Pat Fleming was born in Marietta, Ohio but grew up primarily in Evanston, IL. He started playing the guitar at the age of 11, having demonstrated an interest in it long before that. He studied with many teachers, including Paul Strasser, Curt Lehman, David Bloom, Jack Cecchini, the renowned session player Milt Norman, the late jazz guitar master John Abercrombie, Jazz guitar legend Mike Stern and saxophone icon David Liebman. His scholarship and vast performing experience have embraced many types of music, making him well-versed in folk, Balkan, jazz, blues and rock styles. He was playing professional performances regularly by the age of 16.
His skill and versatility have made for a career of diversity and range. In the 1980’s, he was a member of two of Chicago’s most innovative and avant garde bands: D-Section and The Balkan Rhythm Band. In 1981, he was asked by harmonica virtuoso and musical phenomenon Howard Levy (Kenny Loggins, The Flecktones, Paul Simon, Donald Fagen) to join the Balkan Rhythm Band, and from 1981-85, they toured North America, playing notable clubs, popular radio shows and prestigious folk festivals, including the University of Chicago Folk Festival, and those of Philadelphia and Winnepeg. Their award-winning release, “Jazziest Balkan Dance Band Around”, came out on Flying Fish Records in 1983, and was frequently heard on NPR.
In the mid-1980’s, he began to collaborate with some singer-songwriters, most notably Anne Hills and beloved Chicago artist Michael Smith. He recorded with Anne Hills on her album “Don’t Explain”, and performed with her at yet more clubs and festivals in the U.S. and Canada, including the Kerrville Festival, Mountain Stage, The Chicago Folk Festival and Winnepeg. With Michael Smith, he has recorded four albums, played on various NPR radio shows (including WBEZ’s Flea
Market Show), and appeared at the Fast Folk Festival in NYC, as well as clubs like Ann Arbor, MI’s The Ark and Delta 88 in NYC. He was in the cast of Michael Smith’s play, “Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate”, which won four Joseph Jefferson Awards in 1994. The much-praised production had two runs, one in Chicago and one in Marin County, CA, and Pat was an integral part of both. In working with such singer-songwriters, Pat has shared a stage with several other noted musicians: David Amram, Bob Gibson, Bonnie Koloc, Jim Post, Tom Paxton, Paquito de Rivera and Josh White Jr., to name only a few.
He toured the nation with the Fareed Haque Quartet from 1990-94, playing in concerts and on television. That ensemble opened for Sting at the famous Montreaux Jazz Festival (Switzerland) in 1991. As a member of Chicago’s high-profile Bradley Young Orchestra, he has appeared with such celebrities as Jim Belushi, the Coasters, Rosemary Clooney, Roberta Flack, Ben E. King, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Rita Moreno, and the Shirelles.
As lead guitarist with the band ‘Mother Root’, a rock band that writes its own original material, he has performed at Chicago’s leading venues: the Riviera, Park West,Skyline Stage at Navy Pier, House of Blues, both the Rosemont Horizon (Allstate Arena) and the Rosemont Theatre, and the Midwest Bank Amphitheater. They have been asked to open for great rock legends like Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Grand Funk, Government Mule, Ten Years After, Molly Hatchet, John Entwhistle, Chris Duarte, Steve Morse, Ronnie Montrose, Robin Trower, The Allman Brothers band and Joe Walsh.
In late 2005 and again in 2007, Pat was asked to participate in the NYC workshops of a musical written by master of mystery Stephen King and rock icon John Mellencamp. He was one of four live musicians performing for the two workshops of “The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County”, and can be heard on the CD release.
Currently, Pat is performing and recording with The Bad Sneakers Orchestra, an amazing Steely Dan tribute band; the New Standard jazz Quintet, an ensemble that features Pat’s original compositions; Howard Levy’s Acoustic Express Quartet, among many others. In 2005 & 2006, attendees of a prestigious harmonica seminar at NC’s Outer Banks were treated to daily workshops and performances by Pat, Howard and members of Trio Globo, including Glen Velez. Pat is also music Director for Tracye Eileen’s PTR Band, who have opened for The Stylistics, and appear regularly at Chicago’s premiere blues venue, Buddy Guy’s Legends.
In addition to his artistry as a performing musician, Pat is also a producer and a composer (BMI) of high regard. He has arranged for and played on many artist’s albums. He produced recording projects for jazz vibrophonist Kathy Kelly, and singers Michael Smith (the CD There), Sharon Stephens, The Bad Sneakers Orchestra and Tracye Eileen.
A sought-after educator, Pat has taught music since the age of 16 at many learning institutions over the years, among them Columbia College, the Music Gallery, the Bloom School of Jazz, Old Town School Of Folk Music, The Guitar Works, Flynn Guitars and Hogeye Music.