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Orland Park Couple Shares Love of Music

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

by Owens Media, Inc.

for Orland/Homer Neighbors Magazine

photos by Scott Duff

Desiree Harris of Orland Park credits her parents with her love for music.

A professional musician for most of her adult life, Harris recalled, “I remember music playing a big role in my family’s life. My parents constantly had music playing in the house.” Harris remembered waking on Saturday mornings to the sounds of Aerosmith, Earth, Wind & Fire, Cyndi Lauper, Donna Summer and more.

Harris and her husband, Jeff, perform with Libido Funk Circus, a Midwest cover band. Jeff is a founding member of the band that was formed 25 years ago with Desiree joining the band seven years later. Jeff plays guitar while Desiree sings. The couple has a 19 year old son, Logan, a freshman in college.

Harris’s mother, Rochelle Stephens, first sang as a teen in a band with her brother. That led to performing at Chicago nightclub venues with various bands. Her live performances eventually landed her a manager and recording contract with Rochelle recording four songs in Nashville. Harris’s dad, Lou Stephens, joined the band as a drummer and they soon changed its name to The Family and found the most success under that name and lineup. The band’s single “Face the Autumn” was a hit regionally and appeared on Billboard charts along with Jimi Hendrix and other popular artists at the time.

“I remember when I was a little girl being brought up on stage when my parents’ band was performing and my mom holding me while she was singing,” Harris said, adding that her childhood included watching her parents perform, listening to their recordings and looking at their scrapbooks of press clippings.

“I had no idea at the time how much that was influencing my desire to be a singer myself,” she said.

Des and Jeff Harris

Harris’s dad eventually left the music business for real estate, creating Stephens and Hayes Construction and building new homes. Rochelle Stephens continued singing until Desiree was 10, retiring to be a stay at home mom.

A highlight of Jeff Harris’s childhood was seeing Elvis Presley perform live in June, 1976, shortly after his fifth birthday. “My mom introduced me to a lot of great music and she was always playing music,” Harris recalled. “My maternal grandmother was also a singer and family lore was that a few of my uncles played in bands that used to back up Pat Boone and Jerry Lee Lewis,” he said smiling.

“My Uncle John gave me a guitar when I was about 12 years old,” Jeff said, adding, that he knew he had found his passion.

Desiree Harris’s parents moved to Orland Park in 1978 when Desiree was two years old. She has two older siblings, a brother and a sister. Harris’s brother works in digital artwork and web design. Her sister works in sales and marketing.

Desiree Harris studied ballet as a toddler and piano when she was seven years old. She joined the choir at Sandburg and furthered her love for singing. Her passion for dance continued in high school with her being a member of the Eaglettes Dance Squad.

After graduating from Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Harris continued her education at Columbia College in Chicago, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in management with a concentration in music business.

“All I knew was that I wanted music to be a big part of my life,” she said, adding, “I had no idea how that would happen!” While at Columbia, Harris interned at EMI Music Marketing in Arlington Heights, IL, being hired full-time after graduation.

“EMI was the sales and distribution company for Capitol, Virgin, Blue Note and nettwerk record labels, among others,” she said. Harris began as an assistant to the branch manager, eventually becoming a field marketing representative.

“It was the best job I could have had in my early twenties. I went to many concerts and met famous rock stars, including Lenny Kravitz, Norah Jones, Janet Jackson, Everclear and others,” she recalled, adding that she gained valuable behind the scenes experience in the music industry.

Jeff grew up in the west suburbs - Carol Stream, West Chicago and Wheaton. His high school years were divided between Wheaton North and Glenbard North, where he met many of his longtime music collaborators.

Jeff Harris studied guitar with George Bellas, his primary instructor for nearly five years when Jeff was a teen. Bellas is an accomplished guitarist who has performed with a number of well known musical groups.

When Jeff was 17, he joined his high school friends and formed an original progressive rock band, Perfect Isolation, with Jeff performing as lead singer and guitarist. His passion for bluesy roots/Americana rock led him to form a Black Crowes/Allman Brothers inspired band, Traveling Sky. With Traveling Sky, Jeff was lead guitarist and shared songwriting duties.

Traveling Sky performed on the Jenny Jones Show and enjoyed local success filling Chicago area venues. After Traveling Sky, Jeff Harris and Dan Milligan became guitar player, drummer and songwriters for Mary’s Window, a post-punk/industrial band that performed in Chicago, recorded four full length albums, toured nationally and signed with Mercury/Slip Disc Records.

