BYPASS OFF: THE STORY
How They Got Here
The genesis of Bypass Off took place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Guitarist, Bob Shields, and keyboardist, Dave Thierry, are best friends who grew up loving to listen to and play progressive rock music. As soon as they could afford instruments and lessons, they began tackling the classic songs of bands like Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, drummer, Dave O'Neill, a Dunnvillian (i.e. a pleasant person who comes from a town about 40 minutes outside of Hamilton) was also growing up loving and playing progressive rock music. Dave O. really dug bands like Max Webster, Frank Zappa, and Rush. In fact, Dave has probably has seen Rush in person more than just about anyone! Next, and sometime in the future, enter vocalist, guitarist (actually, multi-instrumentalist), Sim Bansal, who, as a 10 year old, met Jon Anderson, lead vocalist of the band Yes, after one of their concerts (thanks to his uncle Nick who is a drummer and has been a great influence on Sim); needless to say, Sim's progressive rock roots were forged early! And finally, enter Olivia, also a prog nerd of the highest quality. Olivia more than likely had no choice but to become the great musician she is today,...she was born into a musical family....dad's a drummer, mom, a singer, brother, a keyboardist, and composer, and sister, a trumpet player!!
And so, as fate would have it, these prog paths would eventually intersect. First, Bob would meet Dave. O, while attending college in Hamilton, Ontario, for music. Upon graduating, these two great friends went on to collaborate often, while playing, recording, and touring in various jazz and rock groups and leading original music projects. Next, Bob would eventually introduce the two ‘Daves’. Then, sometime later, Bob would meet Sim then Olivia at the same college that he attended and met Dave O. at (...where Bob now teaches jazz and contemporary music.). He was blown away with their musicianship and their general coolness as people. Recognizing there may be something special here, i.e. nice people, musical gifts and love for all things proggish, over time he would invite them all to form the band that he and Dave T. dreamed up. And here we are today!
Together, these friends who form Bypass Off have decided to do something new and exciting within the tribute band format. So, rather than focusing on recreating only one band, as other tribute acts do, Bypass Off is ramping up the prog nerd factor, recreating great songs from a variety of the best progressive rock bands in history. They've decided on this song format simply because they love more than one band, and they have observed that other prog fans share this feeling. So, Bypass Off is the 'musi-literal' response to, "why not put a band together that satisfies this polyamorous love for prog...for the ultimate prog experience!"
Bob Shields is a guitarist, composer, researcher, author, and educator based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He has performed and recorded alongside many of Canada's greatest musicians, and has toured Canada, Europe, and Japan. Bob was a guitarist in the popular European progressive rock band Exception, led by Rick van der Linden, and that achieved five gold albums.
Bob and Dave Thierry, lifelong friends, collaborated as the founding members of Bypass Off. This band has given Bob the opportunity to finally pay tribute to the music that shaped his early musical journey...and still dose!
A busy and versatile musician, Bob leads the contemporary jazz trio SJF, https://www.sjftrio.com/, He also is the guitarist in Blue Turtle, a Sting/Police tribute act, https://www.facebook.com/BlueTurtleTribute/.
An eternal student of his art, Bob holds a Ph.D. in Musicology. As a researcher, Bob’s focus is in the area of creative wellbeing. He is an active and published author in his field (Humanities and Social Sciences Review, 7 (2), December 2017 and the International Journal for Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, Vol.51, 2018, 3-4), and is an international guest speaker in the field of creativity and wellbeing. This year, he is scheduled to be a guest speaker for the Ontario Music Therapy Academy on the subject of improvisation and self-regulation.
Currently, Bob teaches at both Mohawk College and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and occasionally serves on the music faculty at York University in Toronto. Bob’s objective as an educator is to empower people to manage their creativity as an integral part of their human and artistic development.
Bass & Vocal
Olivia is a freelance bassist, singer and songwriter form Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Olivia Brown first picked up an electric bass at 17 and has been writing songs ever since. She has enjoyed her career playing and writing in many styles of music, including R&B, alternative rock, blues, jazz, pop, and funk. She is currently a member of several bands besides leading
her own (
Olivia is a graduate of the Mohawk College music program. She was a musician in residence at The Banff Centre in B.C, Canada in 2018, and has been nominated twice as an Emerging Artist in the Hamilton Art Awards (2017 & 2018), where she was nominated this year for the Shirley Elford Emerging Artist Prize (2019).
