When you can’t make it to New Orleans and are craving a heapin’ helping of swinging, Traditional New Orleans Jazz just give Valerie Johnson a buzz.
QUEEN BEE, VALERIE JOHNSON, leads her merry band of KING BEES with her powerful vocals and a command of the stage that she’s honed to a fine art in her 20+ years of crowd pleasing performances.
Valerie Johnson has been a lead singer and band leader with a wide range of acts including Big Brother & the Holding Company Creole Syncopators, New Sound Boogie Band, Golden Eagle Jazz Band, Alcatraz Angels, Valerie Johnson & the Blues Doctors, Bitburg Gospel Messengers.
Valerie Johnson is also a well known music educator having developed and led, for ten years, the Blues for Kids interactive performance and workshop on the history of Blues, Jazz and Gospel Music. She has also been a Resource Music Teacher, since 1999, for grades K through 12 in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Big Sur School Districts.
HER KING BEES include:
JEFFREY ALLAN – our reed Superman, on Clarinet and Saxophone.
Jeffrey Allan, a California native, has been playing Traditional New Orleans Jazz for 42 years. He was a band leader and played with the Fink Street Five, British Connection, San Juan Jazz Rascals and many more.
He learned the original way performing Traditional New Orleans Jazz because he was brought up by the originators of this Jazz by the musicians that played with Buddy Bolden, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few.
Mixing his great leadership style and passion for Traditional New Orleans Jazz Jeffrey Allan has been instrumental in passing his beloved music on to next generation in the same way it was passed on to him.
Generous with his time, Jeffrey Allan is devoted to training youth in the original style of Traditional New Orleans Jazz and never misses a beat when it comes to supporting and encouraging any interested young person.
His music has taken him to Japan, Mexico and throughout the Western United States.
JUSTIN AU – our award winning Trumpet player.
Justin Au is a product of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society’s jazz education program (Jazz Camp). In high school he garnered Best Trumpet awards at various music festivals, performed in honor jazz ensembles and was awarded an Honorable Mention at the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition at Lincoln Center.
Justin Au has toured Japan, Brazil, and China with school jazz ensembles and the Sacramento Youth Symphony, and continues playing trumpet/ cornet with the University Jazz Band and jazz combos at Cal Poly where he majors in City and Regional Planning.
During the school year, he also performs with Clam Chowder, Red Skunk Jipzee Swing, and leads the Hotshots sponsored by the Basin Street Regulars Jazz Club in Pismo Beach. When on a break from school, Justin Au performs modern and traditional jazz in the Au Brothers and Friends.
Justin Au has been a guest trumpeter with the Creole Syncopators, Polly’s Hot Paupers, Cell Block 7, the Clinicians, and Ron Cunha’s Big Band, and also performed in the Folsom, Monterey, Reno, Sacramento and Santa Cruz Jazz Festivals.
RICK HOLZGRAFE – Trumpet & Trombone
Rick Holzgrafe is a California native and has played trumpet since 3rd grade. He got hooked on Traditional New Orleans Jazz in high school and in college learned trombone so he could play with the Fink Street Five.
Since then he’s played with the Milenburg Chamber Ensemble, the Apex Jass Band, the Mission Gold Jazz Band, and Ted Shafer's Jelly Roll Jazz Band.
When not playing jazz Rick Holzgrafe is a software engineer who’s been married 25 years, with two kids and an uncountable numbers of cats (actual felines, not band members!).
Al B. Blue – Rhythm section, banjo and guitar.
Al B. Blue's reverence and obvious enjoyment for Traditional Jazz shows when plays. Al B. Blue began his musical journey as a classically trained pianist and street corner doo-wop singer in New Jersey.
After moving to California, he picked up the guitar and soon made a name for himself which landed him a position in a blues band touring the infamous “chitlin’ circuit”. Touring the “circuit” introduced Al B. Blue to Traditional New Orleans Jazz which so inspired him that be dedicated himself to learning the banjo and the rest, as they say, is history. Al B. Blue’s musical adventures have taken on tours throughout the United States and Thailand.
Al B. Blue is also Valerie Johnson’s right hand man when they take the Valerie Johnson Presents: Blues for Kids workshops on tour throughout the United States. Valerie Johnson and Al B. Blue are also part of a Blues Presentation at the Smithsonian Institute. Besides helping kids discover their musical passion, Al B. Blue is committed to doing his part in keeping these great musical styles alive by teaching children the history of blues, gospel and Traditional New Orleans Jazz.
ELITA CHAFFIN – Upright Bass.
Sandwiched between her mother, Nonie Chaffin, a well known West Coast Accordion musician, and her daughter, Molly Reeves, Central Coast based singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitar player of the Redskunk Jipsee Swing Band, Elita Chaffin is working diligently to carve out her own unique place in the music world. She studied vocal arts for many years but it was when she began playing upright bass as a means to accompany herself on vocals in the practice room that her musical journey began to really take shape. She is thrilled to be making sweet music as a worker bee in Valerie's hive.
BOB VINCENT – Washboard & comic relief.
Bob Vincent is the washboard player extrodinaire! No, really! You have to see and hear him to believe it.
He has been playing jazz and swing with all kinds of bands for nearly 60 years! Bob Vincent’s early career was all about Dixieland music, but he has been dedicated to playing Traditional New Orleans Jazz over 20 years.
Bob Vincent and his washboard have entertained audiences in California, Arizona, Canada, Japan and Germany.