Current Lineup

Jarryd Audette

bass, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals

Chris Horton

drums, keyboards, percussion, vocals

Jim McHugh

percussion, drums, vocals

Doug Phelps

electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, bass, vocals

Mike Shannon

Keyboard, Vocals, Guitar

Former Members

Bill Barnier

bass guitar and vocals

Mike Baslow

electric & acoustic guitars, harmonica, vocals

Ed Fanning

acoustic guitar, vocals

Andy Phypers

harmonica, vocals, effects

Bill Phypers

electric and acoustic guitars, vocals

Sam Russo

bass, electric guitar, vocals

Don Scotti

acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals

Mike Willey


Dave Wright

electric guitar

Guest Musicians

Bernie Duncan: vocals

Steve Sylvester: percussion

Sam Davis: piano

Steve Horton: vocals

Tracey Phelps: vocals

Hannah Haupt: vocals

Olivia Graffeo-Cohen: vocals

Adlai Graffeo-Cohen:  pots and pans percussion

Emily Davis: vocals

Matt Shahan: pedal steel guitar

Liz Waller: vocals

Francis Furtek: guitar and vocals

Russell Baslow: keyboards

Julie Tiller: vocals

Marty Baslow: vocals

Norma Thomas: vocals

Tim Cannon: guitar

Jamie Masefield: mandolin and vocals

Iven Goldstein: dobro

Lee Gillies: saxophone

Peter Miller: violin

Jenny Red: vocals

Scott Dean: percussion

Lynne Miller : vocals

Dean Phypers : vocals

Kathy Durett: vocals

Mark Kuprych: vocals

Steve Abell: vocals

Matt Wright: vocals

Tom Morse: trumpet and flugelhorn


Band Biography

“Who is Johnny?” is the most frequent question we get about the band. The answer to that question is, frankly, all of us: our alter-egos, our dreams, fears, and embarrassments. Johnny can be autobiographical or a character who does things none of us could do or would want to do. Johnny’s kind of a human train wreck. But what a ride he has had!

Johnny was born in March 2003, the child of The Thursday Night Jam Band which was formed the previous year. Founding members are Doug Phelps (guitar and vocals), Chris Horton (drums, keyboards, and vocals), Bill Barnier (bass and vocals) and Mike Baslow (guitar and vocals). The band’s transformation from the TNJB happened, unofficially, when Chris joined the band as a vocalist and, then, took over the role of drummer. Thursday night was band night, each week, and songs written by all four members were honed and recorded at Doug’s house in Essex Junction, Vermont.

Except for a half dozen party performances, the band does not perform live music. It is a recording band whose main goal is to provide a creative outlet for the members’ original music ideas. Few rules. Lots of creative freedom. Lots of wild and crazy music.

By Labor Day, 2003, the band had released its first CD of original music, “Let it Ring.” The band then decided that it needed a name. Doug had suggested The Clam Diggers, which term that refers to making a musical mistake — also known as a “clam.”  Mike observed that football great Johnny Unitas recently had died and joked that we should name the band Johnny Tinnitus – referring to an ear-ringing affliction from which he suffered. Thus, in the true spirit of collaboration that would come to define the band, Johnny Tinnitus and the Clam Diggers was christened.

By the release of “Let It Ring,” the band moved rehearsals to Mike’s house in Underhill, Vermont. The band would record its follow-up albums “Weather or Not” in 2004 and “Men on Pause” in 2005 from Mike’s garage deep in the woods on Gert’s Knob. Thursday nights would bring much new music and partying with the help of the band’s home-made spirit, “Sneaky Pete.” “Weather” was intended to be a theme album, with all songs referring to some form of weather event. The plan worked fine until Mike contributed “Momma Was a Rodeo Clown,” at which point the “Or Not” reference was added to the album title.

