A little bit of history…
For nearly 20 years The Vipers have been entertaining fans in the Pacific Northwest and Europe. These veteran musicians mix an intoxicating brew of Chicago and Delta blues, funky R&B, and New Orleans rhythms that will bring you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. The Vipers is comprised of Jon Silvermoon (vocals, harmonica), Johnny “Guitar” Ward (guitar), Byron Case (vocals, guitar). Russ Whitlach (bass), and Rick Markstrom (vocals, drums).
Since their formation in 1992, The Vipers have supported the best of Eugene, Oregon’s blues musician. Their 1993 CD Venom featured the incendiary guitar work of the late Canned Heat guitarist Henry Vestine. After Vestine’s untimely death in 1997, veteran bluesman Eagle Park Slim joined the band. Several of his original songs are featured on the 2000 release Good Times Live! and he toured Europe with The Vipers in 2002. Deb Cleveland performed with The Vipers from late 2002 through early 2011 and was featured on The Vipers’ 2004 release Tickle My Toes. She toured Europe with the band in 2004.
The Vipers have performed at numerous festivals including The Waterfront Blues Festival, the Eugene Celebration, the Salem Art Fair and Festival, the Florence Fall Festival, the Willamette Valley Folk Festival, the Oregon Country Fair, and the Linköping Jazz and Blues Festival (Sweden). Their European tours have taken them to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands.
JON SILVERMOON – Harmonica
Jon Silvermoon began playing harmonica in 1971. In 1992 he founded The Vipers with his good friend the late Henry Vestine, guitarist with Canned Heat. They collaborated on The Vipers’ first CD, Venom, and played together throughout Oregon until Henry’s passing in 1997. A local promoter and producer Jon released The Vipers’ new CD Good Times Live! and Eugene Blues An Anthology under his own Vipertoons label in early 2000 and Tickle My Toes with Deb Cleveland in 2004, In his review of Good Times Live! Tom Hyslop of Blues Revue wrote that “Silvermoon blows a sometimes teasing, sometime bonecrushing harp.”
JOHN WARD – Guitar
Guitarist for The Vipers is Johnny “Guitar” Ward. A long-time veteran of the Eugene blues scene, he has played with The Party Kings, The Allnighterz, and Li’l Lynne and the Smokin’ Soles. In his review of Good Times Live!, Greg Johnson of the Cascade Blues Association wrote that it was John’s “performance on Claustrophobia Blues that made a believer out of me, with it’s low-down, slow-burn riffs that simply cry out the blues.” John enjoys playing instrumentals from such artists as Albert Collins and The Meters.
BYRON CASE – Guitar
Guitarist and vocalist Byron Case has played with The Party Kings, Nicolette Helm & Queen Bee, and The Heaters. During the 1960s he had several Top 10 hits with his band The Sunrays. He then played with several different R&B bands in the Los Angeles area before moving to Oregon. Byron Case has played with The Party Kings, Nicolette Helm & Queen Bee, and The Heaters. Byron started on bass with The Vipers but in recent years has switched to guitar. Byron sings from a repertoire ranging from Big Joe Turner and Pee Wee Crayton to The Coasters and Little Richard.
RUSS WHITLACH – Bass
Bass player Russ Whitlach is the newest addition to The Vipers but is no newcomer to the Eugene music scene having played with Rose de Lima, RMS McConnell, Xstatic, and Midnight Rodeo amomg many bands. Russ’s inspirations on bass have been Rocco Prestia from Tower hof Power and David Schallock from Sons o Champlin
RICK MARKSTROM – Drums
Rounding out The Vipers’ rhythm section is the steady beat of drummer and vocalist Rick Markstrom. Rick toured the Midwest with his band The Tayles before moving to Oregon in 1976. Since then he has established himself as one of Eugene’s premier drummers and has played with The Soulsations, The Revelators, and Nicolette Helm & Queen Bee. Rick’s vocal repertoire includes tunes by Albert King and Wilson Pickett, as well as his own compositions.