Mike Combs launched his career as a lead guitarist at the age of 14 with Cincinnati pop-rock band Aquillus and continues to carry the torch some 30+ years later. Honing his skills as lead guitarist and lead singer with local cover bands like Footloose and as the bass guitarist with the Southbound Bluegrass Band, Mike has found a permanent home as the front man for the Encore band. Beginning with his own high school musicals and choral competitions, he has sung and played guitar with local theater companies as well as the Clermont College Music Department. He has lent his talent to productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Fiddler on the Roof and Hello Dolly, both as a singer and an orchestra member. TV and radio appearances include performances on WNKU’s Bluegrass Hour and a solo on WCET’s Christmas special. While Mike continues to serve up lead guitar with the Encore band, his Encore Duo shows with Bob provide the welcome opportunity for both to meet again as friends with each other and with their audiences, and to more personally connect in smaller venues and more intimate setting.
A versatile singer-songwriter, Bob Bridges shares the lead vocals with Mike in the Encore Duo, playing rhythm guitar and lacing in both haunting and whimsical harmonica licks on many tunes. Bob and Mike met as classmates at the University of Cincinnati and quickly formed a musical kinship that continues to flourish some 30 years later. As a teenager, Bob studied organ under Add Lovejoy, and occasionally tagged along with his teacher to his night job at Riverfront Stadium, where Mr. Lovejoy played the stadium organ at the Reds’ home games. Bob served for several years as the music director at Clermont County’s largest Catholic Church, St. Veronica in Eastgate, Ohio. He now accompanies the choirs on organ, piano, guitar and harmonica at Holy Trinity Church in Batavia, Ohio and St. Bernadette Church in Amelia, Ohio. Music is a family affair for Bob, whose older daughter is a middle school music teacher and whose younger daughter is his church music director. An Encore Band founding member, Bob still sings lead and backup vocals and plays keyboards with the band. But the real vocal magic happens every time Bob joins Mike in the Encore Duo, where the two spin tales and blend harmonies they have sung together for decades.