Leona (lead Vocals)
My inspiration in music was my own mother's singing in our kitchen, and the local church choir. We didn’t have a TV in a hippy household which meant a fairly eclectic mix of music passing through my ears, and a love of jazz and blues developed. Since some Dutch courage at an open mic night, I have performed with various musicians and singing to an audience still brings its challenges, but has hopefully inspired two of my children in their dreams of a musical career. My musical hero’s are artists such as Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, with a sprinkling of Ella, not too shabby a standard to aspire too.
After a break of 40+ years (girls and cars came along!) I returned to playing keyboards about 15 years ago. I studied initially under renowned local jazz pianist Bob Hudson and more recently Kent Hewitt, an American performer. I teamed up with a saxophone playing friend we formed a 5 piece band playing light jazz and blues performing at various venues for weddings, birthdays, and festivals. After several changes in line-up and meeting experienced player Mike, the ‘HopYards’ band was formed continuing to play at functions in the local area. I am keen to continue entertaining audiences with music he would describe as ‘Lounge Bar’ style jazz and blues.
I would describe myself as an Old school bass player, with many years experience on Double bass, Electric 5 string bass and acoustic guitars. I have performed with a wide variety of artistes and bands over the years including, Quintessence, Graham Bond, Sonny Terry & Brownie Maghee, Cisco, King biscuit blues band, Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges and Don Reeves Country band. In my youth I toured extensively in Europe and USA with many of these musicians.
I have been playing the saxophone from a youngster. I have developed my range by performing with several rock, blues and jazz groups. I specialise in alto saxophone and model my sound on some of the great smooth jazz saxophonists including Grover Washington, Maceo Parker, David Sanborn and Candy Dulfer.
I started my drumming life at University when I was given an old drum kit by a friend. I played in various bands in his student days in the post-punk and new wave styles of the day. After University drumming took a sideline and was not really taken up seriously again until 10 years ago when I vowed to learn the instrument 'properly'. For the last couple of years I have been playing with a local funk soul and disco band and more recently joined The Hopyards, to extend his repertoire to include jazz and blues. We never stop leaning, especially on the drums and I describe myself as a 'mid-life crisis' drummer.