In the spring of 2009, friends Mike Kierstead and Tim Arnold finally decided to do something that they had talked about for years. They were playing together as members of The Star City Band, doing classic rock and blues. With summer approaching, they felt the timing was right for putting together an acoustic act. On May 15th, as the opening act for The Taste of Miamisburg, AQK was born.
AQK provides a variety of acoustic sounds, primarily from the 70’s. While their song list is made up of artists like Jimmy Buffett, The Eagles, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it also includes some songs that you may not hear from your typical acoustic group. You just might hear some Rascals, Steelers Wheel, Jim Croce, John Denver, James Taylor, Cat Stevens or Eric Clapton. Throw in some Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson and it is easy to understand why the band has become so popular in such a short time.
“We strive to play songs that are familiar to the audience, while keeping the playlist unique”, says Kierstead. “It seems like every practice session, somebody brings a song for consideration. I believe that the songwriters of the 70’s have provided us with some of the most timeless music ever. Even the children of those of us who grew up with that music have a real appreciation for it.”
So what does AQK mean? In 1966, the father of AQK member Mike wanted to get vanity plates for his newly purchased car. Although his initials were AAK, he came home from the license bureau with AQK on the car. After a few laughs he was asked why. Apparently, every combination after AAK was taken until he got to AQK. He drove on those plates for the next 30 years. Mike and their friends always joked about naming a band AQK. So when Mike and Tim Arnold put together an acoustic branch of The Star City Band, it was Tim’s brother who half-jokingly suggested they name it AQK. It stuck. “I feel like it’s a nice tribute to my Dad. He would have really enjoyed the music and the name”, says Mike.
Mike Kierstead sings and plays guitar and harmonica. Before AQK, Mike played with a re-birth of The Star City Band with brother Pat and long time friends Tim Arnold and Steve Speelman. Prior to that, he spent most of his musical career doing acoustic work, including weddings and wedding receptions.
Tim Arnold sings and plays bass guitar, as well as some mandolin. Prior to forming AQK with Mike Kierstead, Tim began his career as a musician in 1976 as one of the founding members of the original Star City Band. Over the years Tim has played with countless musicians around the Dayton area, contributing to a wide range of musical styles from rock and blues to bluegrass.
Rick Cox joined AQK in December of 2009, providing congas and other percussion. Rick has played with numerous musicians over the years, as well as doing some studio work. He brings a very laid-back style that is the perfect complement to AQK’s repertoire.