Mapleshade

YUCCA FLATS

LARRY SANSONE
lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, songwriter/lyricist

Born in Huntington, New York in 1972, Larry started writing his first songs at eight. At eleven, having fallen in love with drumming, he started studying percussion. That eventually led him to playing in his high school jazz band. More significantly, in high school he began singing; soon he was working regularly with young rock groups in the area.

After graduating, Larry entered the music conservatory at SUNY Purchase, focusing on composition. While at SUNY, he taught himself guitar and started taking his first gigs as singer-songwriter-guitarist.

In 1994, shortly after graduating college, Larry started down the road that led to Yucca Flats. His first step was forming a duo with a bass player from SUNY (Scott Thornton's predecessor). Eric Helmuth, then still at SUNY, heard Larry's duo and sat in on drums; the fit turned out to be perfect. A year or so later, the trio went to record at D.K. Studios in Manhattan. Their engineer happened to be Rich Wilkins. He immediately wanted to play with them. The session worked like gangbusters and Yucca Flats was born.

Besides singing and songwriting for Yucca Flats, Larry composes for theater and dance. He wrote the songs and music for a children's musical, "Underwater Troubles"; he composed and co-authored an adult musical, "Belly of the Dragon", which premiered in Massachussetts. In his spare time, Larry is also a novelist, playwright, poet and animator.

RICH WILKINS
lead acoustic, electric and classical guitar, vocals

Rich, born in 1969, grew up in Jersey City and the Bronx listening first to Irish music and Elvis, then classic rock, big band, doo wop and old-style country. At twelve, his guitar career started with banjo lessons—mostly because a banjo was available. At fourteen, he bought his own guitar after hearing Ozzy Osbourne's Diary Of A Madman.

Soon he was taking lessons in Spanish and classical guitar—but his heart was in rockabilly and heavy metal.  At seventeen, Rich joined a New York metal band, Krysis, and played with them for nine years. At the same time, he was becoming interested in recording. Rich took his first recording job at 19, then went on to study recording engineering. That's how, at 28, he met Larry and Yucca Flats. They were recording with Rich and he decided he wanted to play on the session with them. Rich has been Yucca Flat's lead guitarist ever since.

In addition to performing with Yucca Flats and recording, Rich composes for major television and radio shows and various commercials. His playing can also be heard on samples used in "Micro-Jammer" toy guitars. As audio engineer, Rich has recorded such distinguished musicians as Stanley Jordan, Warren Hayes, Bob Belden, Junior Mance, the Marie Schneider Orchestra and the Ron Affif Trio.

SCOTT THORNTON
bass, trumpet, vocals

Born in 1966, Scott grew up with his intensely musical family in Dickinson, North Dakota. His father was a band director; all five of his siblings are musicans. In fifth grade Scott started playing trumpet; the next year he switched to French horn. He listened to jazz, classical and groups like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Steely Dan and Chicago.

As a sophomore in high school, Scott started playing jazz electric bass while continuing his horn studies. That landed him a scholarship in brass performance at the University of Iowa. In his second year, Scott started studying acoustic bass, soon deciding it was the instrument he really wanted to play for the rest of his career. After graduating with a B.S. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota, he went on to a Masters in conducting from the University of Connecticut.

Moving to New York, Scott was soon playing regularly with a variety of jazz groups in venues ranging from the Blue Note to Lincoln Center. He has toured North America, Europe and Russia, playing double bass and electric bass, as well as horn and trumpet. In addition, he does studio work across a wide musical spectrum: jazz, classical, world, blues, rock and pop.

In 1999, Yucca Flats asked him to play a gig for them. By the end of the evening, the band knew Scott was the bass player they'd been looking for; he's been a cornerstone of the group ever since. In his free time, Scott moonlights as a tennis pro in Manhattan.

ERIC HELMUTH
percussion, vocals

Born in 1963 in Iowa, Eric grew up moving from Syracuse to Long Island to Africa and finally settling in Canada through his teens. Although he listened to music voraciously—everything from The Beatles to the Police and Peter Gabriel—he didn't play at all until he was eighteen. That's when, listening to band play at a party, he suddenly had to start playing drums. Astonishingly, two weeks later he was ready to join his first band and played with them for six months.

At 21 Eric returned to the States and entered SUNY Purchase in '92. There he studied production and composition, focusing on avant garde, 20th century and jazz.

In addition to performing with Yucca Flats, Eric is actively engaged in dance, film, theater and live performance. He is an audio engineer, professor at Purchase College and a sound designer for film.

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