Dale Mussell

Tony Gonzalez

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The Band

Steve Moser grew up in a large family where the sound of his mom singing and playing classical and popular music on an old upright piano would occasionally blend with his dad playing acoustic guitar or harmonica.  “I was fascinated and uplifted by these musical sounds and happy moods from an early age. Mom offered basic music theory and piano and accordion lessons to those of us who were interested – me for one!

Steve’s father had a Kalamazoo archtop acoustic guitar that “I promptly fell in love with after my first C chord”.  As Steve progressed on the guitar he would often play with family and friends in various informal settings such as family gatherings and the occasional talent show.

I was a late bloomer in the music performance biz”.  Steve’s initiation came about through a guitar & keyboard vocal duo with his sister Carol.  Not long after meeting Tom Maves at a local audition/jam session, the guitar/vocal duo, Maves and Moser, was formed. They would perform regularly in the Wisconsin Fox Valley area blend from 1982 through 1986, and then again in the 1990’s.  Also during the period of 1980 through 1995, Steve performed as an accompanist in more than 100 wedding services with a wide variety of vocalists, keyboardists and other instrumentalists.  Steve has also been teaching guitar lessons for over 30 years.  He currently teaches at Mikes Music in Fond du Lac.

In 1990, Steve met Dale Mussell while playing in the popular Fond du lac area variety, dance and wedding band, Shades of Dawn.”Dale and I shared a dream of playing acoustic based music, with great lyrics, moving melodies and vocal harmonies – music we felt passionate about.”  It was inevitable that RINGS was soon assembled along with Steve’s duo partner, Tom Maves. “Adding Tony Gonzalez in 1994 after my brief absence was a natural progression musically and gave RINGS an even broader palette of guitar and vocal styles and genres to work with.”

Like many acoustic guitarists, Steve was influenced by the singer-songwriters of the late 60’s and 70’s.  He continues to draw inspiration from artists such as; Paul Simon, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Neil Young, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Steve primarily plays acoustic and classical 6-string guitars.  He also enjoys playing some bass guitar and a variety of percussion instruments.  Steve’s original songwriting contributions are Through All My Years, The Dream Lives On and A Summer Love which can be found on the self titled RINGS CD and the RINGS recording titled REQUESTS.

I love helping to create unusual harmonies and finding meaningful (and occasionally not-so-meaningful) songs to sing.”

Tom Maves has a natural talent born of lineage and heritage.  His maternal grandfather was a drummer and his father played drums, piano, had a beautiful singing voice and whistled with the inflections of a concert musician.  “Whether working on a project or relaxing, we always had music in the house.”

Tom grew up in the company of musical friends who loved singing harmonies together.  In high school Tom and his friends formed the band Harmony Rock.  He was part of the very popular and successful Waupaca High School Choir under the direction of creative director, Jerry Knoepfel.  Under Knoepfel’s direction, Tom and the choir traveled and worked with Broadway musical talents that the director knew.  “Jerry was Pricilla Presley’s music instructor and we worked directly with people like Cloris Leachman and had Broadway Dance and Costume Designers for our musical performances.”  While performing in such musicals as Fiddler on the Roof, Brigadoon and Damn Yankees, the sister of a friend heard Tom singing a solo and decided she wanted him to sing in her wedding.  This launched a musical avocation that carried on beyond high school and to this day Tom has performed hundreds of weddings with female singers, piano players and other musicians.

While at UW-Oshkosh, Tom met and sang with many different guitar players and bands, performed at more weddings and parties and eventually met Steve Moser.  In 1982 Tom and Steve formed the area duo of Maves & Moser.  For the next five years they performed at many local weddings, coffee houses, bars and community venues.  During that time, Tom tried his hand at Blues, Rock and hard Rock with the Oshkosh based band:  Flashpoint.  “We were loud but had excellent musicians.”

In 1990 Tom met Tony Gonzalez through a mutual professor.  They became co-workers and Tony temporarily moved in with Tom and his wife.  It was during this brief time that Tom first heard Tony’s guitar and vocals.  Shortly after, Tom and Tony played together in an Appleton based band with John Frings“We played Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Cray and John Hyatt. We were good, but loud!”

Steve introduced Tom to Dale Mussell in 1991. Dale added bass, harmonica and keyboards to the already established Maves & Moser and in the spring of 1992, RINGS was launched.  To this point, Tom’s contribution to Maves and Moser and the subsequent RINGS had been bongos, tambourine and, of course, his awesome vocals.  Soon, he started slowly adding percussion sounds and toys, “with encouragement from Dale”, and worked in drums to their increasing repertoire.  In 1994 Tom brought Tony into RINGS and the quartet was formed.

Tom’s original songs include Loving Every Minute, Losin’ the Blues and the very popular:  Walk and can be found on the first two RINGS CD’s.

Doing music that you love with the friends and family that you love while performing for more family and friends that you love (while eating the foods that we love) and getting paid, is not a bad job.  I’m very fortunate.”

