In just a few brief years, Strange Arrangement has routinely filled larger venues throughout the Midwest as their ever evolving sound steadily gains more and more notoriety. Drawing on influences from the likes of Phish, Herbie Hancock, Umphrey’s McGee, and Wilco, Strange Arrangement takes audiences through several different musical genres touching upon jazz, funk, rockabilly, soul, and progressive and psychedelic rock. Opening for national touring acts such as Future Rock, Outformation, The New Mastersounds, and Umphrey’s McGee – as well as performing at large festivals like Summercamp, Hoxeyville, Bear Creek and North Coast Music Festival, Strange Arrangement’s original brand of dance friendly progressive funk has music fans taking notice. The relationship Strange Arrangement shares with its ever growing audience is based around the idea of creating a moment in time where one can laugh, dance, sing, and connect with the band and its music.

The origins of Strange Arrangement can be traced back to 1996, when a friendship formed between keyboardist Joe Hettinga and drummer Bob Parlier when they were students in the music department at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, IL. This original grouping also included Arie Buer on guitar and Mitch Manz on harmonica and percussion. The lineup would later become somewhat solidified when Kevin Barry, from neighboring High School Hinsdale Central, would join the band to play bass guitar. Through mutual friends, Jim Conry would eventually meet and join the band in 1998. Arie Buer and Manz would later leave the band in the Spring of 1998, and by the time Hettinga and Barry had graduated from High School in June of 1998 the Strange Arrangement combination of Conry, Barry, Hettinga, and Parlier was born.

From 1998 to 2000, the entire band attended the School for Music Vocation in Creston, IA, an improvisational jazz theory and composition school founded by Grammy Award Nominated Arranger Phil Mattson. Their education kept them busy traveling with different jazz ensembles, playing prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City.

While learning the fundamentals of jazz performance, their education left little time for Strange Arrangement, with the exception of the occasional house party. In 2000, members of Strange Arrangement would go their separate ways. Barry, Parlier, and Conry moved to Boulder, Colorado to pursue various professional musician jobs. Hettinga attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI to get his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music.

The band would not officially reunite for gigs until late 2006 when all four members found themselves back in Chicago for the first time since 2000. Hettinga and Conry shared an apartment in the Bucktown neighborhood where most of the debut full length album “Side x Side” was conceived and written. The album would later be recorded at Deer Tick Manor, in Michigan City, IN and mixed by Larry Millas at World Stage Studio, owned by Jim Peterik (former member of the band Survivor and cowriter of “Eye of the Tiger”), the self released “Side x Side” would come out in the winter of 2008. The record release would find Strange Arrangement touring exclusively in the Midwest for the next few years, playing mostly small bars in Chicago and college towns in the Midwest.

Strange Arrangement saw its crowds growing. By the end of the summer 2009, they were opening for national touring acts Umphrey’s McGee and Outformation, while playing bigger clubs in the same cities they had been frequenting over the last couple years. In 2010, Strange Arrangement was playing rooms like the House of Blues in Chicago, The Canopy Club in Champaign, IL, The Lafayette Theater in Lafayette, IN and several large festivals like Summercamp Music Festival, Hoxeyville, and North Coast Music Festival.

In October 2010, original member and drummer Bob Parlier decided to leave Strange Arrangement to pursue his formal education in percussion. While very sad to see Bob go, Strange Arrangement pressed on. In November 2010, Steve Sinde joined the band as the new drummer. Sinde grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and was a member of Chicago late-night, jamband regular Tula. In the spring of 2011, Sinde graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Percussion Performance.

In January 2011, Strange Arrangement release its second full length album titled “Polygraph.” The album was recorded and mixed at IV Labs Studios in Chicago by Manny Sanchez, whose production credits include working with Umphrey’s McGee, Smashing Pumpkins and North Mississippi All Stars. The album marked a new chapter in the band, representing what the band had accomplished both professionally and personally since their release of “Side x Side.”

An extensive tour in support of “Polygraph” found Strange Arrangement playing more gigs in the midwest and beyond. Strange Arrangement brought their energetic shows to the eastern seaboard for the first time, playing The Big Up Festival in upstate New York followed by a show at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT.

In the fall of 2011, Strange Arrangement played four dates on the west coast, with shows in Las Vegas, San Diego, Hollywood and San Francisco. These shows had Strange Arrangement opening for Digital Tape Machine, a Chicago jamband super group featuring Strange’s very own Joe and Kevin (alongside Joel Cummins and Kris of Umphrey’s McGee, Dan Rucinski of Land of Atlantis, Marcus Rezak of The Hue, and DJ My Boy Elroy). In late fall, Strange brought their heat as far south as Florida, playing a raging set at Beer Creek Music Festival. With nearly 100 shows under their belt in 2011, Strange wrapped up a successful year with 2-night New Years’ run at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI.

With a successful year of touring and a well received new album under its belt, Strange was proud to be named Home Grown Music Network’s “Artist of the Year” for 2011. Without hestitation, Strange Arrangement has been back on the road throughout 2012 with multiple dates throughout the Midwest. In late January, Strange co-headlined with Greensky Bluegrass at the Park West, their biggest Chicago venue to date. Strange is excited to have multiple dates lined up in Colorado – their third tour of the Rockies in the last year. Strange is also excited to be making their 3rd appearance in a row at Summercamp Music Festival, along with appearances at Bear Creek Music Festival and Hoxeyville.

Need more Strange? Strange Arrangement is more excited then ever to be hosting it’s very own inaugural summer festival, Stranger Danger, at the Abbey Pub in Chicago in late June. Are you a “Stranger?” If you’re not already, make sure you’re along for the ride in 2012.

*Image and bio courtesy of

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