SIERRA ARTS FOUNDATION –ECCS Musician Bios 2020
Joel Ackerson– The Novelists
After studying at the University of Nevada, Reno, Joel put his talent for the musical arts into full effect. Joel currently does songwriting, vocals, and guitar performances for the local band, The Novelists. This four-person band is known for their ability to blend cliffhanger storytelling, multiple lead singers, and their signature four-part harmonies. Equally comfortable acoustic or electric, you’ll find yourself immersed in a number of emotional and dangerous scenes when you listen to The Novelists.
Eric Anderson– The Novelists
Piano-rocker Eric Andersen has been on countless stages across the US following the release of “Backstory” by his group project The Novelists, and is now in support of his second solo disc, “Close To Home.” A quirky and friendly Singer-Songwriter and Pianist, Eric Andersen takes a fresh approach to “pop” music. His style embraces modern storytelling, yet recalls a more classic rock-n-roll vibe. Andersen’s songs are carefully crafted musically and poetically – they are intimate but still epic, sophisticated, yet relatable.
Mike Badinger plays guitar and sings as a solo artist. Often his wife, Linda, will join him on vocals and piano. Mike received a music education at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas. Over the years, Mike has been involved with some big names in the music scene including Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Delirious, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith. In his musical career, Mike has traveled around the world on a 150-city tour with Terry Talbot and has done professional studio work in Los Angeles. In addition to playing as a pro performer all over the region, Mike also currently teaches music in Carson City at Music Lessons Unlimited.
Nancy is a 40 year veteran of the music industry. She holds a BA degree in Music, specifically pipe organ performance from California State University at Northridge. She has spent most of the last years as a performer, playing with Helen Reddy, Ed Bruce and opening for such bands as the Coasters, the Drifters, Glen Campbell, Ronnie Millsap, and others. For the past 14 years, she has been the musical director for a local casino cabernet entertainer. She accompanies a senior chorus, plays with a church choir in Reno as well as Carson City and performs at senior living facilities as well as concerts in Truckee, Sparks and local casinos cabarets.
Fourth-generation saloon player, Chris Bayer studied in the musical school of Desert Rats. He has since traveled the dusty western byways playing music. Chris can blow a mean harmonica while pounding out the two-step on his vintage tin can National Guitar. His music can best be described as Honky Tonk for the hard case old-timer. Chris’ song lyrics describe the unique Nevadan desert with themes of sagebrush and wind using old jazz musical stylings. Chris brings western ragtime guitar and the Wonder Bucket contraption to life–imbuing every note with the rich texture of desert life. Deeply rooted in traditional ragtime, western and swing music, much of their material is original or well stolen. Toe-tapping, lively and hot, there’s nothing like it. Their music fans include western, hot jazz and traditional Americana enthusiasts.
James grew up in South Dakota and fondly remembers that there were always instruments around the house. He started playing bass guitar at 14 and stuck with it throughout his teens and twenties, playing in a variety of bands, from Top 40 to Blues, New Wave to Indie. James took a break from playing in bands from 1990 to 1995 to earn a Bachelor’s in Music Composition and Theory from the University of Minnesota. James had always played guitar as a hobby and began playing solo acoustic gigs when he moved to Reno, Nevada in 1997. He decided to focus on songwriting and recording and bought his first multi-track recorder in 1998. Frustrated by the quality of his home recordings, he decided to go to audio engineering school, and in 2000 attended an intensive, four-month course at the Los Angeles Recording Workshop. Since then, he has worked any number of live audio gigs and works with Michael Eardley at Tanglewood Productions as an audio engineer. “The Charm Of Hugo”, released in 2008 is James Cavanaugh’s second solo album.
Forrest has been playing piano for people since age five when he wrote his first song. After 86 years, he still practices the basics daily to lend a modern flair to Flight of the Bumblebee. Forest earned two degrees in music, leaning toward piano and composition. His knowledge of all the instruments enables him to write full scores that are playable by orchestras and bands alike. Forrest’s experience includes bands of all sizes and types, shows and singles in many settings. Most listeners prefer his soft and simple musical style, however if needed Forrest can play a lively boogie. Most of his usual gigs are composed of memory ballads with occasional tunes from the big band era. By varying slow and lively songs, Forrest feels audiences of all ages are kept attentive.
