Gateway City Big Band

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

Facebook    Twitter


Gene FribisKEVIN SCHRIEWER
Piano

Piano/keyboard player Kevin Schriewer (pronounced Shreever) was born and reared in the German community of Hermann, Missouri. He began classical piano lessons at age five and branched out from there playing trumpet in the high school band. He also sang and tap danced in the school musical productions.

Performing was a big part of his younger years. As early as age 13 he was playing with the Moonlight Serenaders of Foristell, Missouri, followed by the B. A. Wagner Band and the Sonny Leftholtz Band. Though these bands were generally dance bands, young Kevin enjoyed playing rock and roll also.

Kevin went to St. Louis University on a golf scholarship. Before he graduated the program was cut and he went to work for Chrysler. After two years he enrolled in the Rolla School of Mines (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) and acquired a Master's degree in Ceramic Engineering.

After high school, Kevin "kind of quit music." He married Debbie and they had two daughters. He traveled worldwide with his job and has lived in Texas, Ohio and Taiwan.

In 1997 Kevin began subbing for dance bands in the St. Louis area, including the Gateway City Big Band. By November, 2001 he had become a full time member of the GCBB.

Kevin loves to play jazz and considers Art Tatum one of his favorite jazz pianists. Although he has played and performed most of his life, he feels he is still learning. "You have to train your ear to play jazz," he explained. His dedication and sense of humor have been enjoyed by the entire band.  He may be still learning but he's having a good time in the process.


Gene FribisGENE FRIBIS
Piano

A native of St. Louis, Gene grew up in Affton playing baseball, basketball, football and running track. At the same time, Gene’s interest in piano and jazz grew from his first lesson at age ten to the point of playing in a five-piece wedding band in South St. Louis throughout high school.  The band was never short of work, playing nearly every weekend for three years before Gene left town to attend the University of Missouri in Columbia. Majoring in Civil Engineering and being a member of the university track team left little time for piano. Thus began a 27-year hiatus from music before Gene hooked up with a local big band in 1996.

After graduating from Mizzou in 1972, Gene earned his Master’s degree from the University of Missouri at Rolla and began his career in Civil Engineering. In 1979 Gene founded Fribis Engineering, Inc. in Arnold, Missouri where the firm remains located today. Maxing out at 20 employees, Gene now shares management responsibility with his son Jonathan. Gene has been an active participant in Jefferson County civic organizations and has served as president of the Arnold Rotary Club and the Jefferson County Growth and Development Association.

Gene’s interest in big bands started in grade school listening to his parents’ records of Glenn Miller and expanded to all the great jazz players of the 50’s and 60’s, particularly the Basie band, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich and Dave Brubeck.  His favorite piano player is the late Oscar Peterson.  “His technique and speed are incredible,” says Gene.

Gene’s introduction to the Gateway City Big Band came through an invitation from Mike Bruce, the rhythm section leader. “Mike remains my music conscience. I listen to his advice because he understands exactly how a piano should contribute to a big band. I feel privileged to play with and learn from such talented musicians, plus they are great people and have become good friends.”

Gene and wife, Susan, live in Kirkwood and have seven children and eight grandchildren.


John ChrumaJOHN CHRUMA
Guitar

As is often the case with the Gateway City Big Band, John Chruma became a member through the attention of a current band member. Kevin Schriewer, piano, invited him to rehearsals to play bass as a substitute. Also, he was encouraged to play guitar in order to learn the book and increase his playing time.

John’s father had started teaching him guitar when he was ten years old. He played during high school at Francis Howell and in the jazz band at Truman State. His greatest influence was Freddie Green, guitarist with Count Basie.

John plays bass with the St. Charles and O’Fallon city bands. Playing guitar with the GCBB has presented a challenge for him because it had been several years since he played on a regular basis. He says the bass is more of a leadership role and the guitar is more of a supportive instrument. He enjoys the “voicing that complements the piano and acts as the tenor to the bass”.

John grew up in New Melle, St. Charles County. After achieving a Bachelor’s Degree at Truman State, he went to Central Missouri for a Master’s in Mass Communications. He is the Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, for CM Systems, supplying software to construction companies for accounting and costing. In his spare time when he isn’t playing with daughters Abbie and Amelia, he enjoys wood-working. He builds furniture and actually built the bed he sleeps in.


Mike Bruce MIKE BRUCE
Bass

Our bass player and rhythm section leader, Mike Bruce, joined Gateway in 1992. Over his over 45-year career, he has had a variety of musical experiences from being the "token white" in an all-black group at the age of 16 called "Kato and the Hornets" to playing in a bagpipe band.

After playing with a number of local groups while in high school, Mike joined the Army. When his tour of duty was over, he went to college studying the new, burgeoning field of computers. But by the mid-1970's, music called to him again and he went on the road with a show band. Following that experience he returned to school to get his degree in electrical engineering.

As a working musician, Mike has played with the touring bands of Jimmy Dorsey, Dick Jurgens and Sammy Kaye. He has also performed with the vocal groups the Ink Spots and the Four Aces. Other musical experiences include playing country music, bluegrass and Greek music.

Mike was playing in Illinois when he met drummer and former Gateway musician Jack Tartar, who invited him to play with the Gateway City Big Band in 1992. Mike really likes the band and its structure and discipline. The other musical groups that he played with did not require the extensive reading that Gateway needs.

Mike's music has a depth that only years of varied experiences can bring.  The band truly appreciates his skill and rock steady time.  Mike lives with his wife Mary Ellen in South St. Louis.


Kevin WalshKEVIN WALSH
Drums

Section leader Mike Bruce saw Kevin sitting in with another local band and encouraged him to join the GCBB in 2004. Kevin says this is "such a good band, even rehearsal is fun."

Kevin was reared in Spanish Lake, Missouri, graduated from Hazelwood East High School and went to Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, MO, receiving a Bachelor's Degree.

After teaching in St. Genevieve, MO for a year, he went back to North County and was with the Riverview Gardens school district and Ritenour school district. With his eye on the future, Kevin achieved a Master's Degree in School Administration at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

After years of living in St. Louis County, Kevin and his family moved to St. Charles County in 2005. He retired from teaching in June, 2015.


Read about the other band members

Music Director  The Vocalists   Sax Section  Trumpet Section  Trombone Section  Rhythm Section  Retired Band Members