Joe Sonnefeldt performs around Chicago and the midwest with his own groups and many others. He occasionally plays percussion for various Broadway shows that come to Chicago including Disney’s Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked and more. Joe has been featured on vibes with “Poi Dog Pondering” and the Latin bands “Raices Profundis” and “Grupo Paz”.
Joe has recorded several CDs with a number of local bands on which he plays steel drum, vibes, congas and various percussion instruments. Recordings include: “In Seed Comes Fruit” with Poi Dog Pondering, “Seconds” with the Pan Go Steel Band, “Azul Oscuro” with Suenos, and “Live Gumbo” with Hurricane Gumbo. He has performed live with these bands as well as Marshall Vente’s Tropicale, Grupo Paz, Fareed Haque, Joe Walsh, Martin Short, Ten City and The Fifth Dimension.
Joe’s playing can be heard on a number of TV and radio commercials for United Airlines, Bally Total Fitness, Hoover, Sears, Carona, Carrier and others. A highly sought-after steel drummer, Joe has played with some of the Chicago’s favorite band leaders.
From 1986 to 1994, Joe studied and performed West African music under Master Drummer Gideon Foli Alorwoyie of Ghana. He performed with Gideon and “The African American Unity Ensemble” at the Percussive Arts Society annual convention, in collaboration with the world-renowned “Trinity Irish Dancers”, and at the city-wide memorial service for Harold Washington- the first black mayor of Chicago.
The Field Museum requested Joe’s expertise in preparation for the museum’s highly successful “Sounds From the Vaults” exhibit. He played several ancient percussion instruments from the museum’s collection so that their music could be digitally stored to be experienced by future generations. It was the most popular exhibit in The Field Museum’s history.
Joe has been teaching privately for 30 years and is currently on the staff of The Chicago Academy For The Arts.