Music Man Larry Elliott is an entertainer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, comedian and a professional actor. He’s delighted audiences in person on stage all over the country from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York, in addition, is a regular on “Days of Our Lives” TV show and in the Oscar-nominated movie “The Cooler” among his credits. He sings different era styles, from the ’20s to the present, plays piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, foot bass, accordion, banjo, autoharp, and provides a whole bunch of fun percussion instruments for audience participation.
Nick & Tomarra Johnson- Kopasetic
The high tech, down-home husband/wife duo that lives up to the name “Kopasetic”; They love to capture the feeling of these different eras: from Swing; Rock; Country; Folk; to harder-edged music of the 70s–90s (from Aretha Franklin to Led Zeppelin). Kopasetic likes to stay on top of the latest trends using today’s music technology to keep their performance “live” and energetic but tempered with classical training and years of being in “the trenches” of the music industry. Nick holds a Bachelor of Music, specializing in Music Technology/Engineering from the University of Idaho.
Don has been playing the guitar and singing almost all of his life. He first started in high school and played his way through college in the ’60s and ’70s. Don has toured with several bands and worked as a staff guitarist for the “Montrose Opry”, backing such country legions as Hank Locklin and Furlin Husky. Now retired from over 30 years as a school professional, Don continues to play country, “pop” oldies, and the standards of the last several decades.
With 35 years of music gig experience, Sierra Arts is honored to have Joseph playing at our senior centers and care facilities. Joseph played his first paying job at Charlies Oldtimer in Fredonia, NY – words on wall w/ banjo player. He has also played professionally in a 5 piece Top 40 band in the seventies. After this, the bass player and Joseph teamed up to form a duo (Fastbreak Duo). The two played in this duo in lots of weddings, private parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, and clubs throughout western NY until Joe and his wife retired in Reno. Today, Joe plays all kinds of music – country, ballads, classics, whatever his ear allows.
David Kolker- David Lewis
As a native New Yorker and a veteran of the music scene on both coasts, David has played some of the top venues; in New York, to name a few, The World Trade Center, Tavern On The Green, the rainbow room at Rockefeller Center, and the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Aside from playing in Las Vegas and California, He toured the Far East with his band playing for the Air Force on two tours. Along with a degree in music, he plays several instruments and offers strong vocals. David also freelances his talent with several local bands along with his single act. Now residing in Reno, he does special events for the Atlantis spa and casino and the sands regency. He’s appeared at Red Hawk and Montreux Golf Clubs, worked with Sierra Arts Foundation in their Elder Care Program, several local retirement communities, several local wine tasting venues, along with private parties.
Aslam John Nasir– The Piano Man
The Piano Man is self-taught and at the age of 13, he had his first job as a volunteer church pianist. Over the years, he has performed numerous gigs around town and has expanded his genre of music to include music from traditional to contemporary. John has been providing background piano music for over 5 decades for functions that include music for birthdays, business functions, private parties, church services, weddings, Christmas and Holiday Seasonal parties. His repertoire (of over 300+ selections) encompasses light classical and popular favorites ranging from well-known artists such as Presley, Sinatra, Beatles, Hank Williams, and Elton John.
Based in Northern Nevada, Brother Dan Palmer has been entertaining audiences in the region, across the country, and throughout Europe since his mid-teens. An accomplished acoustic guitarist and a passionate and versatile singer, he’s as comfortable in intimate unplugged sessions as he is in large-scale stage performances. With a comfortable and commanding stage presence, Brother Dan draws from his very large and wide-ranging repertoire of songs to connect with people.
