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Latest News

New Year! Let’s make it the best! 

Life is short so I’m finding ways to carve out time to do what I enjoy the most. I’m focusing my efforts on a band I joined. Female fronted, 4 part harmonies, time spent rehearsing and booked already at many fun venues. I’ve scaled back on open mics and solo shows and will continue to work on writing in my spare time. Our band plays a fun dance mix of Country, Classic Rock and Disco! 

Not going to Fall through the cracks  

Change of season sometimes bring changes . You are never too old to start and learn  something new. My day time job has had some restructuring and I am grateful to have been kept on , as I was a few years ago . So much of what I have done with coding medical records has been outsourced. I am now learning a new auditing process and although it seemed daunting I am loving it so far. 
I have enjoyed playing with a band this last year and a half but it is time for a new transition in music as well. Not sure whether it will be a new band, new special projects  or duo collaborations or spending more time writing and recording but I am optimistic . 
Here is a list of criteria that I think a band should possess. I’m sure you’ll think of more but it’s a start-

-Regular rehearsals- at least until any new members are up and running. Not just an occasional meeting to slap together a few new songs. Each member should come prepared but in order to sound tight  the band needs to play together frequently, whether in shows or rehearsals.

-Commitment- the ability to be flexible  with one’s personal preferences and social life . It’s a balance between work, family and activities and sometimes sacrifices need to be made. 
-Boundaries- 7 am phone calls to complain about other members should be avoided. Sending messages containing political or sexual memes are not welcome either. Don’t question one’s commitment when they are involved in other projects. Band members should have good chemistry and enjoy playing together. 

-Honesty- if you don’t like the way someone sounds give specific critiques and avoid discussing with other members behind that person’s back.

-Song selection, choose material appropriate for the band’s concept and the musician’s style. No need to beat to death a poor song when it can be replaced by many others. It’s not just about changing keys. Also it is best when other band members can add background vocals and harmonies.

-Dress code- Dress for the occasion. Poorly fitting gym shorts are almost always a no. Clean up after yourself on stage, avoid spilling drinks and leaving empty cups  and water bottles , broken strings all over the place. Your mama doesn’t work here.

-Compensation- be upfront and clear how the money will be divided including tips. If money is needed for equipment, marketing and travel be open.

-Booking - be willing to network with venues and musicians. Communicate with appropriate grammar and spelling and respect booking agents and club managers People talk. 

-Sound- I shouldn’t have to say this. Know your equipment, how to dial in everyone or pay a sound engineer to do it.




Spring cleaning! 

Time to update things a bit. I’ve added some current events and will add more photos/videos soon. It’s been a crazy winter helping my wingman Zeppelin (silver lab) recover from bilateral TPLO surgery. Meanwhile I’m still holding down the full time RN position, hosting 3 different open mics , performing solo shows and rehearsing with a full time band . We have our first local show this Saturday 4/15 and I’m so excited for that. We played the IL State Fair last summer, was a thrill to play for a crowd like that and could hear Sammy Hagar and Anne Wilson doing sound checks while we were setting up. Please check out the video section for my interview and songs for a local TV station. More later….

New Year, great times ahead 

Just a little update.With the temporary pause in live music due to COVID I have spent that time writing and learning some recording basics. Always an adventure and never too old to learn some new tricks. I still enjoy playing local places, mostly  solo or with one of my amazing percussionist friends. Music has been a lifesaver during these stressful times. I appreciate every business who has let me bring my music and every friend who has stopped by to listen! Hope to see you soon at a show.

Strange Times 

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. When everything closed down back in March my first reaction was the inability to take a deep breath. My music was keeping me busy between the shows, hosting an open mic, rehearsals and writing and I loved every minute of it. To have it come to a complete stop was mind blowing. Then came the personal loss , the loss of some friends , family and neighbors , some related to a Covid, some not. I continued to work at home as I have for 6 years , managed to write 6 more songs and discovered live streaming as a way to still perform to friends and family. I never wasted a minute of time and have worked on the creative side of things to improve both vocally and instrumentality. Eventually as things have opened up I’ve been able to perform a few shows and look forward to the future and what opportunities and collaborations that might bring. Stay safe and healthy!

Happy New Year! 

