The Unshaven Heroes
The Unshaven Heroes are a band of musicians created in 1988. Much of the band’s music revolves around fishing and outdoors.
Limited edition CD of The Unshaven Heroes
“Songs About Fishin”, produced in 2004
The idea for the musical group The Unshaven Heroes started in 1988, when Nebraska Wesleyan students Greg “Flounder” Page and Marcus Harvey came to make music with Matt Steinhausen at a house he rented on Winthrop Avenue in Lincoln, NE. Page came up with the name “The Unshaven Heroes” based on the rough, disheveled look of the three. The first recordings were through a single microphone, plugged into a standard cassette tape deck.
Page and Harvey didn’t stick around, but Doug Cobb was a regular at the Winthrop house and soon he and Steinhausen labeled themselves “The Unshaven Heroes”. Cobb’s punk-based song “I Got a Big Skittle” about his Ford Festiva was a favorite, and it was originally recorded at the Winthrop house.
Doug Cobb was one of the first members of the Unshaven Heroes.
This photo is from a raft-race in 1989. The raft was created from a
car seat and cooler mounted on a pallet which sat on 3 inner tubes.
A Real Band
The next Unshaven Hero was Bryan Kirchhoff, a high school classmate of Steinhausen and Cobb, who could play drums either left or right-handed. Originally Steinhausen had the idea that Kirchhoff would play bass, but the drums worked out much better. Kirchhoff and Steinhausen wrote songs “HyVee Cola”, “Tubin’” and “I Need A ...” at the Winthrop house. Eventually Cobb moved to KS and later to AK, abandoning his musical aspirations.
An early cassette tape insert from 1989,
from left are Steinhausen, Cobb and Kirchhoff.
You may notice that Steinhausen spelled
In 1989 Steinhausen moved to a house at 27th and C Streets in Lincoln where the basement became the bandroom. Steinhausen upgraded his equipment and wrote new songs including “I Like to Say A” and “Walking Down the Street”, which were a little more refined than the punky, early songs.
Steinhausen’s guitar collection in 1990. He was
trying to be the next Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.
Steinhausen’s Monday Night Football gatherings at C Street were an occasion for the band and various friends to play. Dan Rea, a MNF regular and friend of Steinhausen’s through college, brought Steve Koeber in for one Monday jam. Koeber went home with a rehearsal tape, and by the next Monday, he knew all the songs and added lead guitar. Soon Steinhausen, Kirchhoff and Koeber were the official “Unshaven Heroes”. Koeber brought in his own original music, which was a perfect blend to what the others were playing. Koeber’s “Gotta Go” was the band’s trademark tune. With Koeber on guitar, Steinhausen at bass, and Kirchhoff on drums, the group played together for about a year or two, which included playing a few small gigs and appearing at the Big Red Rockorama.
The Unshaven Heroes in about 1992, from left are Steve Koeber,
Matt Steinhausen and Andy Moore – ironically, all three band members
were cleanly shaven when this photo was taken
Kirchhoff wasn’t interested in being in a band, so Steve Koeber introduced Andy Moore to the group in about 1991. Moore and Koeber were University of Nebraska art students who both had a passion for fishing and music. Their art teacher introduced them and suggested they get together to make some music. Moore brought an aggressive drumming style to the band as well as his earthy, African-influenced acoustic drum rhythms. The Unshaven Heroes put together one set of loud, driving songs on the electric instruments, and another set of fast-paced acoustic songs - with a pair of guitars, 2-part vocal harmonies, and Moore’s various percussion instruments. Often the Unshaven Heroes would practice / play while on fishing excursions. Numerous fishing songs came as a result.
Andy Moore (at left with Crappie) and
Matt Steinhausen joined forces in 1991.
When not making music they were fishing.
With Moore, the Unshaven Heroes played intermittent shows at festivals and various dates at Lincoln bars. The band was asked to play at many Earth Day festivals because the acoustic sound and ‘outdoorsy’ theme of the music. The Unshaven Heroes were recorded as a part of a University of Nebraska student-production class project at the Nebraska Educational Television studios, where a half-hour video was produced and televised.