John Palmore is a versatile, talented vocalist and keyboardist who entertains diverse audiences throughout northern Nevada and surrounding areas with his soulful music including R&B, Motown, blues, jazz, and gospel John is keyboardist and vocalist who has traveled the world playing for artists such as Jackie Wilson, Mary Wells, ZZ Hill, Wilson Pickett, Joe Simon, Percy Sledge, and The Platters. He was the musical director, keyboardist, and arranger for Bill Pinkney’s “Original Drifters” for many years. before John moved to the Reno area in 1989 and established the Palmore Bros Band. He is currently bandleader for the Palmore Remix Band, keyboardist and vocalist with “Velvet” Duo, and a solo artist.
“Jazzy, earthy, fun and versatile…from vocal jazz standards to pop to holiday music to sing-a-long, Erika sings at the piano with soul and style…” Erika is a career music artist, songwriter and performer on piano and vocals with 12 cd recordings of original songs and jazz standards to her credit. She has been on board as a performing artist for Sierra Arts’ Elder Care Concerts Series since its inception 10 years ago and enjoys performing for hundreds of eldercare facilities concerts in the Reno/Sparks area for the Sierra Arts Elder Care Concert Series program to date.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with deep American roots. His shows feature a tremendous variety of original music combined with a fashionable blend of vintage styles. He mixes virtuosic free-style piano technique with rollicking blues and boogie, liquid 12-string guitar, greasy delta slide, and wry lyrics to make his own brand of Americana, all with the ease that only Colin can assemble.
Alex grew up in Chicago where he learned to play guitar and played in a high school rock band. His influences were the Beatles, Stones, Motown, and Jazz. During his four years in the Air Force, although he didn’t perform, he never lost his passion for music. While stationed in California he learned to snow ski and became an avid skier. So he moved to Lake Tahoe where he resumed his desire to perform music and started working clubs as a single guitar man. In order to diversify his musical skills, he pursued and earned a BA in music at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe. Over the years, Alex has performed with Classic Rock, Country, Bluegrass and Jazz bands in the Reno/Tahoe area. He has also Deejayed hundreds of weddings. In addition, he has performed at various elder care facilities in the Reno/Tahoe area. His main musical passions now are writing and singing songs and playing and singing jazz.
Paul learned his first piano piece from his cousin at age five. Playing it over and over, it brought him great joy to drive his mother crazy. As a teen, he studied with Windham Hill recording artist W. A. Mathieu and renowned vocal coach Judy Davis. Many bands and shows later, Paul moved to Reno. For years he emceed at the Catch a Rising Star comedy club, where he warmed up the audience by pounding the piano, singing silly songs and generally making a fool of himself. He also played every week at the Silver Legacy piano bar for over four years and Roxy’s piano bar for over six years.
Van Vinikow– The String Beings
In 1982 the String Beings played their first wedding. Since then we have grown in popularity and experience. Leader, Van Vinikow has assembled a diverse repertoire that includes popular classical music and classic popular music styles. We cover over 500 years of the world’s most loved and favorite classical melodies. Our acoustic nature frees us to play in a variety of locations, such as churches, parks, backyards, even Tahoe docks. Using only professionally trained musicians from the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, our sound is professional and our professionalism is sound.
Judith Whitenack – Judith Ames Trio
Originally from Milwaukee, Judith has always had a passion for music, from playing classical piano, French horn, and folk guitar in days gone by, to her many years as a church organist, and most recently, as jazz and Latin singer at many UNR venues, and in clubs, restaurants, and senior communities in Reno-Carson-Tahoe, as well as in the Bay Area, Milwaukee, and Madrid. A longtime UNR Spanish professor (under her full name, Judith Ames Whitenack), she was inspired some years ago by the great Detroit saxophonist Rocky Tatarelli to develop her vocal skills. Currently, the two play with many local jazz and dance groups. For the Sierra Arts Eldercare program and Concerts in the Gallery, Judith and Rocky (now married) perform as a trio, quartet, or quintet, along with a rotating cast of great local musicians, favoring standards from the 1930s and 1940s, and a variety of Latin tunes, which Judith sings in the original Spanish and Portuguese. She also sings many tunes in Italian and French.