Dale Mussell was born into a musical family in which both his parents enjoyed singing and his father had performed on guitar.  “I think my dad got me a guitar at an early age so that I would leave his Gibson alone.”   Dale began his musical journey in Hartland, WI with piano lessons in fourth grade.  “I hated practicing scales so when fifth grade band provided an opportunity I jumped to trumpet.”  Still searching for his instrument, Dale switched to alto saxophone in seventh grade.  “My experience with wind instruments helps me in phrasing the synthesizer when using horn settings.”

Upon entering high school Dale switched to upright bass.  “I wanted to get into the orchestra because they didn’t march, so I was given a bass, a book and a room and I taught myself to play.”  Bass presented Dale with an opportunity to play in the Orchestra, Concert Band and Jazz Band.  “I played upright for a year before getting my first bass guitar.  It was 1969, the year of Woodstock, and once the word got out that I had an electric bass, things really started to happen.”  That was the year that launched a lifetime love affair with the music business.  In his HS senior year, Dale was in seven bands performing everything from Classical to Classic Rock and Hard Rock to Soft Jazz.  “My mom wondered why I didn’t date.  I just didn’t have time.”  Upon graduation, Dale was presented with the National School Orchestra Award.

Dale has played bass in musicals for local high schools and in community theatre.  He was also a harmonica soloist in the 1977 Gong Show at Alpine Valley.  “I didn’t win, but I wasn’t gonged and went on to win a Gong Show at the Milwaukee PAC”.   Dale’s professional experience encompasses many styles of music in as many varied bands, most notably:  on the road in the 70’s with the Joliet based road band; Moonstar; in the 80’s, together with the late great Bill Shaw in the Colorado Springs based duo; Two Bits; and in his own Waukesha area wedding band; Black Tie & Sneakers.  While leading BT&S he began to sit in with Fond du lac, WI area band, Shades of Dawn where he met guitarist, Steve MoserSteve invited Dale to hear the duo that he shared with vocalist, Tom Maves.

After a Country Kitchen sit-down the three musicians decided to test the waters of public opinion by having Dale sit in on bass and vocals with Maves & Moser at established area venues.  And, Hey Mikey! they liked it.  In the spring of 1992 RINGS was officially launched.  Tom, Steve and Dale found a home in the Wisconsin Fox Valley area restaurants and nightclubs.  With the addition of Tony Gonzalez two years later the synergy was complete.

Dale counts among his influences; Ron Carter and Jack Bruce on bass, John Mayall on harmonica and “the many excellent musicians with which I’ve had the good fortune to perform”.   With RINGS, Dale is currently playing Acoustic and Electric Bass Guitars, Keys, Harmonicas, Ukulele and a plethora of percussion.  He has used Banjo and his own homebuilt “Guitanjo” on RINGS’ second recording, REQUESTS, and has contributed original songs; Midnight Mare, Woodlands and Never Too Young to both of the bands first two CD’s.

Music is my lifeline. There is nowhere I feel more confident or alive than when performing with my friends.

Tony Gonzalez had wanted to play the guitar as far back as he can remember.  “I remember playing a tennis racket on my front porch with my brother and a friend or two.  We played to some of our favorite songs and charged admission.”  Tony’s parents bought him his first guitar for his eleventh birthday.  That guitar, a red tear drop shaped VOX semi-hollow body electric, now hangs on the wall next to his first acoustic guitar which he bought at the age of fourteen for $75.

Tony’s family played a major role in his early development as a performer.  “My Aunt Carol encouraged me to sing when I was in high school.  She told me, you have a gift from God and said that I should share it.”  In high school Tony sang with his guitar at occasional beach parties, but it wasn’t until 1990, when Tom Maves introduced him to a friend, John Frings, that Tony had an opportunity to sing and play with Tom in a blues/rock band.  “We had a lot of fun and it was a great experience for the several months that we played together.”

In 1994, Tony joined Tom Maves and Dale Mussell to fill a spot in RINGS when Steve Moser took a brief pause.  “I had thirty days to learn thirty songs and at the time was single enough to get it done.”  Before RINGS, Tony had played with Steve and Tom for a company party and had been taking guitar lessons from Steve.  By the time of Steve’s return, Tony had become an essential part of RINGS and the quartet was born.

Tony’s favorite artists include; The Beatles, Sting, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young, CSN, Yes, Rush, Indigo Girls, Peter Gabriel, Acoustic Alchemy, Alex Degrassi, Michael Hedges and William Ackerman.  Tony plays six and twelve string guitars, bass guitar, harmonica, mandolin and percussion.  His vocal covers of Neil Young songs are uncannily close to the originals and his New Age introspection is evident in his original songs; Until We Meet, Going Home and the often requested Reign of Rain.

Tony’s family continues to play the leading role in his life and can often be seen supporting him at RINGS appearances.  And Tony counts himself among the fortunate few for, in RINGS, he has had the ability to perform together with his son Anthony who has become a solid musician in his own right.

It’s a special thing to play music with Tom, Steve and Dale for this long and to be able to play with them and my son is a blessing beyond words!”

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