and Background Vocals
Eric Baumgartner joined A1A in 2013 and brought both his vocal talents and his piano and keyboard skills to the band. He grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and made his way to Atlanta via Boston, Chicago, and Cincinnati. He holds degrees in Jazz Studies from Berklee College of Music and DePaul University. He has dozens of piano works published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, where he also serves as a staff orchestrator, arranger, and clinician. He has presented jazz educational workshops throughout the US, Australia, UK, and Germany and most recently had works published in Japan.
In addition to A1A Eric stays active playing in a variety of bands including the 10-piece Steely Dan tribute band, Aja. He has worked extensively in musical theater and received 2 Suzi Bass Theater Award nominations for his work in 2014. His wife, Aretta, is Educational Director for The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta.
To learn more about Eric check him out at ericbaumgartner.com.
Nico G – Pan Steel Drums and Percussion
Nico Gutierrez is a long time member of A1A. He has been performing since the age of 10, dedicating his life to studying drums, percussion, and the steel drum. Nico’s passion for music started with him following his father’s lead, who performed as a working drummer in New York City.
Nico has shared the stage with Quino of Big Mountain, The Rhythm Jets, and Caribbean Steel. He is performing full-time with A1A. When Nico isn’t on stage with A1A, since 1996 he has brought the magical tropical sounds of the steel drum to audiences across the country in his band, Caribbean Steel. Nico’s high energy performances continue through the last note of each show!
Rick Meeder – Bass Guitar
Rick Meeder started with A1A in 2008 and has brought a lifetime of skill and passion to the band. Rick is not only an extremely talented bass player but has years of experience in radio promotion working at the Legendary 96 Rock. Over the course of his career, Rick has played with many professionals, such as Producer Brendan O’Brien and Bruce Hampton. He also helped form the band 12th Night, opening for acts at the Fox Theater like Billy Thorpe. He has also played with the longtime Atlanta local band, The Running, New Age Jazz artist Elgin Wells, MTV Video Award winner, Nadirah Shakoor, and, in 2011, he was invited to perform on a Christmas tour with Mike Utley and Robert Greenidge of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and Club Trini.
Rick worked as a session bassist for several years at Doppler, 12 Oaks Studio, Tree Studios and with many other independent artists. He has also had the privilege of playing worship at North Point Community Church for over 10 years.
“Helping make A1A the best it can be is my goal..” – Rick Meeder
Vance Kelly – Saxophone and Production
Longtime A1A member Vance Kelly found his passion for music, sound, and saxophone at a young age in his native Atlanta GA. and never let go of the desire to share his love for music. Having honed his craft through years of live and studio performances, his audiences are the beneficiaries of his constant push to take his skills as a player, engineer, and producer to the highest level. He has broad experience in Pop, Rock, Blues, Big Band Jazz, Island and Christian genres that blend into what you hear from him today.
Along with his study of Music at Kennesaw State University, Vance earned a degree in Electrical Engineering which furthers his capabilities as a musician, engineer, and producer. Vance started his music career playing in college bands and sitting in for studio sessions. The first 7 years on the road were spent playing keyboards and sax with the now famous Jesse James Dupree. In the following years, Vance recorded and played with blues bands and a Contemporary Christian band. Vance was also fortunate enough to be a charter member and have a key role in The Christian Music Connection that provided a path for unsigned artists to grow while promoting shows for many named acts. To round out his career in the business, Vance worked as a talent agent for Rising Star Productions and has spent years as a FOH sound engineer, most recently for North Point Ministries. The variety of artists and music professionals that Vance has had the pleasure of working with has had an amazing influence on his music today. Vance’ s performances are enhanced by the insight he has gained in his role as engineer and producer at Palms Up Studios. He produced a track for Capital Records which appeared in the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. Vance’ s proficiency in producing the highest quality sound cultivates amazing live and recorded musical experiences. Vance understands music, the technology that drives it and business that surrounds it. Vance is also the visionary and the front man for The Rhythm Jets.
