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The Great Whiskey Project: The band

The Great Whiskey Project formed in 2010 when a soulful singer/songwriter and an explosive Irish fiddler teamed up with other Chicago musicians to fuse foot-stomping rythms with poignant melodies. The result is a contagious new sound that will make you want to stay for another drink.

The Great Whiskey Project loves to play great songs. They are less concerned about the genre that those songs fall into. They will play traditional Irish music, Johnny Cash, Gnarls Barkley, Elvis and The White Stripes in the same set. It all works together. They are most proud of their dozens of original songs. They are constantly writing.

Past Shows

The musicians who comprise The Great Whiskey Project have performed together and with other musical groups at dozens of their favorite Chicago venues, including: Schubas, Subterranean, Martyrs, The Irish American Heritage Center, The Bottom Lounge, The Wise Fools Pub, The Beat Kitchen, Gunther Murphy’s, The Underground Lounge, Tommy Nevin’s, Molly Malone’s, O’Brien’s, Gilhooly’s Grand Saloon, Bridie McKenna’s, Quigley’s Irish Pub, Auld Dubliner’s, Murphy’s Pub, Sam Maquire’s, and many others.

John Shine: Fiddle, piano

John was born in Dublin, Ireland and grew up on Chicago’s South Side, learning fiddle from some of the city’s Irish music legends. His passion and distinct style of play have earned praise from top Irish musicians, including Liz Carroll with whom he has performed. For him, The Great Whiskey Project is a treasured creative outlet where he is challenged to move beyond his comfort zone and explore new sounds. John speaks three languages but refuses to sing in any of them.

Charley Thornton: Lead vocals, guitar

Charley began writing songs at 15. Some of them were even good. Today, he only tries to write good ones. He has headed original rock and punk groups in Chicago as well as performing his acoustic music solo. If he were on American Idol, the judges would ask for his opinion of them.

Frank Brannon: Bass, mandolin, keys, vocals

Frank is a multi instrumentalist and audio perfectionist. He has performed on the Chicago scene for more than 10 years. He understands waveforms and how they behave in different rooms. Sometimes, the others don’t know what he is talking about. His hair is epic.

Joe Linn: Drums

Joe is a metronome with dynamite strapped to it. He brings with him the widest and most eclectic musical influences and tastes. His signature red drum kit has had its engine rebuilt three times yet shows no rust. He is pursuing a PhD in philosophy at Loyola University. Sometimes, the others wish they knew what he was talking about. His hair is less than epic.

Pete Searby: Banjo, guitar, vocals

Pete first picked up the guitar when his family moved to Chicago. Cocooned in cold winters and great blues music, he emerged with fingers full of soul. He has led a blues rock band, buoyed the swing revival of the 90’s, and even formed a jugband. Through it all, Irish music has been close to his heart. “My father used to sing Irish tunes in New York City pubs” he says. Pete recently picked up the mandolin and banjo. He rocks with sickening ease.