Libido Funk Circus was formed 25 years ago by three high school friends, Jeff Harris (guitar), Jaysun Lewis (lead male vocalist) and Dan Milligan (drummer). Originally created as a disco/funk tribute band with over the top costumes, the group expanded to include a female vocalist and expanded the band’s repertoire to include a number of genres including Motown, classic rock, 80s, country, oldies, 90s pop/rock/hop hop and currents.

“I would’ve never guessed that a band that started just to entertain friends for a one-off party we threw would turn into a 25 year fulfilling, professional music career,” Jeff Harris said.

Desiree began performing with the band in 2003 with she and Jeff getting married in 2007. They are co-owners of Libido Funk Circus and handle the band’s bookings and management.Milligan is the group’s musical director, programmer and social media manager.

Desiree and Jeff also own Alliance Music Entertainment, booking Chicago area cover bands for venues, corporate and private events, a natural progression from booking their own band.

Describing Libido Funk, Harris said, “I call it a high energy show band. We play high energy, danceable and recognizable music from a variety of genres. We like to put out feel-good vibes playing feel-good music and want people to forget about the tediousness of mundane life.”

She explained, “We believe that people onstage should not look like they were just pulled out of the crowd. We place an emphasis on the visual aspect of a live show as much as we do musically, wearing circus style costumes and flashy stage clothes. We incorporate costume changes into our show during tributes for Michael Jackson, Elvis, Tina Turner, songs from the musical, Grease.” Costumes and choreography are a big part of the band’s show as well as audience involvement with some fun props and fun stage antics.

Jeff Harris added, “As frequent concert-goers ourselves, Dez and I are fans of a great live band experience. Walking away from a concert in awe and inspired from the experience feels amazing. We try to replicate that feeling for our fans and attendees, albeit on a smaller scale. We try to give people a ‘show’ for their money - not just a band playing music. I’ve had many people come to me and say, “You have no idea how much joy your band brings to people.’ When I hear that, I know I’m doing something right. “

Harris turned to his guitar to deal with the complexities of the pandemic, racial and political turbulence at the time and created an acoustic record of his compositions.

“He enlisted Libido Funk Circus’ drummer, Dan Milligan and Bassist Mike Czarnik to round out the songs and called the project Jordan Horse, a band name he always wanted to use which happened to match his initials,” Desiree said.

Desiree and Jeff Harris’ original music projects include a number of full length albums recorded with different bands. They have projects on Spotify and Apple Music, including JordanHorse, Libido Funk Circus, The Monday Machine, Traveling Sky, Release, The Joy Thieves, Mary Windows and others.

Libido Funk Circus has performed locally at C D & Me, the Taste of Orland Park, Orland Hills Party In The Park, Orland Park Lions Club Orland Days, Square Celt, 115 Bourbon Street, Disabled Patriot Fund at Gaelic Park, House of Blues, Navy Pier Beer Garden & Grand Ballroom, Hyatt New Year’s Eve Party, London House New Year’s Eve Party, Union League Club of Chicago and at casinos throughout the Chicago area.

The band has opened for Eddie Money, Bret Michaels, The Smithereens, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Martin Short, Spin Doctors, Little River Band, Gin Blossoms and Brian Howe of Bad Company. In 2012, the band released an all-original record titled Roustabouts and Debutantes, which can be found on Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp, YouTube, Apple Music and other streaming services. Three years later,

in 2015, the group released an original country record called Heading West.

When live performances were canceled during the pandemic, Desiree Harris took on a new venture, interior design, with the creation of Desiree Design and Aesthetics.

“Most musicians were forced to pivot their careers during the pandemic so I turned to another creative outlet I had a passion for – interior design,” Desiree said. “I’ve always had an eye for design and ours is a full-service remodeling and design service,” she explained, “We work with people to refresh their space – kitchen, bath, laundry, mudroom, etc., creating a brand new space.”

“All of the members of Libido Funk Circus came out of the pandemic with an even greater appreciation for what we do,” Desiree said, describing the band’s return to live performances. “We loved hearing about the joy we’ve brought to people’s lives. We love what we do and we hope that it shows.”

“It’s our tightness and intuitiveness with each other musically, our camaraderie onstage from 20 plus years of friendship, our chemistry as a unit … THAT is Libido Funk Circus.”

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