What they do...
Together since 2013, Rogue Lobster has played over 200 shows and released three full-length albums of original music. Essentially bluegrass in their instrumentation, their style is a bit harder to pin down - ranging from traditional bluegrass to Americana and modern folk, with particular focus on three-part harmonies and instrumental leads. All four members compose and collaborate on their original material.
Based out of Walla Walla, WA, the band has ample opportunity to play tasting rooms and small venues in the little wine oasis nestled on the foothills of the Blues. They also play regionally, and traveled to the far reaches of Minnesota to promote their first album, "Dust on our Toes."
Who they are...
Libby Miller, a professor of art history at Whitman College, is also a classically trained cellist and vocalist who grew up in a musical family in Brussels, Belgium. Her father was a pianist for the Brussels Opera House, and her mother, a clarinet player. Libby was surrounded by music and musicians of all stripes while growing up. In her late twenties, she began to step away from classical cello and picked up the fiddle in her deep dive into Old Time music. With Rogue Lobster, her cello plays double duty, sometimes played like an upright bass, other times like a really big fiddle. You should see her put that thing under her chin.
Jerry Yokel is the lead chemist for the Department of Ecology at the Hanford Site. His stompin' grounds are the hills of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. A promising trombone player as a child, he switched to electric bass while at Indiana University in the early 1970s and played in rock bands. He later picked up the fiddle, the mandolin, and the blues harp, playing in the Backwater Bluegrass band throughout Kentuckiana. Since arriving in Walla Walla, he's played everything from Blues to Cajun to Irish to Salsa. His versatility makes him one of the most sought-after musicians in Eastern Washington. He's in lots of bands, but Rogue Lobster is his favorite. And he absolutely saw this and said we could keep it in.
JR Van Slyke first learned songwriting from his mother, a preschool teacher in Eau Claire, WI. He moved well before his hometown would become a musical hotbed of the Midwest. He comes to Walla Walla by way of Madison and Missoula, where he met his wife Courtney. In addition to singing, J.R. plays both banjo and guitar for Rogue Lobster, the former for performing, and the latter for writing music. When not making music, hanging out with his boys, or wandering the backcountry, he spends his days as a professor of history at the community college in Walla Walla. Music is like a great big gift that he gets to unwrap pretty much every freakin’ day.
Guitarist and singer Adam Kirtley crawled out of a cornfield in central Indiana before making his way to Walla Walla where he serves as the Interfaith Chaplain of Whitman College. Living in Scotland in his early twenties, he was influenced by traditional Celtic pub music, and went on to release two albums as a solo artist. Shortly after he arrived in WA, he hooked up with Jerry Yokel to form The Rogues, an Irish Pub band. In the fall of 2013, he called a jam session with a few musical friends who'd not played with each other before. A couple of months later they booked their first gig as Rogue Lobster.
For their first two years (and two records), the band featured accordion player Libby Arnosti. In 2015 she loaded up her VW bus and trekked back to her Minnesota home. Within a few months, Libby Miller joined the ranks. Rogue Lobster believes that there are many women not named Libby who are also good musicians...we just have yet to meet them.