The Judy Chops are an indomitable force in the VA music scene, rocking audiences with original tunes, remixed covers, and mash ups since 2008. Averaging over 150 shows a year, the Chops are a high-energy 7 piece Americana group who delight in wowing audiences throughout the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. Their many festival appearances and shows have included opening for acts like Lake Street Dive, The Black Lillies, Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, David Mayfield Parade, J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices, and Igor & Red Elvises have proven the Chops to be consummate performers.
The band’s sound is built around strong three part harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, baritone banjo ukulele, searing electric guitar and a unique rhythm section featuring upright bass, cocktail drums, and a dynamic horn section with occasional fiddle to round out the mix. Stylistically, the band blends elements of swing, blues, rock-a-billy, classic country and western, and soul with a modern flair, for a unique, genre-defying musical experience. The Chops have previous recorded two albums, Modern Vintage Vol. 1 in 2008 and Give Her the Gun in 2010. In 2013, The Judy Chops were voted “Best Local Roots Band” at the inaugural Red Wing Roots Music festival in Mt. Solon, VA, bringing home 20 hours of studio time at Blue Sprocket Sound in Harrisonburg VA, and a microphone package from Peluso Microphone Labs. These prizes enabled them to record their most ambitious album to date, Minor Sunshine in 2014. Their latest release ‘Bad Like Me’ was released in 2016.
William Howard – Electric Lead Guitar, Vocals
Learning guitar from his grandmother in his teens, Bill has been an active member in the central VA arts and music scene for years. Most notably he has been involved with ShenanArts, Oak Grove Theater, and as a member of bands including Jeremiah Prophett Band, Heart Gets Monkey, and The Bourbon Specials. Bill has penned many of the band’s original tunes including “I’d Rather Be Drinking Whiskey,” Bad Like Me,” and “Control.”
Molly Murphy – Guitar, Vocals
Molly’s love of music came at an early age singing with her mother and sister. As a member of The Bourbon Specials Molly began learning guitar, and has since become a fabulous rhythm player. Molly’s solid musicianship and dedication have been the background for the band’s solid arrangements. Molly and Bill have co-penned ‘I Will Never Leave,’ ‘Devil Whiskey,’ and ‘Ball & Chain.’ Molly lives in Staunton, VA with her husband Patrick, and operates her own businesses ‘Queen City Music Studios’ and ‘Earrings by Molly.’
Sally Murphy – Baritone Banjoe Ukulele, Vocals
Banjolele, vocals- Sally and Molly began singing with their mother at an early age, but Sally flourished as a musician playing in the Charlottesville groups The Bourbon Specials, and The Dowhatnows. Sally’s original, moody writing style and love of classic western swing has been a catalyst for the band’s swingy sound, with originals like ‘Home,’ ‘Queen of Spades,” and ‘Worst Case Scenario.’ Sally lives in Staunton, VA, and is pursuing a license in cosmetology.
Jess Bergh – Cocktail Drums, Percussion
Jess began playing percussion in her middle school Orff ensemble, and translated her solid rhythm skills into conga drums, and djembe as a member of Heart Gets Monkey. Her love affair with the Cocktail Drums began in 2008 when The Judy Chops formed, and she provides the solid heartbeat of the band’s unique rhythm section with her singular style. Jess lives in Churchville, VA with her daughter, Violet.
Jims Hinkle – Upright Bass
Jims began playing in The Judy Chops in 2012 after being a frequent stand-in for the group for the past few years. As a staple of the Staunton music scene, Jims has played with Secret Ninja Death Squad, Hound Dog Hill Boys, and Lost Indian. Jims lends his talents to the album ‘Minor Sunshine.’
Mike Pressel – Trumpet
Mike began playing in The Judy Chops in 2015 after meeting the band at the annual Harrisonburg music festival Spaghettifest. After sitting in for a few shows, Mike quickly became a full-time member due to his sizzling trumpet sound, and deft horn arrangements. When he’s not playing with the Chops Mike can be found playing with any number of amazing bands including The Dawn Drapes, Illiterate Light, and Midnight Spaghetti & the Chocolate G-Strings. Mike appears on 2016’s Bad Like Me recording.
Rachel Smith – Baritone Saxophone
Rachel joined the group in late 2015. As a graduate of JMU she played in several ensembles with Mike Pressel, and when the need arose for a second horn player to round out the mix, Rachel was a natural choice. Her musicality, tone, and demeanor have been a boon for the group, and her tight baritone sax sound has redefined the group’s sound.’ Rachel appears on 2016’s Bad Like Me recording.
Anna Matijasic-Hennessy – Violin
Anna began playing with The Judy Chops in 2010 when she came in to record tracks for ‘Give Her The Gun.’ She became well known in Charlottesville as member of Jim Waive and The Young Divorcees, and has been a private music teacher for years. A recent JMU grad, Anna lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband Dave, and daughter NoraLuca. Anna currently plays part-time with the group, and records on all of their projects.
Richard Adams – Trumpet, Saxophone(s), Trombone, Euphonium
Richard is a frequent contributor to The Judy Chops sound, and recordings. He did all of the horn arrangements for the album ‘Minor Sunshine.’ As a consummate player, and music teacher, Richard writes, hosts, and performs in the River City Radio Hour, the Richard Adams Variety Show, and is a member of the band The Boogie Kings.