Donohoe & Grimes Project


Jeff Donohoe- Jeff started playing trumpet in the school band in 4th grade.  By the 9th grade he was leaning toward jazz, and managed to pass an audition for the senior jazz band.  That was all good and fine until his Dad realized it counted as a class in school.  Dad would only allow one band class and the band director needed all his trumpeters in marching band.  To get around both problems, Jeff decided to fill an opening for a bass player (the only position exempt from marching band).  Then he had three new problems... no bass, no idea how to play one, and he had to learn how to read bass clef.  Somehow it all worked out, and by Junior year he realized playing bass (and singing) had certain subtle advantages over trumpet (but that's another story).  He formed a rock band along with other players from the school jazz band and for the next several years they practiced and toured as "Off the Wall" (in the days when a musician could actually make a decent living playing in bars).  Off the Wall disbanded in 1983 and Jeff went on to play with several other Albuquerque area bands including Face to Face, Third Wish, The Exchange, Kid Rhythm and Sassy Jones.  After a long musical sabbatical and a constantly morphing career that included computers, cameras and a lot of annual trips to MacWorld in San Francisco,  Jeff ran into former roommate Mike Grimes on the shore of Elephant Butte lake.  They had not seen each other since the rock band days except for a few He-man lake trips (yet another story).  They played a few times together just for fun, and then formed the acoustic duo of Donohoe & Grimes in 2001.  Things had changed quite a bit since the two had been roommates in the rock and roll days.  Mike had been married for 18 years, M-TV had gotten really weird, Al Gore invented the internet, and what the heck happened to Michael Jackson?  Jeff came to realize that playing acoustic bass (and singing without blowing out his vocal chords) had certain subtle advantages over just working all the time (although not the same subtle advantages of being the bass player and lead singer in a rock and roll band...).  Like they say... life is a circle.


Mike Grimes - A relatively late bloomer, Mike didn't pick up the guitar until he was 18.  He started taking lessons at the local YMCA's folk guitar workshop.  In 1979 he met Jeff Donohoe through a mutual friend and the three became roommates.  It was then he started studying acoustic guitar with Off the Wall's  guitarist Vaughn McMillan, who was teaching at Luchetti Drum and Guitar at the time.  While he really liked listening to the electric rock music of the time (Van Halen, Kansas, Styx, Rush, REO Speedwagon,  etc.) he was more interested in playing the unplugged music of the day and was heavily influenced by the likes of The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Heart and others.  The fact he didn't own an electric guitar or amp probably contributed to his acoustic interest as well.  To this day he has never owned an electric guitar.  Though Jeff and Mike lived together for over 3 years, they never got around to playing music together.  Mike was still pretty much of a novice at the time and Jeff was busy playing the club circuit 6 nights a week with Off the Wall.  Plus, the "unplugged" movement made popular by M-TV had not happened yet and acoustic acts were virtually non-existent.  After getting married in 1983 to his wife Julie (whom he met in a bar at an Off the Wall performance), career and other interests got in the way of playing guitar and Jeff and Mike drifted apart.  After a brief 15+ year layoff,  Mike decided it was time to pick up the acoustic again in 2000.  In 2001 he started playing solo at the open-mics at the Blue Dragon coffee house.  A few weeks after he saw Jeff at Elephant Butte, he met up with him again at a gig that former Off the Wall keyboardist Steve Brittenham was playing at with his new band.  They started discussing playing and Jeff mentioned he had bought an acoustic bass a few years before that he never played.  They exchanged numbers and Mike got Jeff a CD of the songs he was playing and invited him to sit in with him at a gig he was playing at the Blue Dragon. They played together a few more times and decided to give the acoustic duo thing a spin and see where it went.  Seems the timing was right this time and they've been playing together more or less on a consistent basis ever since. 


Donnie Frank - Donnie started playing drums in Jr. High School band in the 7th grade under the direction of Jim Stearns.   From there Donnie studied marching percussion at Del Norte High School where he performed as 1st snare all 3 years he attended Del Norte.   Donnie turned pro his Senior year and has been performing professionally ever since.  His first paid gig was with a band called "Hot August" when he was 17 and he made $50. To this day it is his highest paying gig.  From 1986 to 1994 he was the drummer for one of Albuquerque's premier bands, "Della Street" doing many tours across the southwest including Aspen, Co. where he picked up the expensive sport of snow skiing funded by rich socialite groupies.  From 1991- 2002, Donnie took his talents international and played the USO circuit with "Tangled Web", "Ravin" & "Frankendorf" taking him to over 50 countries and numerous islands.  Though Donnie has done other things to generate income (he owns, a live sound reinforcement company), music has always been a a staple in his financial diet and always will be.  He is also an avid recycler and an average cycler as well as the best "Tip Jar whore" this side of the Mississippi!


Vaughn McMillan - Although the piano lessons at age 6 never really took hold, somewhere around the age of 8 or 9 Vaughn started playing guitar and was hooked. Music became the primary focus of his life.  An avid guitarist through his school years, he played in school stage bands every year from 7th grade onward. For a number of those years, students were required to play in the concert and marching bands in order to qualify for the stage band. Since there aren't a lot of guitarists in marching bands, he played the trumpet (badly) for much of his school career just so he could play guitar in the stage band. Eventually though, the band directors realized he was a much better guitarist than trumpet player, so the "must be in concert band" requirement was waived and he put the trumpet away for the good of humanity. It was during early high school that Vaughn met Jeff. By the time they graduated, they were close friends and were playing in a band together. A few years and personnel changes later, Vaughn and Jeff were playing together in Off the Wall, a successful Albuquerque band during the early 1980s. In addition to playing 6 nights a week in a band, Vaughn was also teaching guitar lessons to as many as 40 students per week at a local music store. His student list included Jeff's roommate, Mike Grimes. Funny how that works out, huh? After the members of Off the Wall went their separate ways, Vaughn stepped away from the music business, first as a construction testing technician/inspector/administrator, and eventually as a technical writer in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years. While in Los Angeles he seldom picked up his guitar; woodworking became his primary artistic outlet. By 2011, the winds of fate (and the job market) would lead Vaughn back home to Albuquerque, and before long he sat in on a couple of songs with Mike and Jeff at a few gigs and discovered how rusty his playing had become over the years. A combination of embarrassment and pride prompted him to brush up on his chops, and over time he started resembling a real guitar player again. Now he's having great fun with his first artistic love music and feels privileged to be doing it with great, longtime friends.