As musicians, the guys in this band are no joke... you might not be able to stand still.
— Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal
 
 

Miracle Mule is a highly energetic, infectiously fun dance band from Marin County.  They play good-time Americana with some spicy Louisiana seasoning -- or what they prefer to describe as "swampy-tonk."  So that's a tasty melange of country honky-tonk, cajun/zydeco, rockabilly, blues and country swing. 

The Mules feature three lead singers, tight three-part harmonies and solid musicianship.  And their versatile instrumentation (accordion, piano, sax, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, pedal steel, harmonica, washboard/percussion, bass and drums) gives their sound tremendous range and diversity.

 

 

The Mules got their start, humbly enough, in October 2009 when a talented group of parents teamed up to play a show for their kids' school.  They took their name from the quirky song, Miracle Mule, by the SubDudes.  They continue to return to their roots, playing an annual show at the school each October, but have developed a large and loyal following playing all over Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties.  The Mules play at most of the more prestigious local clubs (Rancho Nicasio, Sweetwater, Fenix, HopMonk, Lagunitas, Twin Oaks Tavern, etc.) as well as dozens of wineries and Bay Area festivals (including the Sonoma County Fair, Healdsburg Summer Concert Series, Novato Art & Wine Festival, Isleton Cajun Festival, Clif Family Winery Harvest Festival -- 6 consecutive years! -- and 4th of July celebrations for Corte Madera, Emeryville and Albany).

 

 

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Geoff "El Jefe" Mack

Band Leader, Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Banjo, Lead & Backup Vocals, Songwriter, Recording Engineer, Webmaster

Geoff created Miracle Mule by accident in 2009 -- and has been paying for it ever since, He is the primary visionary (main one to blame) for creating the Mules' sound and coming up with the term "swampy-tonk" to describe it -- and for writing the song "Swampy Tonkin'" to make it famous (still pending).  He started out playing his dad's guitar when he was a mere tot.  He took it way too seriously as a teenager, dreaming of becoming the next Eddie Van Halen.  In his 20s he played in countless popular Bay Area bands, including Radio Noise (on the Live 105 Best Bands compilation CD in the 90s) and Rummage Sale (which signed with Warner Brothers and worked with Green Day).  When he turned 30 he gave up all the glory for a career in web design and to raise a family.  During his 40s he contracted the country music bug and managed to find his guitar in the attic under a pile of soccer balls and his wife's shoe collection.  Now he can play just about anything with strings (well, unless it also has pedals or a bow). He also writes some of the most quirky, irreverent, head-spinning songs you'll hear anywhere. 


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Sandy "Tennis Anyone?" Geller

Lead & Backup Vocals, Piano

The band readily concedes that Sandy has the best voice and is the best-looking member of the Mules (though, technically, a female mule would be called a "jenny.").  She studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, which lends the band its thin veneer of musical legitimacy.  She teaches piano and voice at the Marin Music Center in Novato -- and she has a thing or two to teach the Mules too (some about music, but mostly just about how to behave decently in public)  She joined Miracle Mule in 2015, just in time to get in on the Novato Art & Wine Festival performance and the Mule's 2015 CD, Swampy Tonkin'.  But she is no new-comer to Americana music -- prior to joining the Mules she performed with Uphill Both Ways and still appears with Blind Date.  She is also an accomplished jazz vocalist and pianist.  She used to sing with female jazz vocal trio, Pastiche, and she now performs regularly with the Tracy Rose Trio.  But her real passion is tennis, and she's currently in training for the US Women's Open (hey, a girl can dream, can't she?).


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Dick "You Don't Know Dick" Bay

Accordion, Piano, Tenor Sax, Lead & Backup Vocals, Songwriter, Band Videos

Dick started in Nashville back in the 70s, playing with the likes of John Hiatt and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.  While there he helped found the good-time trio, the Babushka Brothers, which is still performing 45+ years later, mostly doing shows for Bread and Roses.  He moved to the Bay Area in 1975, playing with rock band Kingdom Come and his own country swing band Hickory Switch.  He took a break for several decades to have a career with Wells Fargo, but moved to the front of the stage coach when he signed on with the Mules in 2010.  Somewhere along the way he taught himself jazz piano and currently plays with jazz groups Namely Us and Schuster & Bay.  He wrote half of the originals on the Mules' Swampy-Tonkin' CD and his lyrics are full of off-beat humor and clever word play.  He pounds a mean piano.  He learned to play his dad's accordion in a naive effort to join the "cool" kids who brought their guitars in on the last day of school.  Now he's relearning sax, which he played briefly way back in the 70s, and which now makes his dog howl and adds a new dimension to the Mules' sound.


