As acoustic musicians go these days, Brian Oberlin (mandolin) and Luke Gitchel (guitar) have a chemistry like no other. They have been playing together for 15 years, yet each concert is full of new ideas as they spring and lope through songs, bouncing off each others nuances with a lively thrill. Their vocal harmonies are likened to brothers as they honed their skills together as teenagers playing in several different Michigan bands. They both grew up in music playing bluegrass on their respective instruments and they write their own songs in the bluegrass and swing genres. The Journeymen typically travel with a bass player and another local hot picker on banjo or fiddle when it is appropriate.
Luke Gitchel, originally from Howard City, MI, began playing guitar at the age of 5. Since then he has excelled on any stringed instrument he picks up because bluegrass is in his blood. At the age of 18, he won the WMBMA guitar and mandolin picking contest in Michigan. His powerful and spot-on rhythm/solo guitar playing adds to his choice lead singing. He played with the infamous Wendy Smith for several years and he now plays with Mountain Ruckus in Pigeon Forge, TN. (Bluegrass band at Dollywood)
Brian Oberlin, originally from Rockford, MI., spends much of his time teaching mandolin and his own mandolin camp in Portland, OR. (River of the West Mandolin Camp) He also performs as a solo act around the pacific northwest playing anything from Vivaldi's mandolin concertos with an orchestra, to performing western swing music at festivals and concerts. He also has started the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra which has 25 members all in the mandolin family playing American and European music. His swing chops on mandolin and crooning voice add a perfect fit to the sound of the Journeymen. Brian was a finalist at the 2003 Winfield mandolin championship and a member of the award winning band, Grasshoppah. www.mandoberlin.com www.oregonmandolinorchestra.org