Doug O'Brien

Doug has been playing banjo and guitar for over 65 years.  In between and around having a "real" job, he has played pizza parlors, bars, traveled with the USO to Vietnam, played traditional New Orleans jazz around the country.  He retired (somewhat) in Tucson and plays in assisted living and memory care facilities and also plays with a Dixieland group called the River Road Ramblers.  Doug is a founding member of the band since 2008, and is still excited to be the de facto "Fearless Leader" of the Blasters and having this much fun!.

Dallas Parker

Dallas was raised on a cattle ranch in South Dakota. His parents were adamant about education and all 4 sons graduated from college.  After earning a PhD at the University of Arizona, in Organic Chemistry, Dallas' worked, until retirement, as a Research Professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. in Polymer Science.  Dallas' whole family played music at all family gatherings and still do today.  He learned the guitar and piano in his early years and the violin in his 20s.  The banjo is a recent addition to his "arsenal of weapons" and has fellow Blaster, Emmett, to thank for that.  Dallas is excited to be a member of the Banjo Blasters and is enjoying himself very much.



Frank Brown

Jerry Taylor

Jerry Taylor plays several string instruments, including: guitar, mandolin, fiddle,  bass, 5 string banjo and now the tenor banjo.  He received his first guitar at age 12 from an uncle who played at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Kentucky. Since then he has played in several bluegrass, country and western swing bands including several years with the Texas Trailblazers of Fort Worth, Texas and the High Desert Band  in Tucson.  He is now enjoying playing and learning a new genre on his tenor banjo with the Blasters.

Arlene Tomlison

Arlene played clarinet during her school days.  At age 60, she decided that it was time to do some of the fun stuff and took piano lessons for a few years. On a trip to Honolulu,  she bought her first ukulele and starting playing.  When the Kala Company came out with the UBass, Arlene started playing the bass ukulele.  She now plays tenor and bass ukuleles with The Ukesters.   She bought a stand up bass and named it "Big Ben".  You will find Arlene and Big Ben at the Desert Bluegrass workshop on Monday nights.  She just recently joined the Arizona Banjo Blasters and is very excited to be playing bass.

Debb Johnson

Debb took piano lessons for about 5 years as a child. She enjoyed making music but did not like to play if anyone was listening, so she did not practice much.  When her husband Bud started playing in the Banjo Blasters, she often sat and listened, singing along with the group. At the Banjo Rendezvous in New Orleans May 2009, she was so impressed with Peter Babcock, the washboard player from the YOUR FATHERS MUSTACHE reunion group that she put together her own  washboard and joined the band. Besides the washboard, she provides other sound effects to enhance the fun songs the Banjo Blasters perform.

Rick Blackmar

Rick bought his first banjo in the ninth grade, took several lessons until other things got in the way and the banjo gathered dust for many years. From 2008 Arizona Banjo Blast and with encouragement from a friend, Preston Jones, Rick got reinvigorated in his life-long desire to learn to play the HAPPY INSTRUMENT.  He is having a great time learning, practicing, and playing with the Arizona Banjo Blasters.

Emmett Gundy

Emmett got his first  banjo in 1934 at the age of 14 after learning to read music on the violin. His first banjo was a Gibson Tenor Banjo which he still has. He did not play much for the next 40 years. In 1982 Emmett moved to Tucson, met other retired people who liked to have jam sessions. For the past 14 years, he has played with the SOUTHERN ARIZONA OLD TIME FIDDLERS.

Elaine Calloway

Elaine started her music career young and with diversity.  In addition to voice, Elaine studied violin, piano, tympani and drums. She played in the Seattle and University of Washingtonsymphony orchestras and attended Western WashingtonCollege and University of Washington on vocal scholarships. Elaine studied Traditional Jazz with Jim Maihack and sang with her own band HOT JASS; for nine years in the San Francisco Bay Area and Scottsdale AZ. Elaine is elated to be singing with the Arizona Banjo Blasters as their RED HOT MOMMA; and just having SO much fun.

AZBANJOBLASTERS

Bud Johnson

Bud, dabbled with the guitar on and off for most of his life and for his own pleasure. He and his wife, Debb, attended the first Arizona Banjo Blast in 2006 and was amazed at the music he heard. What even made more of an impression on him was how much fun everyone was having. A year later Paul Blumentritt of the Folk Shop mentioned that Rob Wright of The Arizona Banjo Blast was looking for some Banjo Players to start a Host Banjo Band to help put on the 2008 Blast. Bud contacted Rob Wright, bought a Plectrum banjo and started learning to play. From that day on Bud has been playing the Plectrum with the Arizona Banjo Blasters and having a fun time learning to play the banjo.

