These two share a page because they share just about everything else, from their life together in the desert, to their work with children’s arts and music programs, to the stage with There Be Pirates!, and their own group, Reallyshooo.
Billy and Ellen’s first gigs together were in New York City at Max's Kansas City just after Billy's band
N.Y.L.O.N. opened for the B-52's at Max's; Central Park Bandshell(sharing the stage with the likes of Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul & Mary as we all voiced against nuclear proliferation); and the first ever rock fest at Irving Plaza.
The two ventured out to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland for two seasons, played private parties in Paris, worked the rock & cabaret circuit in NYC and in LA, hosted open mics in Silver Lake and were regulars on the final season of the original Gong Show. They have performed at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and have entertained kids and their parents in upstate NY (Council for the Arts), the St.Jude’s Children's hospital in Memphis, Jemez Springs New Mexico (for reservation families), The River in Rancho Mirage for The Children's Discovery Museum, the Redondo Beach Zydeco/Cajun Hurricane Katrina benefit and The Palm Springs World Peace Day Fest(co-producers).
They have been a fixture in the hi-desert/Joshua Tree music scene for years having performed regularly at The Beatnik, The Water Canyon, the Hi-Desert Playhouse, and Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, as well as numerous festivals and benefits: Gram Fest, Rockin' for Joshua Tree, Pioneer Days, Grubstakes, Chuckwalla(co-producers), GreenFest - The Joshua Tree Music Festival kidsville stage for six festivals.
Ellen had just returned from performing English-speaking theatre in Paris and was studying acting with Herbert Berghof( where she was awarded the Elenora Duse Award), performing off Broadway and singing jazz in the shower when she met Billy.
She was singing “Freddy My Love” getting ready to audition for Broadway's open call for Grease, practicing in Billy’s loft with his band mate and it was love at first sight.
Billy has been recording, writing and singing since he was a teen. His first recording was at RCA Studios in New York City. Since then, he has written numerous soundtracks, teaches music, has played with every style of band.
Billy is a consummate visual artist as well, having worked in the film business art departments for years. He paints murals, has designed sets, is a comic book artist and an all around regular guy.
Ellen & Billy both work with at-risk kids through the Tools for Tomorrow after-school arts program in Desert Hot Springs where Ellen is a yoga facilitator. They have both worked for the Boys & Girls Club and hope to continue being of service in what ever capacity they can whether it be with seniors, at-risk kids, and socially injured people. No matter how doubtful and bleak things can appear to be in this world, the two continue to strive for world peace and human fairness.
In There Be Pirates!, Billy serves as music director. His extensive lifelong experience in writing and arranging music make him an invaluable asset to the crew. Billy engineers recordings, plays keyboards, accordions, bass, percussion, Native American flute, and many more instruments, as well as sings. Many There Be Pirates!’ originals have come about largely from collaborations between Billy Bones and Shanghai Brown (but everyone in the group influences the creative outcome).
Bosun Ellen serves as co-lead vocalist with Shanghai Brown, adding mini-steel pan, frattoir, percussion, and flute to the mix, along with her distinctive sultry vocals and theatrics.
The Zydeco greats - Boozoo Chavis, Beau Jocque, Terrence Simien, Keith Frank, The Mighty Sparrow -Ska, Souka, Cape Town sound, Country Swing - Asleep at The Wheel, Bob Wills, Appalachian songs, The Country duo greats - Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner, Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, George Jones & Tammy Wynette. Musical loves of our lives - KID CREOLE & THE COCONUTS, PAPA'S CULTURE, BRAVE COMBO, TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS, the kids in THE LITTLE RASCALS, DEVO and BRECHT.
Ellen Shooo's favs are the great ladies of JAZZ & film - HER MAJESTY-BETTY CARTER, Ella, Sarah, Ella Mae Morse, Virginnia Mayo, Anita O'Day, the singer/song writers of the 60's & 70's - Laura Nyro, the GREAT Linda Lewis, Arthur Lee & LOVE, Bonnie Raitt.
The good and not the bad musical songs - BYE BYE BIRDIE, FINNIAN'S RAINBOW, CAROUSEL. The 60's girls groups, just say yes to Phil Spector. The Saxophone wizards - Charles Lloyd, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan. Can't leave out the southen gal greats - Irma Thomas, Tracy Nelson, the gals from Antones in Austin, TX.
Billy loves - In the beginning - Polkas and Hillbilly songs on the car radio from my trips to see relatives in the Coal district of Pennsylvania, Russian singing in church and the Red Army Chorus. Mahler. Peter, Paul & Mary, Yardbirds, Kinks, B.Dylan, Paul Butterfield, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Doors, Mothers, Bach big time, the other big B's, The Russian big 5, Keyboardists besides classical- Groove Holms, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Keith Emerson. All the Cajun and Zydeco accordionsists I have heard. Klezmer! These are just some of who we love and we thank you for all the knowledge and inspiration.