Stella Ruze is…
Brendan Johnson (Lead Vocals/Guitar)
Katie O’Donnell (Lead Vocals, Mandolin, Percussion)
Mason Wallack (Keyboard, Vocals)
Alex Styer (Trumpet, Percussion, Vocals)
Sean McIntyre (Drums)
Ted Mayo (Bass)
Vince Gleason (Saxophone)
About The Band
Folk/Roots-Rock band Stella Ruze was founded in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia in 2014. Bandleaders Brendan Johnson & Katie O’Donnell frequently played dive bars and open mic nights. The band wasn’t truly formed until the duo was introduced to keyboardist Mason Wallack and trumpet player Alex Styer. At that time, they began calling themselves ‘Stella Ruze’ as a way to embody Johnson’s underlying song themes of love lost/love found, while paying homage to Styer’s New Orleans horn style, O’Donnell’s vocal harmonies, and melodic piano hooks from Wallack.
As a 4-piece, the band released two studio recordings. In June 2016, the band released So Here-LP that featured 8 songs written by Johnson but modified to fit the Stella Ruze mold. In October 2017, Stella released a five-song, self-titled EP, in which they received assistance from renowned sound engineer & drummer, Matt Muir, and creative direction from Philly music legend Ben Arnold. Stella Ruze performed a SOLD-OUT EP release show on Friday, October 6th, 2017 at Milkboy Philadelphia with co-headliner Josiah Johnson from The Head and The Heart.
Since the EP’s release, Stella Ruze has since added accomplished blues drummer Sean McIntyre, bass guitar extraordinaire Ted Mayo, and a Philadelphia staple in saxophone player, Vince Gleason, who is a lifetime member of the legendary Mummer group – Ferko String Band. Completing the make-up of the band, Stella Ruze now comprises 7 musicians. The band has established an enthusiastic following, receiving moderate praise from WXPN hosts Dan Reed, Mike Vasilikos and Helen Leicht. The band has also played shows with nationally-touring acts like Pete Francis of Dispatch, Kuinka, Midnight North, and Blue Water Highway.
By Anna Orso, Billy Penn
“Who’s Next Because: Stella Ruze has years of experience performing gigs in bars and parties across Philadelphia while lead vocalist Brendan Johnson sings and trumpet calls linger. Their performances are highlighted by steady guitar grooves and fiery interplay between trumpet and keyboard, and choruses bring the entire band together in four-part harmonies.”
By Joseph Bloss, The Key
“But the band is able to fulfill that self-supplied label with the genre-crossing sound it prides itself so heavily on. Folky vibes line the vocal harmonies of Brendan Johnson and Katie Burke and their string work on mandolin and guitar. The Lumineers tag is prevalent in songs like “Chivalry” and “Windows,” while the similarities to Trombone Shorty are more obviously heard in brass numbers like “Somebody Told Me.” And with keyboard work from Mason Wallack, the sound is completed to occupy something at the intersection of folk, jazz, and pop.”