ABOUT THE BAND
The Wolf-Cats are an acoustically oriented string band focusing on eclectic and traditional styles of music including swing, gypsy, bluegrass, blues and occasionally other styles that fit the band’s mood and taste. The repertoire also features original music written by band leader Bob Bernstein (Wolf-Man Bob), who started the project together with his son Aaron in 2011. The band currently comprises Bob on guitar, mandolin and occasionally banjo; Bob’s son Aaron on fiddle; Richard Charles on guitar; Ani Azoto on bass; and Mike Leuci on percussion.
Bob Bernstein/”Wolf-Man Bob” (guitar, mandolin) Bob grew up hearing the sounds of his Uncle George’s jazz-oriented tenor banjo and mandolin. Taking up guitar at age 12 he soon learned to accompany his uncle in playing standards from the American songbook. Like most kids of his generation, Bob was eventually drawn to blues and rock but also listened to a broad variety of traditional music including folk and bluegrass. Eventually learning mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass as well, Bob always maintained traditional acoustic music as his central focus. A practicing psychologist and college professor by profession, Bob has been associated with a series of bands, culminating in his present band, The Wolf-Cats, which focuses on traditional American acoustic music styles.
Aaron Bernstein (fiddle) Aaron at 20 is currently majoring in music at CCNY. Aaron began playing violin at age 7, taking classical violin in school and learning traditional fiddle music at home from his dad, Wolf-Man Bob. Aaron was soon playing in both the orchestra and chamber ensembles in Baldwin as well as jamming with his dad’s bluegrass friends at home and at music festivals. Aaron joined his dad in forming the Wolf-Cats music project several years ago and is an integral part of the Wolf-Cat sound. His current influences and interests lean toward traditional and gypsy-jazz music, notably the playing of Stephane Grappelli. Aaron currently plays with several other jazz-based ensembles in NYC.
Ani Azoto (bass) Ani was born in NYC and raised in Port Washington on the North Shore of Long Island. Growing up on the sounds of everything from The Beatles and Motown to Louie Prima, Miles Davis to Frank Sinatra thanks to the influence of his family, Ani began cutting his teeth at a very young age in the late 70’s Long Island club scene. He studied Music Education at SUNY New Paltz, NY and Performance at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Ani has lived in and toured all across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He has shared the stage with a long list of artist including Bo Diddly, Elvin Bishop, INXS, The Divinyls, Washboard Chaz, Doctor John, Marcia Ball, Chris Daniels and the Kings, David Bromberg, Mark Wood, and The Voices of Unity Gospel Choir, just to name a few. Back in the NY area since the late 90’s, Ani has been working in a technical capacity as a staffer at NBC Studios in NYC and playing locally in the LI and NYC area.
Richard Charles (guitar) With a wide spectrum of music present in his house growing up, Rich developed an ear for rock, swing and classical at an early age. After being afforded some years of classical piano training, he traded that in for electric guitar in his early teens. By his mid twenties he started studying jazz. Since then he's gone on to working in everything from rock bands to society bands, the occasional pit orchestra, studio session time, and even a few solid years in a country band. As of only a short couple of years ago he's taken to spending some more time on acoustic guitar. Some new avenues opened and he wound up being invited to join The Wolf-Cats. For him the future is wide open, and he's still having a ball playing.
Michael Leuci (drums/percussion) Mike hails from an eclectic background of musical activities, including performance on drums and percussion, keyboard, guitar and bass, original music composition and studio recording/production. His interests encompass styles ranging from rock to jazz, folk, classical, electronic and experimental music. He developed an ear for music at a young age, started playing keyboard at age 3, and was writing music by age 7. A few years later, he took up drums and, in college, began teaching himself to play guitar. He studied piano formally in high school and college and studied composition in college for a time. Since then, Mike has maintained an active musical career in the New York area, performing and recording with numerous bands and music projects across a variety of genres and writing and recording his own original music. In addition, he operates MCL Media/Arts, a multi-media creative-services business (mclma.com).