The Kings of Cole is made up of three musicians with diverse and deep pedigrees.
Tim Sparks – Guitar
A guitarist with an international following, Tim Sparks is a pillar in the Minnesota music scene. A founding member of the vocalese group Rio Nido, Tim studied with Jesus Silva (a protegee of legendary classical guitaris Andrés Segovia), and is himself a master of both Latin and swing/bebop jazz as well as traditional Greek and Klezmer styles. Tim has been named Best Acoustic Guitarist, Best Latin Jazz guitarist, and Best Jazz Guitarist in the Minnesota Music Awards and in 1993 he won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas, for his adaptation of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. He has collaborated with composer John Zorn and has toured in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Joe Weismann – Bass
A music graduate of Carleton College, Joe has performed in a cappella singing groups, instrumental jazz combos and everything in between. He played with bluegrass diva Becky Schlegel on A Prairie Home Companion, and was a founding member of local swing favorites The Jaztronauts as well as MPR’s In the Loop house band, The Smarts. Joe’s large 78 record collection provided the inspiration and much of the source material for the Kings of Cole.
Jim Kennedy – Piano
A native of Eveleth, MN, Jim started his professional career playing solo bar gigs on acoustic guitar while still in high school. After moving to the Twin Cities he took up electric guitar with local proto-punk legends The Glenrustles and then moved over showcase his prodigious jazz-keyboard skills in the Hot Heads, and later in the Jaztronauts. He and Weismann formed the Smarts to perform the backlog of original pop material they had been composing while still in the Jaztronauts. Jim has recently found his way back to guitar, and can occasionally be seen and heard in the local alt-country band, the Saddle Sores. A theater musical, Lemonade for the Lawnboy, features music he co-wrote with Weismann for the Smarts.