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Brian "Washboard" Dettor

Washboard, Percussion, Harmonica, Background Vocals, Sound Engineer, Band Photographer

Brian is the other original Mule still with the band.  He likes to bang on just about anything that's handy -- steering wheels, tables, boxes, coolers -- but mostly his chest, at least when he's wearing his trademark washboard.  His washboard -- and other toys from his bag of percussion tricks -- add perfect tasty touches to the Mules' sound that you almost don't notice until they aren't there.  He can also really wail on the blues harmonica.  And when the band is playing he has a hard time keeping still, dancing along with the music and the crowd.  Occasionally you'll see him take a break from playing to twiddle a few dials on the PA or snap some photos of fans or his fellow band members.  He is an accomplished professional photographer, an award-winning cinematographer, and has lots of film credits in production, sound, camera, editing and even transportation, including films such as: The Horse Whisperer, What Dreams May Come and the Matrix sequels.  He also works as a production coordinator, mostly in the corporate world, including working on recent victory parades for the Giants and Warriors (though he claims no credit for the actual victories).   His first drumming experience was in a punk rock band in the early 80s.  Now that he's in his 40s he has finally come to accept that country music is actually music.  But his favorite country band is still the Clash.


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Marco "Polo" Petrella

Upright & Electric Bass

Marco holds down the funky bottom for the Mules, helping to make their songs irresistibly danceable.  In addition to playing with the Mules, he celebrates his Italian roots playing "old world Italian music" with ANCORA! (previously known as the Don Giovannis).  That includes performing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" each year at Italian night at AT&T park.  He also plays swing, folk and jazz, and even did a stint on the Holland America cruise line.  As if that wasn't enough, he also periodically plays in the orchestra for musical theater productions, including Always Patsy Cline and Honky Tonk Angels at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda, Let's Misbehave - the Music of Cole Porter, and We Can Do It - the Music of WWII - Rosie the Riveter.  He coined the Mules' catch phrase, "Mule on" (stubbornly persevere in the face of life's repetitively daunting burdens), which in turn inspired the band's popular anthem, "Mule On."


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Jimbo "Plumber Dude" Lehmann

Drums

When he's not drummin' he's plumbin' -- and vice versa.  Jimbo keeps the funky New Orleans beat going and is the glue that holds the Mules together.  He played in school bands since 5th grade and his high school jazz band was the first place winner at two different jazz festivals.  He was part of the San Francisco punk rock movement back in the late 70s / early 80s (what is it with Mules' percussionists and punk rock?) and put out a few CDs and even made a TV appearance or two.  Now when he's not playing for the Mules you may find him banging his sticks with rock band Kool Whip.  He also plays Italian music with Steve Albini and other fine Italian accordionists.  Jimbo joined the Mules in 2014 and he's the Italian connection that brought Marco into the band right on his heels.  Jimbo is active in Girl Scouts and once brought the Mules to Girl Scout camp for a campground show.  The Mules created a special Swampy Tonk merit badge for the occasion.


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Charlie "Pedal-to-the-Metal" Fager

Pedal Steel Guitar

Charlie is a self-taught student of the E9 Universal pedal steel guitar who married his music teacher [wait a minute -- if you're self-taught, how can you marry your teacher?].  His teacher is Sandy Geller, who just so happens to be the lead singer in the Mules [oh, now we get it].  So now he gets into even worse trouble when he doesn't practice his scales.  As a youngster growing up in Boston, his mother forced him to learn glockenspiel, which paved the way to a leading role in his elementary school band.  And to countless tours with some of the biggest Glock Rock bands of the 70s and 80s.  Those were good times, but the lifestyle -- and the bills for hotel room trashings -- eventually caught up with him.  At 55 years old, he decided it was finally time to switch to the pedal steel guitar, which has always been his favorite instrument.