The Wild Oats have been through several transitions since starting in 1990. The band began with Eben Brooks (guitar, vocals, bodhràn, songwriting), Allison Lonsdale (guitar, vocals), Enrique Acosta (percussion, vocals), Fawn Patton (guitar, vocals), and Laurie Flieder (flute). These musicians shared a common interest in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and met at an SCA event in Pomona, CA. This lineup performed together for about two years, then split up.
The group re-formed, retaining Eben Brooks and Allison Lonsdale, who were joined by Perry Dockins (percussion, vocals), Martin Brooks (no relation to Eben; vocals), Rachel Amov (fiddle), and Merisa Bissinger (flute). However, this lineup only performed together for one show, and then disbanded in 1992.
The band re-formed again in late 1993, with the return of Eben Brooks and Allison Lonsdale and the addition of Craig Kozeluh (vocals, bones, doumbek, didjeridu, bodhràn, other percussion, songwriting). Marc Biagi (vocals, woodwinds) joined in early 1994, with Suzie Cavaness (vocals), Katie Weatherup (vocals, doumbek), and Wolf Klauschie (vocals, didjeridu, saz, gusle) all arriving in mid-1995. Klauschie had some ideas about adding his collection of unusual instruments to the band's sound, which drew him into performing.
More changes followed in 1996, when Cavaness left to move to Tahoe. Then Lonsdale departed in 1997, and was replaced by Laura Kate Barrett (vocals, bodhràn, songwriting). By 1999, Marc Biagi also left to take up a career in voice acting. He was replaced briefly by Melissa McConnell (woodwinds); however, she left after starting her own business. Fortunately, the Wild Oats gained Liz Hostetter (vocals, recorders, pennywhistles, flute) in 1999, which brought a woodwind player back to the band.
Brooks' first instrument was a guitar, which he began playing in 1980, but he says he did not become proficient until 1990. He was a pianist from 1983-1991, until a move caused him to lose access to the piano. He had some formal operatic training as a bass and lessons in piano, voice, arrangement, and composition. Still, he feels that, for the most part, he was self-taught. Before the Wild Oats, he was in high school chorus and musical theater, and he was a member of a folk band just after high school. He credits his mother, also a singer, and his first girlfriend with introducing him to Celtic music.
Katie Weatherup began with clarinet, playing it from 1985-1993, but says wryly of herself, "Mercifully, I stopped." A school bandmember from elementary through high school, she added musical theater in high school as well. Though she has taken voice lessons, she too considers herself primarily self-taught. Her interest in Celtic music began in 1994, when friends in college introduced her to the SCA.
Though he had saxophone and accordion lessons as a kid, Craig Kozeluh considers his first instrument to be the guitar. He performed in school band in junior high, and was in both a rock band and musical theater during high school. He went into percussion when he got a drum set in 1992 and added the bones and other kinds of drums in 1994, shortly after joining the band. He is self-taught in all percussion instruments. He became interested in Celtic music as a direct result of joining the Wild Oats.
In contrast to artists whose first instrument was piano or guitar, Wolf Klauschie's first was a saz. He took that up in 1975, added dijeridu in 1991, and has continued adding eclectic instruments since, teaching himself to play them. Klaushie was drawn into Celtic music because Craig Kozeluh is his son, and Klauschie wanted to add some of his unusual instruments to the Wild Oats' sound.
In addition to contributing vocals to the Wild Oats, Laura Kate Barrett is noted as a poet and songwriter, having composed "The Selkie Queen," a ballad that is very popular at science fiction and fantasy conventions.
Liz Hostetter has taken voice lessons, piano, and classical guitar; however, woodwinds are her first and longest-running focus. Like many in the group, interest in the SCA led her to perform with the Wild Oats.
Favorite Oats venues include Twiggs Tea and Coffee in San Diego, CA, and the semi-annual SCA Potrero War in Potrero, CA. They have played at many locations around San Diego, including Lestat's Coffeehouse, Claire de Lune, JavaBar, Garden Café, and Thomas Paine's Coffeehouse, as well as at Comic-Con International.
The band has been awarded the SCA L'honneur de la Chançon and the Royal Recognition of Excellence (both Kingdom of Caid awards). Their music has also been included in the documentary video about the SCA In Service to the Dream. Their song "Mirror" is entered into the Songs Inspired by Literature competition, which is sponsored by the SIBL Project (http://www.siblproject.org).