Cheri Spink

Cheri got her introduction to banjo when she hired a banjo band to play in a parade.  She told the band leader that she loved the sound of the banjo. He invited her to a community college class.  She bought the first banjo she saw in a music store and has been playing since. Cheri took lessons from “Banjo-ker Mark” and “Johnny, Wizard Fingers of the Banjo”.  She spent 20 years playing folk music with The Barbwire Twisters in Alaska until she hooked up with Ken "The Flash" Olmstead (Don’t ya just love the stage names?) and started “The Raggedy Banjo’s”.  The Raggedy Banjos enjoyed performing at the Anchorage Folk Festival, the Alaska State Fair and in Ken's living room.  She is very happy to be one of the newest members of the Banjo Blasters!

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Reuben Narramore

Reuben learned rhythm guitar as a youth, playing country western music with family and cousins in some small performances in the Buckeye Valley (west of Phoenix).  His father played a plectrum banjo sometimes, which Reuben always thought was pretty neat.  Circa 2004 Reuben bought a plectrum banjo on a whim, but neglected it until 2013, when he discovered the Banjo Blasters.  As the Blasters are a friendly group that plays a lot of the early jazz and popular music that he likes, he performs and practices with them whenever he can. 

Marj Scooros

Washboard Marj has played dulcimer, guitar, piano, ukulele, and vocal cords. She is a perfect fit for the washboard for she has never been able to keep her feet from tapping nor her hands from beating out the rhythm. Washboard is an early rhythm instrument for trad jazz,when drums were unavailable. Marj has collected, combined and cobbled her various washboards, adding accoutrements as necessary. She figures a washboard is easier than hauling a drum set around. 

Rudy Jimenez

Rudy is a retired Professor of Civil Engineering  from Eureka,Illinois. After he retired from the University of Arizona he started playing music and the tenor banjo. He chose the banjo because he liked the sound of the banjo playing of team drivers in the early westerns.

Ron Hinkle

Ron has been playing the banjo since the age of 12. He and his sister, Linda Hall, learned from their father, Myron Hinkle, who was a long-time professional banjoist and pianist and is a 2009 inductee in the Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame. Ron has been the banjoist for several Trad Jazz groups, and a featured soloist and clinician at banjo shows and Trad Jazz fests throughout the U.S. and Germany. He is a career U. S. Army Bandsman (clarinet, sax, banjo, guitar, ukulele, and vocals), currently stationed at Fort Huachuca with the U.S. Military Army Intelligence Band, where he will soon retire. Today, Ron specializes in the English Parlour Banjo and early Harry Reser

Dennis Walsh

Dennis was always surrounded by  music.  His father was a professional country music musician in the Mid West. Dennis started playing drums in his teens as part of a Rock ‘N Roll band.  Then he inherited a pre-WW2  Paramount  4- string, plectrum banjo - a real treasure.   Dennis being an IBM’er, would use his banjo at IBM motivational meetings.  Additionally, he I took up the bass guitar and  played in country bands. Since retirement Dennis has focused on the bass guitar and banjo and being part of the Arizona Banjo Blasters.

Janis Wheat


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Jill Sooy

Jill took voice and music lessons early in life and played Hootenanny in her teens.  She took up the Baritone and Soprano Ukulele in 2010. She then joined a local ukulele band the Ukesters and enjoys performing with them.  Shortly after, she bought a Ukulele Banjo and started playing with the Desert Bluegrass Association.  Recently, Jill became active member of the Arizona Banjo Blasters and loves their Dixieland Happy Banjo Music.  She's excited to be playing with the Blasters and with the opportunity to  expand her musical horizons into the Banjo Band genre!

Julie Katana

A native Montanan, Julie went off to college and never looked back. She finished a BA at U of Maryland in studio art, with a minor in music. Uh-oh--that was a mistake. Many guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, recorders, tin whistles, keyboards, tambourines, harmonicas, the occasional harp later, Julie is learning not to be so compulsive. Combining the two disciplines (art and music) she became a violin maker, and that really sucked the air out of everything. Luckily, the banjo-mandolin has restored a modicum of sanity, and playing with the Banjo Blasters is the best therapy ever.