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About the Band

Rob Shinno AKA Rob Shinn

Rob has been playing music since the age of seven, and was classically schooled on piano.  Rob was an eager performer who excelled at recitals including performances at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.  Playing in several bands in Michigan, Rob moved to San Diego, California in 1983 to form the bands New Continent and Uncommon Ground with drummer Mike McQuilken.  Rob and Mike produced several albums together, with Rob on vocals, guitar and Mike’s drumming, percussion and sequencing skills. These included 'World One World', 'Structures' and 'Information Age'  Soon after, Rob released his first CD, ‘River of Life’ which was received with good critical acclaim.  ‘River of Life’ received radio air-play and was Gavin chart bound for 10 weeks.  Rob was also nominated for ‘Best New Artist of the Year’ by the San Diego Music awards.  

Rob formed Hemisphere with sax player Don Bowman and released the CD ‘Blue Planet Dreams’ which also garnered critical acclaim and was nominated for ‘Best Album of the Year’ by the San Diego Music awards. ‘Blue’ also featured drummer Bill Ray, and bassist Tony Hill.  Shows to support the album included a headlining performance at 4th&B, the KIFM Smooth Jazz Festival and an appearance and the Newport Beach Jazz Festival.  After the release of ‘Blue’, Rob travelled the world and those influences were heard on the album ‘Destinations’, which also featured keyboardist Max Zape along with Don and Rob.  ‘Destinations’ was featured on BET Jazz soon after its release, followed by many live shows in California.  

Rob considers his style to be a mash-up of electronica, pop, new age, and jazz styles. Rob has also had a very visual component to his shows, with various multi-media productions to augment live music performances.  Currently Rob is working with Mike McQuilken and Don Bowman on new material to be released to coincide with the 30 year anniversary of the ‘Information Age’ which will be reissued on CD in 2020. This will also be supported with live shows of the material. Having graduated with honors from Michigan State with an engineering degree, Rob’s favorite guitarists are Brian May and Pat Metheny.

Don Bowman

Born in San Diego, Don lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Paris by the time he was in his teens.  Don began playing the saxophone during his sophomore year in high school. Already an accomplished player on the flute and piccolo, he pursued the sax eagerly, joining his high school stage band. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, he returned to San Diego and worked for many years in various bands of different styles, from Rock, Jazz, R'n'B, Pop, Be-bop. Don is also an accomplished vocalist, performing with the SD Opera Chorus and various vocal ensembles. Thrilled to join Hemisphere, he contributed his sax and keyboard skills and co-wrote a number of the songs on both "Blue Planet Dreams" and on "Destinations," in which he sings a lead vocal track. Currently living in Northern California, Don continues to gig with local bands and is planning to work with Rob and Mike on the new material and shows planned in 2019-2020 and beyond.

Michael McQuilken

Michael McQuilken was born in San Diego, California. He began studying privately when he was 11 years old. His heroes in his youth were Ginger Baker, Bill Bruford, and Carl Palmer. He performed with all the school bands and orchestras and was a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony.  His private teacher had him begin teaching his beginning students at age 14.  From high school until 1984, he performed with various top-40 bands, blues bands, and jazz combos.  Michael met Rob Shinno in 1984. This partnership created Thurston's Adventure in 1984 with Viki Tama, which evolved into Return to Zero bringing in Jef Kmak. In 1985 Rob and Michael formed Uncommon Ground with Guitarist Ken Oyer and bassist Michael Moore and released Structures. In 1987, Michael met a Senegalese drummer named Ibou M'Baye and studied African music with him.  In 1988 Rob and Michael formed New Continent and released World One World followed by the 1990 release Information Age. In 1991, Michael met Ginger Baker and enjoyed the opportunity of studying with him.  He took some master classes with Terry Bozzio and worked on ostinato interdependence techniques and integrating African music and other music from around the world into drum set arrangements. Michael then met Robert Sherwood (aka bob) and formed Fiction Damage with guitarist George Sanchez. This resulted in the 1995 release Heathen Stuff. In 1996 the band changed its name to Fiction and had TJ Brinjak on guitar.  That same year Michael also formed the straight-ahead jazz ensemble So What with guitarist Doug Reese and bassist Ralph Schatz. In 1998 Fiction released This is Fiction, which experienced the song I Could Cry climbing to #38 on the Adult Contemporary charts. The band fell apart within a year of this success, and Michael returned to playing straight-ahead jazz and was performing weekly in the San Diego Gaslamp district.  He also was studying Indian classical music and tabla with Miles Shrewsbery.  During this time, he reconnected with Rob Shinno and realized how much he had missed producing music with him.  This led to performing with Rob and Don in 2018 and he will be writing, recording, and performing with them in 2019 and beyond.

Grant Clarkson - Bass

Grant Clarkson has been well known for his original composition and his contribution to theatre productions, jazz ensembles, and regional orchestras for the last 20 years, along the way working with such living legends as Daniel Jackson, Geoff Keezer, Sammy Nestico, Gilbert Castellanos, Bob Magnusson, and Tommy Gannon.  Grant was also the live bassist for Hemisphere from 1999 to 2003, and is looking forward to being a part of the new Hemisphere release ‘American Dreams’ due out in 2020.

Grant was well known as an electric bassist before joining the world of acoustic jazz with great conviction. The traditional sound and style of the acoustic upright bass in smaller jazz ensembles is clearly something that Grant enjoys and has an innate affinity for, with unmistakable familiarity with, and affection for, such greats as Ray Brown, John Pattituci, Bob Magnusson, Christian Mcbride, Eddie Gomez, and Marc Johnson.

Max Zape - Keys, Vocals

Born to musical parents, Max Zape is as much a mutt musically as he is ethnic (french-dutch-spanish-caribbean on mom's side, and spanish-sicilian-chinese-filipino on dad's side). 

Since the age of 12, he's been a busy presence in the southern california music scene, doing everything from music retail to sound design and tech support for various musical instrument manufacturers and gigging world wide with great musical friends. 

To his closest friends, he's known as the librarian, with a CD, DVD, and vinyl collection numbering well over 10k, as well as a terabyte of mp3's ripped from his personal collection.

And he spends whatever spare time he has restoring vintage keyboards.  Please don't hate him for owning more keyboards than most humans are allowed.


Jef Kmak - Guitars

Jef Kmak has been playing since his teen years in the late 60’s. He’s played in numerous bands through the years. He spent a year in England recording and playing. A highlight of his stay was opening for the Pretenders at the legendary Marquee Club in London. He met Rob and Michael in the Eighties, and played with Rob on some early “River” shows. He’s excited to reunite with the guys and see what the future holds.