Local 56 Executive Board Members
President: Eric Vander Stel
Vice-President: Bennie Keys
Secretary/Treasurer: Gary Sironen
Paul Austin, Michael Crawford, Jennifer Cullin, Kevin Murphy, & Elgin Vines
Eric VanderStel has been a guitarist and vocalist playing west Michigan area night clubs since 1974. He has been a Local 56 member since 1976 and on the Board since 1994. He graduated from Union High School and attended music classes at Grand Valley State University from where he became a guitar instructor for Grand Rapids Public Schools. In his professional career he's been the leader of bands Ira Mayor, Suspect, Mustang, L56 Blues Allstars and a member of the Cimmaron Band. He has done recording work at River City Studios, Fast Tracks, and Station C Studios. Other credits include opening for Willie Nelson, Mitch Ryder, and Bobby Bear. Eric is a husband and father to one child and a Fourth Degree Master teaching martial arts Tae Kwon Do at the YMCA.
Vice President Bennie Keys has been a member of Local 56 since 1989. He has been on the Executive board for about 7 years. He was also on The AFM's Diversity Council for two years. He is also the Business agent for our very fine Local. If you would like to contact him, his number is 813-0753, E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Sironen has been a Local 56 member since 1973 and Secretary/Treasurer since 1992. He has served on the International Musician Committee at AFM Conventions since 1995 and has been the Committee Chair sionce 1997. He began playing trumpet professionally while still in high school; received music degrees from Grand Rapids Junior College and Michigan State University; taught public school band and choir for 10 years; and he is currently Minister of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Wyoming, MI, where he directs the adult choir and leads the Praise Team as keyboardist and vocalist. He is a composer, arranger and playwright, and he has a wife, 3 children and several grandchildren.
Jenni Cullin has been a member of Local 56 for almost 10 years now. She also works as the Local's Office Assistant and Web Designer. She is the lead singer for the band Cover Story and also does solo work and children's parties for the Grand Rapids area. She started playing the saxophone in grade school and still plays in her band. She attended Grand Valley State University for Music Education and is currently back in school to further her education
Elgin Vines has been described as one of the most sought-after jazz bassists in Western Michigan. He started stroking the strings professionally over 40 years ago, making a switch from woodwinds at the urging of his college music professor who needed a good bassist and pointed out greater career opportunities for bass players.
As a retired technologist and claims analyst for Amway Corporation, Elgin plays these days for the love of it and spends his spare time listening to his jazz collection, as well as offering technical assistance and moral support to young bassists when requested. He also leads his own group, ELGIN VINES & COMPANY.
Kevin Murphy has been a member of Local 56 since 2000 and became a Board Member in 2008. He has a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from Aquinas College, studied at Berkley Jazz Music Conservatory in Boston and attended the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles. He teaches private lessons in guitar, sax, bass and voice.
Kevin has played music professionally most of his life, currently fronting his own band, Murphy's Law on sax, vocals and guitar, and he also does a solo act. Over the years, he has opened for James Brown and played with Junior Walker's All-Star Band, as well as some Motown groups. He also does some vocal recording, music arranging and orchestration, and he practices martial arts.
Kevin says, "I support youth in their pursuit of music because it was what helped me prepare for my career in music. I have two beautiful daughters and I am still a free spirit. My pursuit of the martial arts encompasses a combination of styles; as a result, my approach seems to be a bit unorthodox but effective."
Board Member: Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford plays Double Bass with the Grand Rapids Symphony. He has been member of the Local 56 Board of Directors since 2012 and serves as the Board representative of the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony.
Paul Austin joined the AFM through Local 1 (Cincinnati, OH) in 1986 and has been a member of Local 56 since 1996, joining the Executive Board in 2013. He has played the French Horn with the Grand Rapids Symphony since 1999.
Paul has been very active as a union leader, serving on many committees of the Professional Orchestra Musicians Association of Grand Rapids (POMA-GR, the musicians of the GR Symphony), co-chair of the Negotiations Committee, Board Member and Vice President of the AFM's Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), and most recently led a successful campaign to have POMA-GR accepted into the AFM's International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM).
Paul is featured in several recordings on the OgreOgress Productions label, has a doctorate of music performance degree, has taught horn on the faculty of colleges in Michigan, Louisiana, and Ohio, and is the author of "A Modern Valve Horn Player's Guide to the Natural Horn".