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The Band
John Conley
Guitar

Bio and picture to come....

 
Robert Jacobs
Accordion

Robert Jacobs, born in Brooklyn, NY, began accordion lessons at the age of 9, and later he studied piano in high school.   Robert inaugurated his professional music career at the early age of 14, when he and fellow musicians formed a band to play for dances and private parties in New Jersey and in the Catskill Mountain resorts.  During this time Robert played familiar pre-Beatles rock n’ roll tunes like Love Potion Number 9 and Wipeout to swing tunes such as Caravan and the theme from Peter Gunn.  After hearing the Dave Brubeck Quartet in concert in 1963, jazz became Robert’s musical obsession. In 1964, Robert and his band had the honor of playing at the World’s Fair in New York City at the New Jersey Pavilion.  Robert continued to pursue his passion and studied with jazz accordionist Pat Cantarella and jazz pianists/educators Harold Danko and Marc Copland. Later on Robert presided over many a musical caucus at the White house, including various Presidential Inaugural parties while living in Washington, D.C.   His first inaugural was that of Nixon in 1968. In 1972, Robert played for both “parties” at the National Democratic Club.   A double header followed in 1977, when Robert played both before and after the inaugural gala at the Kennedy Center for Jimmy Carter’s inaugural.  For Reagan, Robert didn’t play any official functions but led a 10 piece ensemble for private pre-inaugural party at the Corcoran Art Gallery. These are only a few of his presidential musical encounters – shall we write him in? Of Robert’s many major influences, he notes Art Van Damme on accordion along with pianists Bill Evans, Nat King Cole, Wynton Kelly, Errol Garner, John Lewis, Jimmy Rowles, Dave Brubeck to name a few. In addition to playing with Gypsy Roots today, Robert plays piano engagements, teaches music, and has his own law practice.

 
Thomas Wakefield
Guitar

At age five, piano lessons were a weekly staple in Thomas’ life. At age ten the trumpet was added to his studies as the primary instrument, and it was during this time that he discovered two of his lifelong influences: Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. By the age of fourteen, the teenage rock-n-roll bug had bitten him. Thomas purchased his first guitar after years of peeking into his father’s Gretsch guitar case and ogling the old Martin that sat on a stand beside the piano. Like many teens, he explored the popular music of his peers, but his true interest laid in improvisational jazz and blues. Largely self taught, he studied as much jazz theory and technique as he could find, thoroughly immersing himself in the styles of the great guitar artists by ear and transcription. Before leaving high school, the fledgling guitarist had won an award for his performance at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival. Through college, Thomas composed and performed with the regional rock and roll band, Hit and Run, as well as Kingfish Crawl, a local blues favorite. As an anthropologist, one of his primary focuses is ethnomusicology, and he has extensively studied the BATA drumming of Cuba and its roots with the Lukumi’s music of western Nigeria. In recent days he has redirected his ethnomusicological gaze to gypsy swing and jazz manouche. It is within this marriage of music and anthropology that Thomas has found his mission! Thomas continues to compose and teach private lessons, workshops and instructional clinics. In addition, he has designed and performed a number of special lecture/performances for schools and universities that focus on the history and culture of Gypsy swing and early blues and jazz. Thomas is the owner of and principal instructor at Ashland Music Academy, Director of Music at Benedictine High School, and contributing author/journalist for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Thomas has been a Dell’Arte guitar endorser, performed at the Stonehaven Folk Festival in Scotland, and most recently was nominated for the 2009 Virgina Commission of the Arts’ Heritage Award.

 
Larry Lyles
Violin

Larry began his music studies at the age of eight.  A graduate of East Carolina University, Florida, and Virginia.  In addition to running his private teaching studio, Larry has performed with the Petersburg Symphony, Northern Neck Symphony, and the Williamsburg Symphony, as well as numerous weddings and other special events.  As one of the top jazz violinists in Virginia, Lyles credits his success to the influences of Stefane Grappelli, Regina Carter, and especially the late Joe Kennedy Jr., who personally encouraged Larry to nurture his talents in his musical genre.

 
Rusty Farmer
Bass

Rusty Farmer is a native of Richmond where he has been performing since his early teenage years.  He continued to pursue his love of music while studying at Virginia Commonwealth University where he completed his Bachelors of Music Degree in Jazz Studies.  While at VCU he studied with Clarence Seay, Mark Bernat, Paul Langosch, Victor Dvoskin, Doug Richards, Paul Bedell, and John D’earth.  As a teacher Rusty has been giving private electric bass guitar and string bass instruction in the Richmond area for over fifteen years.   He joined the teaching studios at Richmond Music Center in 1999.  His goals as instructor is to motivate, inspire, and educate the total musician.  He is well versed in music theory, improvisation, as well as various styles of music.  As a performer, rusty had the privilege to accompany John Patykula, Charlie Mosser, and Kevin Harding by touring in Peru where they gave a master class and preformed several concerts.  In April 2007, Rusty had the opportunity to perform with Quatro na Bossa in Dizzy’s Club at the Lincoln Center in New York City.  Locally, he has performed in the musicals, Blues in the Night, Mame,  Red Hot and Cole at the Barkesdale Theater and beauty and the Beauty and the Beast with Theater IV.  Rusty enjoys playing in the musical genres of jazz, Classical, country, folk, rock, pop, the music of Cuba and Brazil, and many others.  He has played with Old School Freight Train, Stephanie Nakasian and Hod O’Brien, Quarto na Bossa, Harry Allen, Kyle Davis, Spectrum, Liz Sineath, Skip Gailes, Nate Smith, Steve Kessler, John D’earth, Bob Hallahan, Royce Campbell, Used Carlotta, Louis Ledford, Anthony Dowd, Robert Jospe, Inner Rhythm, and many others.  He has recorded for Used Carlotta “Reckless Wheels” Louis Ledford “reverie”, The Children’s Miracle Network “A Time for Miracles” volumes 1 &2, Jackie Frost “cold Lonely Blues”, Quarto na Bossa “Summer Samba”, Kenny Epps’ Native Son “Sunrise”.  Rusty currently plays with the Jackie Frost Ensemble, Gypsy Roots, Terri Simpson Trio, John Conley Trio, Tommy Witten Trio, Mills Family Band, Emme St. James, Quatro ma Bossa, and the  Butterbean Jazz Quartet.  You can see him perform with the worship band at the Commonwealth Chapel  on Sundays, the Butterbean Jazz Quartet every  Sunday night at Bottoms Up Pizza in Scockhoe Bottom, and with the Terri Simpson Trio every Friday night at the Hardshell Restaurant.  To hear samples of his ensembles, please check out his website; www.rpfmusic.net. Rusty and his wife Susan reside in Richmond. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, traveling, target practice, and watching 24. They have a dog named Tootie and three cats, Zomari, Tibia, and Yellow.

 


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