SpareTime Bluegrass Band

We're having a good time....


Band Member Biographies & Band History:

Bob Batyko: 

Bob Batyko, was born in New Jersey, was raised primarily in Akron, Ohio, and is a graduate of Kent State. He's also resided in Virginia and downstate Indiana (close to Bean Blossom where he had a chance to jam with Brother Birch Monroe). Early on he played the guitar and began working in church music, playing for some of the first guitar masses. He then "found" bluegrass music and worked at the songs of Doc Watson, Norman Blake and Bill Harrell. He also has an interest in Django Reinhart and gypsy jazz.  Bob has a day job -- he works in the communications industry.

Jim Robarts

Jim Robarts was born and raised in Southern California. His early musical influence was Spade Cooley, the "King of Western Swing." He became interested in bluegrass in high school, but didn't begin to pursue an instrument until after his return from Vietnam, where he spent two years as a uniformed representative of the United States government. He also worked at the Lava Lamp plant in Chicago, and knows the secret.

He moved to Chicago and took up the banjo. He then moved to Madison to gain Masters Degrees at the University of Wisconsin, and began playing in various bluegrass bands. His banjo is a 1999 Gibson Granada. He retired his 1926 Gibson TB-3 conversion.

Scott R Shank

Scott R. Shank, previously a member of SpareTime, and featured prominently on our first CD, has returned on Dobro. This multi-instrumentalist and vocalist is equally adept at country, rock, and bluegrass, and has a particular fondness for the classic Flatt & Scruggs sound. Over the years he's shared the stage with luminaries such as “Uncle Josh” Graves and Jerry Douglas.

Dale Ward

Dale Ward brings a hard driving mandolin to the band as well as high lonesome vocals. After years of forays into country and rock, he's embraced bluegrass. Another multi-instrumentalist (he's been known to pick up a guitar and fiddle), Dale puts his high tenor to good use in harmonies or lead vocal work.  A Dale Ward bobble-head is in the future.....

Lorie Docken

Lorie Docken rounds out the group on bass. She's been subbing for several years with SpareTime and now steps into the full time slot. The Minnesota native plays an upright Kay bass.

SpareTime Machine... 


No Way!!!!


Big transformations are happening to the SpareTime bunch as Bob & Lisa Steeno change addresses. Bobby has taken an early retirement and they are moving to a et to be built cottage on Florida's panhandle. The remaining band, Bob Batyko & Jim Robarts, will be using various sit in guests to continue the SpareTime tradition. The Steeno's are already planning the reunion gigs next summer with appearances at Flatrock and the Bluegrass Bash on the agenda.


A good-bye Steeno gig is planned for the breakfast brunch at the Eldorado on Sunday Sept. 12 th . The Steeno's and friends will perform. Then we'll wave good-bye (ie Dorothy and the wizard leaving for Kansas) as the Steeno van and pop-up leave Wisconsin for the start of retirement in Florida.

Remember Steeno's, there's no place like home…..


So the road goes on forever and SpareTime never ends….



Steeno's Gone: SpareTime Continues


The Steeno's have now moved to Florida where they are basking in a tropical paradise. To contact them please see the “Contact us” page.


SpareTime continues and welcomes bass player Lorie Docken to the band. She has been the “back-up” bassist for 2 years and takes over the job full-time (well part-time since we are only SpareTime).


Other musician friends are gracing us with their presence on the stage. This adds new songs to the repertoire with different voices and instruments.  


The Labor Day weekend gig at the Roxbury Tavern featured Jim and Laura Lotridge and young Dane . Jim and Laura play with Kevin Tubb and the Welldiggers and also with the perennial local bluegrass band, Pat Downings' Down from the Hills.


The September Hody Bar gig featured mandolin and tenor singer Dale Ward . Dale regularly practices and plays with Jefferson County .


The October Hody Bar gig includes Madison bluegrass all-stars George Diak on mandolin and Scott Shank on Dobro. George and Scott have both played with SpareTime before. Having them again adds volumes of songs to the list.


Stay tuned to see who else stops in……


Who are these guys?
The SpareTime Bluegrass Band 2004

The name is indicative of both the state of bluegrass music and the fact that everyone has an actual job. Years ago the Country Gazette released an album titled "Don't give Up Your Day Job"-a joshing reminder to bluegrass artists of where there priorities might lay. SpareTime, no fools, took the advice to heart and dedicated themselves to having Bluegrass fun in their "Spare Time."

"Ten years ago on a cold, dark night"… a wonderful opening line for a song, and has relevance to The SpareTime Bluegrass Band as an indicator of how much time has passed for the band. It was some ten years ago (the origins are hazy-indicating much beer under the bridge) that SpareTime was formed by Dave Carper, Steve "Buck "Bethel, Bob Batyko, and Bobby Steeno. Over the years other musicians have cycled through the group, most notably Sims Delaney-Potthoff, Jennifer Little, and Scott R. Shank. Other musicians were "Spare Parts" for the band-a loose mélange of players brought in on special occasions. George Diak, Lorie Docken, and Mike Schmidt spared their time to be with the band.

Today the core lineup is:

Bob Batyko: guitar,

Bobby Steeno: mandolin,

Lisa Steeno: bass, and

Jim Robarts: banjo.

The last year has seen Rebecca Patek on fiddle for various dates.

The band is thoroughly grounded in "traditional" bluegrass and performs numbers from Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Jimmy Martin. SpareTime also dips into numbers by Robbie Fulks, the Rolling Stones, Blind Faith, and Bob Dylan (with occasional forays in John Hartford and polka music). In short the mix is eclectic, but rooted in a bluegrass instrumentation and sensibility.

Given that the bluegrass world is a small, cohesive mix of professional and semi-professional bands, the SpareTime Bluegrass Band has appeared on bills with Del McCoury, James King, Special Consensus, David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, and Lynne Morris. Of course SpareTime has played its share of weddings, bars, church bazaars, water parks, and birthday parties. Once they even backed up an older gentleman on musical saw (mercifully for only one song and suffering the criticisms of the saw "artist" when they didn't seem to pick up the musical key quickly enough). In the words of the Grateful Dead, "What a long strange trip it's been."

On the personal front everyone has a college education, everyone has adult children no longer living at home. Everyone has a job. Everyone (amazingly) has a full head of hair. On the individual, personal front……..




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