In the process of recording “Men on Pause,” the band grew. Guitarist and vocalist Ed Fanning joined the band as did harmonica player Andy Phypers. Ed contributed two original songs to the album. It was in the summer of 2005, during the “Men on Pause” recording sessions, that the band jokingly rehearsed Christmas carols in hard rock fashion. The idea took off and, by Christmas 2005, the band released both “Men on Pause” and “A Christmas Clambake.” The Christmas album contained five holiday classics in true JT form, including a twist on the Johnny Marks’ song “We Are Santa’s Elves” (from the animated special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) that was adapted into “We Are Pissed Off Elves.” The album cover features Chris as Santa proudly digging up clams in Mallets Bay on Lake Champlain. Warning: Do not eat lake clams. You might contract tinnitus.

During 2006, the band worked on its fifth album, “Chowder by The Hour.” The band’s recording location moved from Mike’s house to Andy’s house, then to Ed’s work location in the offices of Carlson Mechanical in Williston, Vermont. The title refers to the hour-long album length of “clammy” music, producing “an hour of chowder.” Check out Doug’s bluegrass masterpiece “Snow Falls,” which features Doug and Jamie Masefield on mandolins. “Chowder” marked a turning point in the band’s production and remains a band favorite, today.

In 2007, the band followed up “Chowder” with the sister-album “Coming Home.” It, too, ran long on time and featured contributions by all of the band members. Notable on this album is the fine violin work by guest musician Peter Miller.

By 2008, the band had settled into an “album per year” recording schedule of writing, rehearsing, recording basic tracks, recording overdubs, mixing, and mastering. Rinse and repeat. Wanting to change things up for their next album, the boys opted to record an “unplugged” album. No electronic instruments were used while recording “Unclammed” except electric bass guitar and a couple synth patches used by Chris to emulate a vibraphone. The goal of the album was to feature the acoustic guitar work of Mike, Ed, and Doug. Ironically, before the album was completed, Ed would leave the band. Replacing him was Don Scotti, playing guitar and percussion as well as singing and penning his first song for the band. Don had first appeared as a guest musician playing percussion on “Let it Ring,” five years earlier.

Through the end of 2008 and into 2009, the band worked on the album “Punks.” Mike’s final recording with the band is the album’s closing ballad “Lucky Man.” Also sadly ironic, Mike would die from early on-set dementia not long after leaving the band. The band then would leave the space at Carlson Mechanical for an office suite up the road, rented by Chris’ company.

“Studio 206” would be the site for the production of the 2010 release of “Johnny Tinnitus & the 7 Clam Diggers.” “Seven,” as it became known, actually is the band’s ninth album. The band was, now, comprised of original members Chris, Doug, Bill, as well as Andy and Don and new members Sam Russo (guitar, bass, and vocals) and Dave Wright on guitar. Now seven members strong, the band would find the production time of an album stretch to every year and a half.

Throughout the remainder of 2010 and most of 2011, the band recorded, in Studio 206, its tenth album, “Omission Impossible.” Doug had moved from Vermont to New Hampshire and the band moved to a monthly recording schedule, rather than weekly.  Bill Barnier took a leave of absence and was replaced by bassist Mike Willey, who left the band by the end of the album’s recording sessions.  In 2011, with production still underway, the band again changed recording locations to Don’s house. The band had worn out its welcome there by 2012 and the release of “Omission.” We joked that the album should have been titled “Completion Impossible.” But with the last overdubs done at Chris’ house, the album was finally completed.

In 2012, Studio H was reborn in Chris’ basement. The band would record the remainder of its catalog, here. It remains the band’s recording location as this bio is written. In 2012, the band experienced the departures of Dave Wright and Don Scotti. Now only five members strong, Chris, Doug, Bill, Andy, and Sam would record the album “Eleven” in 2015. While recording “Eleven,” founding member Bill Barnier officially left the band. In 2016, with Sam taking over all bass duties, the band released “Twelve.”