Koeber on guitar and Moore at the drums
in the C Street basement in about 1993
The band members stayed friends and played occasionally, but obligations to work and family took away the spare time that they had to play together. Each pursued music, but did so separately - Steinhausen played in a band with his brother, Moore played with Omaha area musicians, and Koeber wrote and recorded music at his home studio.
Matt Steinhausen and Nikko Merritt play in the “Bandroom”
In 2000 Steinhausen moved the musical gear from his basement in town to a garage at his acreage. The “Bandroom” as it became known, was used frequently in summer months, however, it was too cold to use in the winter. Moore was a rare visitor to the farm due to the distance from his Omaha home. As a result, many guest musicians were invited to play during summer months, and either Steinhausen or Koeber would fill-in on whichever instrument was vacant. While in the Bandroom, Koeber and Steinhausen refined a number of new songs, including the song “Twister”. Johnny Machado often played the drums in place of Moore. Machado wrote and sang the humorous “Long Lost Puppy”.
Johnny Machado practicing at Jeff Perry’s studio
The Monday Night Football Garage (different than the Bandroom garage) was equipped with a fireplace, television, stereo and seating so it could be used year-round. Steinhausen accumulated acoustically oriented instruments for “The Garage”, and eventually it filled with washboards, congas, bongos, shakers, harmonicas and acoustic guitars. Everyone was invited to take part.
Neighbor PhilBob Wilkason and long-time friend Johnny Machado were the 2001 Monday Night Football regulars along with Steinhausen. This new version of the Unshaven Heroes wrote and played songs that would often last 10 minutes or more. Sometimes a song would start at halftime and it wouldn’t end until mid-way thru the 3rd quarter. Steinhausen played acoustic guitar; Johnny would play the paper sack, harmonica, and / or bucket; and PhilBob would sing. PhilBob’s singing combined his silly rhymes with a poetic rhythm, and an endless string of words that would start with one subject, end with something completely different, and yet somehow make complete sense. No two songs were ever the same with PhilBob.
Unshaven Heroes Marty Steinhausen (guitar) and PhilBob Wilkason
(seated with straw hat) sing a song in the garage, with guests in
accompaniment on various noise-making apparatus
Songs About Fishing
In 2003 Steinhausen decided to put together a CD, “Songs About Fishing” which combined some of the band’s early songs with some new songs. It was recorded at Jeff Perry’s 9th Street Studio in Lincoln. With the help of guest musicians Marty Steinhausen, Jeff Perry and Steve Koeber, the “Songs About Fishing” CD was created. Unfortunately many of the original recordings were lost due to a digital malfunction, thus the rough 2-track master recordings are raw and can not be re-mixed.
Unshaven Heroes Justin G. Jones (left) and
Matt Steinhausen take a break from work to
play a couple songs about fishing
Steinhausen assembled his own digital recording interface and software in 2006, and has since re-recorded much of the “Songs About Fishing” CD, adding a few new songs, re-mastering some of the old 2-track recordings, and re-recording a few others. The CD will always be a work in progress, but numerous “demo” copies are floating around, each new one better and more comprehensive than the last.
Other Band Members
Everyone that ever played with the band became part of the “Unshaven Hero” fraternity. All told, there are hundreds of people that have played with the Unshaven Heroes. In addition to the hundreds of various get-togethers, over 300 practices and jams have occurred on Monday Night Football evenings since 1990, usually with a different lineup of “musicians” each week.
A couple Unshaven Heroes practice washboards in The Garage.
The Unshaven Heroes’ future will probably be much of the same as the past – music with friends, playing on Monday nights, and recording new and/or old songs, whenever there is the urge.
As Andy Moore once said (or meant to say):
“We’re not just a group of musicians, we’re a ‘band’ of friends”