I was born, January 5, 1960 in Hudson, WI to Katherine Ann and Leo Patrick Finn, my older siblings being; Joseph 7, Loretta 5 and Marianne 3. At only 5 days old, I have no recollection moving from St. Paul, MN to upstate NY. I do remember growing up in idyllic Old Chatham, and always being surrounded by music. Mom sang, played piano and organ for fun. Dad also played the piano, though more like a serious hobby, and composed jazz music. He'd done a radio show in Hartford, CT for a time, called "Spin With Finn", and his hi-fi was always spinning at home too. We would all sing, play the piano, guitar, bass, harmonica, bongos, whatever instrument was free, or just listen to music together to pass the time. I think it wasn't until I was 7 or 8 before I realized everyone in the world didn't make music.
In elementary school I sang in the choir and played the clarinet in the band. I started private piano lessons with Dan Block. A sensitive, classically trained pianist who used the Bela Bartok method to try and break me of my predisposition to play by ear and learn to sight-read piano music. I'm still working on it.
I had my first paying gig at the Chatham Bowl when I was 13. Those lanes are still open! I played a beat up old Fender Rhodes electric piano that my mom had gotten for me. I played local events and won a "battle of the bands" contest with a rock/jazz band I led called "Flight". I worked my first night clubs in Hudson, Woodstock & Albany, NY with "Carl Erwin And The Slip And Shakes" when I was 15. Carl would drive 3 hours almost every day to get me back and forth to rehearsals and gigs. Mom would reciprocate with some home cooked Italian dinners. Those guys could really eat!
In my freshman year in high school, I joined the stage band, directed by a great teacher, Stephen Gitto. He brought in Nick Brignola for a clinic. Mr. Gitto used to let me practice on the schools best piano and take home band instruments to check out. He let me pick some arrangements one day. Imagine Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" played by a really small school's jazz band, hysterical! We even played a tune I had written for that band, and arranged with my brother's help. (www.joefinn.net) Fresh from college with a B.A. (Music), Joe gave me a crash course in big band arranging. We began working together locally, while my school was in, with "Prime Time Review" and and toured in the summer. We were playing together in another group when we suffered a major set back. A local club, where we were working, burned to the ground. My Fender Rhodes Suitcase electric piano, a Clavinet D6, Joe's Altec P.A. System, the works, all new, all up in smoke. To this day, I despise the thought of leaving my stuff set up in a club overnight. Ironically, that band's name was "Wild Fire". The following summer I moved to Saratoga Springs, NY and joined the rock group "Street Magic". Sympathetic to my lack of gear, they let me use their keyboard rig until I got another one up and running, nice bunch of guys. After my early graduation from high school in 1978, I continued to work the northeast with the Albany based band, "Final Take" for about a year, until Gabe Garland called me about an opening in "The McCoys".
I began what became a five-year road tour with "The McCoy’s" (Hang On Sloopy). I played my first arenas with Slim Whitman, and his steel guitar player, Harold Bradley (Former Vice-President of the International American Federation of Musicians and former President of local # 257 in Nashville). This group subsequently changed it's name to "Jonas And Friends”, due to new management, and settled finally in Las Vegas, NV. We became a mainstay there for over 15 years.
I took what turned out to be a two year sabbatical from this group after getting married and moving to Green Bay, WI. There I was graced with my first son Michael Lewis. I led a regional group called "The Finn Brother's Band". Joe and I reunited for a time, but it was short lived, too much traveling. I stuck it out for a couple of years, but ultimately found myself back in Las Vegas with Jonas, where we rarely had to leave the city to work.
We'd nailed down some of the best gigs in town. I met my all time idols, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sam Butera, Charlie Callas, Sam Kinison, on and on. I logged an incalculable amount of hours on stages, doubling on alto sax, "strolling" table tops and bars, and tripling on electric bass. I garnered my education, if you can call it that, in Nevada, old school style. In 1989 I was blessed once again with another son, Leo John Jr. For 2 years I worked with "In The Mood", a 5 piece group with 3 keyboard players! Then I took a gig in the house band "Smokey River" in a club named "Wild Fire" about a half mile from my house. There I played mostly country music and made the associations which brought me to "Music City"
Nashville became home in 1993 and since then I've been very fortunate to have worked with some of the industries biggest stars.
ARLINGTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (conductor: Mike Behymer)
BILLY JOE ROYAL
BILLY JOE SHAVER
BILLY RAY CYRUS
CHUCK NEGRON (formerly w/Three Dog Night)
DANVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (Jeremy Swirling-Director/Conductor)
FT BEND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (conductor: Dr. Héctor Agüero Jr.)
LEE ROY PARNELL
SPRINGFIELD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (Kevin Rhodes Director/Conductor)
THE 5TH DIMENSION (w/Florence La Rue)
THE BEACH BOYS BAND
T. GRAHAM BROWN
TONY JOE WHITE
Piano, Organ, Synthesizers & Vocals.
Live Performance, Studio Recording, Arrangements, (Nashville number system or traditional lead sheets), Composition, Piano/Keyboard Instruction, 10 years experience as a solo pianist and accompanist, Comfortable playing in configurations ranging from solo to symphony orchestra, "speaks" Blues, Country, Folk, Jazz, Latin, Pop, R&B, Rock and many of these styles' sub-genres.
RADIO, TELEVISION, INTERNET:
Cnn News, Crook and Chase, Grand Ol' Opry, Music City Tonight, Prime Time Country Talk Of The Town, You Tube Videos: search BJ Thomas
Leo is touring with BJ Thomas as his keyboardist and bandleader, and also with special event shows that features BJ Thomas, his band WHITE DONUT and other artists. Leo alsocontinues to write, record and freelance in and around Nashville.