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Angelo’s July 2016

Work in Progress performs at the Homewood Art & Garden 
Fair in June. The band will be on stage again from 
3 to 5 p.m. Saturday during Homewood Fall Fest.

(Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

When a band has multiple multi-instrumentalists, the musical possibilities increase. 

Although he joined Work in Progress after it was named, Jeff Maharry sees the name as a statement about the intention to keep exploring those possibilities.

“It’s always going to be a work in progress,” he said. “There are so many ideas, so many possibilities.”

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Maharry said he “just plays guitar,” but he sings, too, so that’s two instruments. Band co-founder Dirk French plays five instruments. Other members fall somewhere between in their contributions to the band’s sound.

Local listeners who want to get a sense for that sound will have an opportunity Saturday at the Homewood Fall Festival. Work in Progress will perform from 3 to 5 p.m. The festival will take place on Martin Avenue between Ridge and Hickory roads.

The founding members of the band are Homewood-Flossmoor High School mates who attended in the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to banjo player Steve Klein. 

He and Bob Martin, Rob Mayes, French and Mike Peebles all played music during high school years. French said he, Mayes and Peebles were in bands together during the early 1970s. But they went separate ways after high school. 

French returned to Homewood after college and has been here most of his life since, and others returned over time. They started reconnecting a couple of years ago. Klein and Mayes met at a funeral. French and Peebles found themselves at the same party. They decided it was time to get a band going. 

The band members met Maharry at Homewood Hoot-nanny, a series of informal musical gatherings organized early in 2015 by Steve Buchtel and Steve Ploum. They invited Maharry to join them. With Tim Majkowski and Kleins son, Steve, on bass, the band was set.

The band’s musical influences come under the broad category of Americana, with elements of bluegrass, newgrass, blues and rock styles. The music seemed to emerge naturally from the instrumentation. In addition to guitars, bass and banjo, the band includes mandolin, harmonica and cajon, a Peruvian percussion instrument.

“I think that we developed a sound by accident,” Klein said. “I really feel that we all decided to do things outside of our comfort zone. We do songs that half the people in the band have never heard before. I just feel blessed by being surrounded by people with such talent.”

“I think what gives us another flare is we have multiple generations with different musical backgrounds and different interests in music that have come together to create this,” he added.

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