Reflecting on this past year and what a thrill it has been to play many new venues and meet additional performers. I’m looking forward to what the New Year will bring. Our female band,Higher Ground went from learning 3 songs for an open mic to playing 3 hour shows with bookings in new locations Into 2020. I’m very proud of the work and growth we have all experienced! I have joined another female fronted band as well, more to come later on that as we are still auditioning members. I have shows booked with my duo partner Eddie Bartley, always a fun time when we play together. In my downtime I plan to focus on instrumentation, I’m currently working with guitar, Ukulele, dulcimer and have added mandolin and piano to the  list. Also in the works is getting some of my original songs recorded.

If that is not enough to keep me busy I’ve been cohosting a weekly open mic. Open mics will always have a place in my heart as that is where I got my inspiration and mentoring. People joke and have called me the open mic queen or open mic whore, lol, and I take no offense:). It is in that setting where you can network with other players, learn by example and perfect new material. I was especially inspired by the setting in Nashville, where the standards are high and the environment includes a listening room or area. I believe open mics should be fun but hosts and players should come prepared, stay sober and be supportive of each other. Nothing is more annoying than trying to play in a room and having a table in front of you with loud voices trying to scream over the music. We are fortunate at the Public House to create a Nashville like environment with a professional sound engineer, lights and stage monitors. Check it out and I promise you’ll love the way you sound!

One more thing...I’ve been asking my husband to accompany me on a few tunes on the piano. Check out our first venture in the video section. Wishing everyone peace in the new year!

Back to School 

Hi music friends! Loving the slightly cooler breezes and smell in the air. Reminds me it’s time to get back to work. I took most of August off to enjoy some family time, work on writing , rehearsal time and figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.

I’m excited to be cohosting a weekly open mic and would like to add a few more local venues to my schedule, whether solo, duo or with my Higher Ground bandmates. 

Please take a few minutes to check out some videos under music as well as future shows!


Wrapping up a weeklong workcation in Nashville TN. When we visited 3 years ago I was so inspired by the singer/songwriters I set a goal to be able to accompany my own singing. A few months later I picked up my first ukulele while attending Frankfort’s Bluegrass festival. Soon after I started playing a favorite open mic, Dan D Jac’s. Was a rough start as I fumbled through a bad cover of Creep and More than Words but I kept practicing.

We returned in 2017 and I left with a goal to finish writing songs I’ve had in my head since the age of 16. Within a few months I started writing and have about 35 to this date. Funny, I always thought I’d need time away, in the woods or somewhere quiet to write but these songs come to me in the middle of everyday life, sometimes in dreams. At times it may look like I am doing nothing , sitting on the couch but I’m piecing together the stories and melodies. Sleep has become secondary. I started playing more open mics and soon found myself playing paid shows.

Our trip in 2018 inspired me to improve my performance, memorize material and add guitar back in. I also said I would play at least on open stage when we return.


i am happy to say I’ve played 3 times while here with a few more invitations. I’ve enjoyed the musical community here and am leaving with more goals and inspiration! More to come!


Feeling fortunate 

Feeling  grateful for the friends I have met through music. It’s a pleasure to collaborate on songs, broaden our knowledge, expose each other to new material, new instrumentation and simply have fun making music. 

Spring Fever 

Made it through another Chicago winter! Time to do some spring cleaning. I am creating this page to have a one stop place for venues, fans, fellow musicians and friends to come to rather than the disorganized format of social media. I have a lot of exciting projects in the works including more collaborations with various artists! Thanks for visiting and stay tuned in!


Our Events feature allows you to post your upcoming concerts and events on your website in a calendar or list view. The Pro plan even lets you sell tickets directly through your website!

Previous events

Date Event Location
Opening for Patir Filius Hickory Creek Brewing, New Lenox IL Hickory Creek Brewing, New Lenox IL
Bottomz Up Band Mugshots , Homer Glenn Mugshots , Homer Glenn
Deb McKee VanDril/Joe Leja @ The Studio The Studio, Lockport The Studio, Lockport
Deb McKee VanDril solo Nik & Ivy Nik &Ivy, Lockport Nik &Ivy, Lockport
 —  — Deb McKee VanDril @ Frankfort Country Market Breidert Green, Frankfort Breidert Green, Frankfort
Deb McKee VanDril Solo The Stray Bar, Frankfort Il The Stray Bar, Frankfort Il
Crosstown Classics @ Blue Chip Casino Blue Chip Casino Blue Chip Casino
(CDT, UTC-05) (CDT, UTC-05) Songwriter Showcase hosted by Mister Rees Black Dog Vinyl Cafe, Plainfield Black Dog Vinyl Cafe, Plainfield
Deb McKee VanDril at Frankfort Country Market Frankfort Il Frankfort Il
Catfish days TBA  
Campfire Event Private