10,000 Maniacs: One of the most critically acclaimed bands of the last three decades, 10,000 Maniacs, was founded by Robert Buck, Dennis Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie Merchant in the fall of 1981. Jerry Augustyniak joined in 1983. Together with artists like R.E.M., they defined college rock and created the first wave of alternative rock bands and what became know as the alternative rock format on FM radio.
Writing and performing powerful, danceable, and socially conscious original material in and around their hometown of Jamestown, New York, the group toured extensively and produced two independently released records, Human Conflict Number Five (‘82) and Secrets of the I Ching (‘83) on their own Christian Burial Music label.
In 1993, 10,000 Maniacs continued without Merchant, bringing back John Lombardo and adding Mary Ramsey in 1994.
The new lineup released Love Among the Ruins for Geffen Records in 1997, featuring a cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This," which went to #24 on the Billboard charts, the highest-charting single in the band's history. The Chicago Tribune noted: "If the 11 new singles rolled out are any indication of things to come, the new incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs may eclipse the old." Chicago Sun Times simply said, “Natalie Who?” 10,000 Maniacs continued their grinding touring schedule, finding new fans in Mexico, Portugal and Brazil.
The band wrote and recorded new material and geared up for an extensive tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2011.
Todd Kessler is a Chicago-based Singer/Songwriter featured on Season 3 of NBC's The Voice. Todd fronts the Chicago based band Todd Kessler and The New Folk (thenewfolk.net) whose latest album "Sea Fever" is now available on iTunes. In addition to 4 previous released under his own label, Wyzguy Records, Kessler has had songs featured on CW's "Hellcats" and the web-series "Prom Queen".