Studio Strings is the husband and wife duo of Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines. That’s us. We met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 80’s and almost immediately began making music together. We were both music majors and involved with the UW Symphony Orchestra as well as Black Music Ensemble (a jazz performance class taught by the great bassist, Richard Davis). While in school, we both explored different musical avenues. Mary anchored a very cool acoustic jazz trio, “Nobody’s Bizness”, with her sinuous and fresh cello lines supporting a mandolinist and a guitarist, while I was cutting my fiddle teeth in a succession of country, bluegrass, jazz, blues, and rock bands. Our mutual musical fates were sealed when Mary joined me in the swing trio, “The Mammals of Swing”. We played coffeehouses and house-parties, and regularly opened our cases on the street, often making just enough dough for a nice dinner and a bottle of cheap wine. What a life!

During that time I met Sims Delaney-Potthoff, a mandolinist fresh out of Berklee School of Music in Boston. Along with Jon Cooper (guitar), and Laurie Lang (bass), we formed the vintage string jazz quartet, Harmonious Wail. This ensemble remained together for about three years, put out one album, and performed at colleges, festivals, and clubs all over the country. Harmonious Wail has gone through a few personnel changes, but the ‘Wail is still making great music, both here and in Europe.

In the meantime, Mary began a songwriting partnership with Asa Miura, making tapes of their original works on a boom-box in Asa’s basement studio. In 1989, Mary, Asa, and I formed The Common Faces, an all original “folk-soul” group that ranged from an acoustic trio to a full-blown ten-piece band with horns, percussion, guitars, keyboards, kitchen sinks, giraffes, etc. Over most of a decade, The Common Faces released four albums, toured all over the US and Europe, and shared the stage with many great musicians including: Suzanne Vega, Warren Zevon, Richie Havens, The Nylons, Greg Brown, Peter Himmelman, and Willy Porter.

During all of these years, we had been friends with another talented singer-songwriter, Robert J. Conaway. When the Common Faces weren’t gigging, Robert would hire us for his shows. Around 1998, the Common Faces decided to hang up our “folk-soul” hats, so we teamed up with Robert and Mauro Magellan (formerly the drummer with the Georgia Satellites) to form The Moon Gypsies, which remains our current writing, recording, and performing band. Although we all contribute as songwriters, Robert J. is the Moon Gypsies’ resident tunesmith, and actually won 1st Place in the 1999 Billboard Songwriting Contest for his tune, “A Million Miles Away” that Mary sings. The Moon Gypsies released our self-titled debut CD in 1999, and our newest CD, "SLiP", was released in March 2002, and is now available through our website and in most Madison retail locations.

© 2008