Crooked Counsel has been on the music scene in Gainesville for many years now. The band, originally formed in 1994 by lead vocalist Shuri Pass, used the name “Santa Fe” for several years, playing various venues in and around Gainesville. Keyboard and second guitarist, John Middleton joined about 10 months after the band originated and put some new pizazz into the repertoire. John also sings back up and a few lead vocals.
Santa Fe played out for another year or so when personnel difficulties brought them to a halt for about six months. During this time, drummer Tim Sellers joined the band. Santa Fe played a mixture of rock, blues and country music. The influence of the new drummer, Tim Sellers, brought about the removal of the country tunes and created a new focus on solid classic rock and roll. When it began to appear that Santa Fe was being overlooked by certain venues due to the more country sound of the name, it was decided a new name would be needed to further their pursuits. The name Crooked Counsel was chosen – John Middleton is a practicing attorney in Melrose, FL and Tim Sellers was, at that time, a substance abuse counselor – the obvious basis for the new name. Tim passed away in 2016 and will always be missed by his friends in Crooked Counsel.
The band’s current drummer is Donnie Ray Henley. He has played all over the US and has been one of the most sought after musicians in the studio and on the stage for many years. Donnie's exposure to all styles of music has given him the ability to adapt to the many musical styles the band plays.Initially Crooked Counsel used two local bassists – Joe Loper and Fritz Knaggs who alternated gigs, but eventually Joe Loper became the official bassist for the band. After over sixteen years, Joe has retired to hand-build his beautiful guitars. Yomi Olatunde was the bassist for a number of years. Now Kenny is the bassist. Kenny recently moved to Gainesville. He has been playing bass since he was 15 years old and has played in a variety of bands both here and abroad. His wide ranging musical interests include Mongolian Throat Singing and Ethiopian jazz.
Crooked Counsel has had several excellent lead guitarists over the years, starting out with Randy Walker of Gainesville, Carl Haskins, Pat Davis and Jesse Smith, also from the area. Our current lead player is Rick Hutton, of Gainesville, who also sings lead and back-up vocals. He is a dedicated and tasteful guitarist – a truly talented performer.
Shuri, the lead vocalist and front person for the band, resides in Keystone Heights. She sings everything from Adele to Zepplin and folks just cannot seem to help comparing her to Janis Joplin, something Shuri considers the ultimate compliment. She also plays acoustic guitar and you can sometimes find her performing solo at local restaurants.
Crooked Counsel is an energetic classic rock cover band with a large and diverse repertoire and a capacity to please any audience.