Dave is a professional musician from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Dave's career as a keyboardist, composer, and educator spans 30+ years. He began his journey into prog music in the late 70s listening to keyboard mentors like Tony Banks, Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and Jon Lord. Dave's years of study prepared him for a diverse career. He has been performing regularly with many different groups, ranged in style from classical, jazz, country, blues, R&B, to a soloist. His experience served him well as a bandleader with the group "Backroom 11", and now with Bypass Off. Dave feels at home playing the music he grew up with. drawing from all his musical influences.
Dave holds a B.Mus. and a B. Ed. degree.
Lead Vocal and Guitar
Sim Bansal, is a guitarist, vocalist, and composer based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Having grown up in a musical family - his father a guitar player and uncle a drummer, playing an instrument, he feels, was inevitable.
“For years, I felt more comfortable expressing myself through the guitar than through normal conversation,” he laughingly recalls.
Thanks to his father’s record collection, he developed a taste for the creatively rich music of yesterday: progressive rock, jazz, avant garde, and some of the more, let’s say, “artful” pop. He was also exposed to an abundance of live music very early in life. He recalls:
“It has a big impact. The first concert I ever saw was Yes at Massey Hall in Toronto. I was only 10, but remember being in awe of the energy. It was like watching a band of mythical creatures [laughs]. After the show we waited to try and meet the band. When they emerged, the singer, Jon Anderson, cut through the crowd, turning his attention to me. He exclaimed, “I’m so surprised to see such a youngster! You’re bringing Yes into the next generation”. I like to think we both inspired each other that day [laughs].”
Sim went on to develop his musicality through with playing various bands, projects and composing original material. Feeling limited by self-instruction, he enrolled in college for applied jazz where he would meet some fellow members of this band.
He was also honoured to accept the Brian Lee Griffith Guitar Award - a notable accolade in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.
“This band hits close to home for me,” he notes. “Playing the music I grew up hearing with such great musicians and friends gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. It helps me celebrate my roots as well as the memory of my father, who gave me the gift of music.”
Drums & Vocal
Dave O'Neill is based in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. He has been performing and teaching for over 30 years and has been enamoured with music all his life. His interest in the drums began at a very young age. Typically, he would bang on any surface or use his voice; essentially beat boxing in 1972..... before it was a 'thing'.
He didn't acquire his first set of drums until the age of 12, and it was one of the greatest moments in his life. When he was 16, he lost his fingers and half of his palm on his right hand in a workplace accident; the worst moment in his life. But, being young, resilient, and naive, he set out to overcome the loss and to continue to play as a one handed drummer, or more accurately, a "one and a half handed drummer". Through trial and error and the help of good people (family, Ernie Porthouse, Bill Nancekivell), Dave had a prosthesis made that could hold a stick. Many years were spent making it work, practicing, refining, and just trying to get better (and still is).
Dave holds a Diploma in Music from Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont. After graduation, he spent some years traversing the country with various groups. In 1993 he returned to school and later graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Performance, then pursued a Degree in Education, both from the University of Toronto. Upon graduation, he devoted himself to the vibraphone to satisfy melodic and harmonic interests. He says that the vibes just made sense in that regard, as he already had the prosthesis for sticks and brushes, and still got to hit things!
Dave's performance experience is extensive and ranges in style from Jazz, Rock, Salsa, Blues, Funk, Country, Theatre and Television pit bands, Polka, Samba, Hip Hop, African Dance Drumming, Modern Dance Technique Class Accompanying, D n B, Reggae, Electronic,.... almost everything at some point or another!
Dave has served as a jury member for the Ontario Arts Council, taught at Mohawk College, given master classes at Carleton University in Ottawa, and was the key note speaker for the ETFO conference in Waterloo, Ont. Dave is endorsed by Headhunters Drum Sticks - "Stick with the Groove"!