CLIFF CONWAY – TENOR/ALTO SAX
A few years back, Cliff had a vision of being in a top notch horn band performing Old-School Memphis Soul and Rhythm & Blues. That vision has been realized with his founding of Stax City. Assembling an excellent group of musicians committed to this music and using classic horn charts has lead Cliff and the band to fill dance floors.
MIKE KAPITAN – KEYBOARD
Mike is a keyboardist, composer, producer, and mix engineer. His background includes decades of work in the studios of Los Angeles working on record, film, multimedia, and national television commercial projects. He played with Thomas Dolby on the Grammy-nominated Aliens Ate My Buick album and worked as a composer for Dolby’s multimedia company as well as Mark Mothersbaugh’s (of DEVO fame) Mutato Muzika. mikekapitan.com
GEOFFREY WHYTE – DRUMS
Geoff began playing at the age of fifteen. One week after one lesson from a friend who acquainted him with reading music, he was called to sub for another drummer. That was the beginning of what was to become Tavares. He has performed with Les Paul, Eddie Harris, Charles McPherson, Richie Cole, Joe Pass and J.J. Jackson (It’s Alright) among others.
TUCKER MCMULLEN – GUITAR
Tucker’s music career began in southern California playing in numerous bands and backing up local folk singers. Tucker moved to Northern California in 1970 and performed in clubs around the San Francisco Bay area. While gigging he met some amazing local talent including Norman (Spirit in the Sky) Greenbaum. He has had the good fortune of sharing the stage with, or been an opening act for such artists as Taj Mahal, Van Morrison, Kate Wolf, Tim Hardin, and others. He has been a member of many local bands including Third Rail, Doc Kraft, and Hot Grubb.
TOM BUCKMAN – BASS
Tom is a versatile Bay Area bassist and vocalist with 50 years professional experience. He is adept on Fender and electric upright bass, handling many musical styles while he “lets it groove”. Tom plays locally with the Jami Jamison Band.
RAY FERNANDEZ – BARITONE SAX
Ray Fernandez has played professionally for 35 years. He has played and toured with The Mad Maggies, The Overcommitments, Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble, and many more. Ray performed in the house band for The San Francisco Mime Troupe’s award winning play Freedomland in 2015 and 2016. Steeped in R&B, soul, funk, rock, and jazz, multi-instrumentalist Ray Fernandez always brings it from the heart.
SCOTT NYGARD – TRUMPET
Scott studied with internationally acclaimed trumpet instructor Claude Gordon and continues his studies with Claude’s protege Jeff Purtle. Some artists he has performed with include Reno Jazz Orchestra, Danny Marona, Chris Calloway, and Kenny Rogers. Since 2000, Scott has played lead trumpet with Santa Rosa Junior College affiliated Wednesday Night Big Band, performing with world renowned jazz artists including Bobby Shew, Bill Watrous, Steve Smith, Alan Vizzutti, and Jon Faddis.
MR. BLACKWELL – LEAD VOCALIST
Music took hold of Willard Blackwell’s life when at the age of 13, he and his singing group took to the stage and placed first in talent shows throughout the San Francisco Bay area. In 1995 he got a call from Gator Beat founder, Richie Domingue. He performed as a singer/drummer for Gator Beat, the West Coast’s premiere Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orleans R&B band until 2003. Today, as the name Gator Beat has been retired, Willard and fellow band mates continue on as Gator Nation Band with Willard on lead vocals and washboard.