For more information on Vance visit rhythmjets.com.
Wayne Viar – Drums and Percussion
Wayne joined A1A in 2009 as a drummer and percussionist. He resides in the Atlanta area yet works both in town and on the road performing with national and international acts. He can be heard on numerous independent and major label album releases and singles, including the Lions Gate film, ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’. He also provides music programming for producers, bands, schools, artists and corporate clients.
Wayne teaches part-time at George Walton Academy, a private school in Monroe, GA, and is an advocate for music education.
“My goal as an educator is to mix a fundamental curriculum with real-world experience. I want to provide students with the necessary skills to be successful as players – adept musicians – and not just follow trending academic philosophies and practices. (How about that for a loaded statement?!)” – Wayne Viar
Find out more about Wayne at wayneviar.com.
Tom Morfoot – Pirate
Tom Morfoot is a former theater major and professional stage actor. His love of theater began at an early age and he has performed in different types of theater over the years from high school and college productions to community theater, dinner, outdoor, children’s and musical theater in various parts of the country.
It was during a college production of Moliere’s Tartuffe where he met Jeff Pike and formed a friendship that has lasted over 30 years. A bit of a history buff, as well as a cosplayer, Tom did Civil War reenacting for over 25 years, some Revolutionary War, and for the last 10 years, pirate reenacting. Though no longer acting professionally, Tom still performs in some fashion either with his Civil War and Baroque dance troupes or on occasion with A1A as a pirate, Israel Hands. As Israel, he has been seen at various Renaissance festivals from Georgia to Michigan and has frequented many a pirate festival from Tybee, GA to Cedar Key, FL.
Joseph ‘FOE’ Davis – Pirate
Joseph Davis, or Foe as most people know him, has been active in the pirate community since 2006 and has been entertaining crowds with A1A since 2007. He is an avid costumer who makes most of his own garb, enjoying an emphasis on classic and historical costume design.
Foe enjoys reading about nautical history and performs traditional sea shanties with his shipmate Tommy Morfoot (Israel Hands) as Pogue Mahone. He regularly attends pirate festivals throughout the Southeast and has been a guest at Tybee Island Pirate Festival, Cedar Key Pirate Festival, and Southern Pirate Festival. He has been a member of several planning committees for pirating events and has entertained as a pirate at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Faire, and the Michigan Renaissance Festival.
William “Foe” Foley started his nautical career as an Irish deckhand aboard the Luck of the South Wind until his 29th year when he fled to the Eastern United States to avoid the gallows. He served under several Captains and joined several Crews before crossing paths with Israel Hands, a gunner from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, saving him from the hangman’s noose (however Hands would never admit it). Finding themselves on an unscheduled and extended leave, the two spent their time gallivanting from port to port performing as Pogue Mahone to all who’d listen and buy them a pint.
Chad Stewart – Audio and Production Director
Chad is the touring FOH engineer for the Peter Mayer Group www.petermayer.com, A1A, Abba Mania, and also the owner of Stewart Sound. www.stewartsound.net. Providing mobile staging, lighting and concert audio for numerous festivals, events and artist ensures that his craft stays refined. Playing guitar and singing still represent a major part of his craft and mixing live audio is a very natural extension of that.
Kathy Mullen – Management and Direction
Mullen Music Management
Kathy handles the business operations side of A1A along with the coordination of various projects keeping A1A running smoothly and on track. Client relationships and show coordination are a big piece of her role. Managing finances goes into the strategic planning of the band while keeping growth in the forefront to create the future. Working with booking gigs through promoters and clients contacting A1A is a piece of management too. Oh yeah, doing the best to keep the band happy ranks high on the list!
Kathy has more than 30 years in a corporate environment lending her skills to make this an enjoyable experience. How did she land this role? Kathy’s love and passion for A1A, along with a desire to step into a creative role brought her to A1A. Her skills that come in handiest and utilized the most are flexibility and problem-solving. She works well as the ‘glue’ behind the scenes!
Come out and join us for a great evening of Trop Rock music, dancing and fun!