Wanting to change up the recording process of the previous albums, the band tried a new approach. For 13 months, dozens of jams (and ONLY jams) were recorded. From September 2016 to October 2017, song ideas were compiled that covered over six hours of recorded music. From this wealth of ideas, the album “Thirteen Third Thursdays,” the band’s thirteenth album, was recorded and released in 2018. The album’s name was a reference to the fact that recording sessions always occurred on the third Thursday of each month. The album introduces new band members Bill Phypers (Andy’s younger brother) on guitar and percussionist/vocalist Jim McHugh, a longtime friend and follower of the band who had first played percussion on “Unclammed,” ten years earlier.

In April 2018, after the release of “Thirteen,” Doug proposed the idea of recording a long “epic” piece of music. Instead of working out an arrangement from beginning to end in one recording session, the band would string a series of recording sessions together as one continuous song. Before long, the epic song had grown to the size of a full-fledged rock opera. At close to an hour long, this “song” became a behemoth undertaking. With the music recorded, the band then set out to tell the fictional story of Johnny and Jenny Tinnitus, whose break-up has left Johnny to his own devices. Johnny’s poor life choices lead him to tragedy. When will Johnny ever learn? Doug, Chris, and Jim set about to write the lyrics and vocal tracks were, then, laid down.

While work continued on the writing and singing of the fourteenth album “The Mid-life and Times of Johnny Tinnitus,” Sam departed after ten years in the band. While Doug filled in, temporarily, on bass, the band added Jarryd Audette on bass, guitar, and vocals. Don Scotti returned to contribute a couple of his original pieces — once a Digger, always a Digger. The band began work on album #15 and, then, #16. New blood, new energy and we suddenly had three albums underway, simultaneously. We welcomed 2020, ready to release a rock opera and a double album! Then, Covid 19 hit.

During the pandemic of 2020 and early 2021, group recording sessions were not possible. But work continued, nonetheless. Albums 15 and 16 were combined into the double “Off-White Album,” released in November of 2020. Many of the tracks for the “Off-White Album” were recorded in isolation and compiled, remotely. The album also features a block of “Songs from the Quarantine.”

The end of 2020 witnessed the departure of Andy and the addition of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mike Shannon. Mike immediately contributed several songs to the 17th album entitled “Stems.” Much recording occurred (both together and remotely) for “Stems” during 2021. Meanwhile, after numerous remote sessions with many guest vocalists, “The Mid-Life & Times of Johnny Tinnitus” was finally completed as well (after more than three years in the making) in September of 2021.

Also in 2021, Mike produced a trio of JT music videos telling the story of “The Grump”, a curmudgeon who is thoroughly annoyed by neighborhood children. After telling the kids to “Get off My Lawn,” he insists that they will get “No Candy” for Halloween and “No Presents” for Christmas. Can anything melt the Grump’s icy heart? Chris and Bill are featured actors in the video series as well as Mike’s kids and Chris’ grandkids.

In 2022, the band completed tracks for the sister album to “Stems” and, so, “Seeds” was released in July. Most of 2022 also was spent recording a follow-up to the 2005 Christmas mini album, “Christmas Clambake” and, 17 years later, “Dancing with Santa” was released in time for Christmas season. This full-length album is a mix of classic Christmas songs and JT original holiday tracks. It is destined to be a classic.

The 19th and 20th albums are under production. Video production is underway for the “The Unsolved Mystery of Bur Man,” a short movie (long video) about the story of the tragically cursed hero who is covered in burs as portrayed by Chris. The soundtrack album will be released in advance of the video. The band’s 20th album is due for release in 2024 as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. A rare JT concert is planned for the summer of 2023. Clamapalooza (aka Clam-uh-pa-loser) will surely be a day to remember!

And so it goes, the never-ending saga of Johnny Tinnitus and the Clam Diggers. We hope you enjoy the hundreds of songs and hours of music we have put together during the last eighteen years. We also hope you will enjoy the music to come!

Chris, Doug, Jarryd, Jim, and Mike