Jeff Watson & Downtown Band

Before the Blues Brothers, before the Big Chill, before the Commitments, there was Downtown.  Anticipating the resurgence of classic R&B and the soul explosions of the 1960's, a group of talented singers, musicians and songwriters established a musical powerhouse with a revolving door. Through that door came musicians of every stripe who had two things in common:  Great talent and a love for soulful music.  Their graduates really went somewhere: A guitarist to The Eagles (Steuart Smith), a bass player to Bruce Springsteen (Jim Hanson), a drummer to Pink Floyd (Timm Biery). 

The players come and go, but the influence of this group on contemporary music continues, as does their strong support of a great American musical heritage.  And, the nice thing is, they’re still going strong and can play at your event. Like most great vintages, they travel well.

Click on band member’s button to see their complete bio.


Jeff Watson
Lead Vocals


Musicians in Washington, New York and L.A. agree this is the singer you've heard about that can "sing the phone book," and get an encore.  Two decades of singing soul standards with Downtown have honed an uncanny ability to reach the heart of any song and the souls of the great rhythm and blues singers and present the music in a reverent yet original format.  A recording artist since his teens (Capital Records, Columbia Records, Sceptre Records, and more recently, Columbia Sony), his technical skills have been recognized by Clio, Grammy and Tony award winning producers; both the Democratic and Republican parties (his list of campaign songs for winning nominees is impressive); and legendary jazz, pop and R&B performers.

In addition to Downtown and his recording calendar, Jeff enjoys performing with the Texas Chainsaw Horns and with his friends, Steve Hudson, guitarist and comedian, and keyboardist/vocalist, Ed Lambert in a popular Washington trio, Lambert, Hudson, and Watson.


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Mickey "Way" Jones
Electric and Acoustic Guitars; Lead and Background Vocals 


Son of country and western guitar player Herb Jones, Mickey's musical epiphany occurred at the age of 5 when he accompanied his father and country great, Jimmy Dean, to a television studio in Washington, D.C. and watched them play with Elvis Presley.  Four decades later, music is still is passion.  He is what musicians refer to as a "triple threat”:  powerful performer, excellent vocalist, and a guitarist of great skill.  Off stage, he spends most of his time in Lost River, West Virginia, with his wife, Patricia, writing songs for other artists and publishers.  2004 was a boom year for his song writing career, but you only have to see him play to know that the performing stage is his natural element.


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Bobby Fagel
Drums 


For timing and dynamics, Mr. Fagel has few equals in the business.  For humor and the driest of wit, his has none at all.  If you doubt it, just visit his web site (Texas Chainsaw Horns), and get on his hilarious e-mail list.  The real pleasure of knowing Bobby, however, is playing with him in Downtown, and his 11-piece music extravaganza, the Texas Chainsaw Horns.  Bandleader Jeff Watson says, "I've worked with great drummers:  Elvin Jones, Bernard Purdie, Allen "Chip" White; I wouldn't trade Bobby for any of them.  Without him, either my career or I would have been dead years ago.  I love the guy."  A native of Canada, he now resides in Reston, Virginia, with gorgeous and talented wife, vocalist, Rena Ray.  Lucky guy.


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Scott "Big Daddy Love" Thorne
Bass Guitar and Vocals 


An accomplished practitioner of 4 and 5 string and fretless bass, Big Daddy Love is famous for a big, comfortable groove reminiscent of Motown legend James Jamerson and Stax Volt/Memphis giant Donald "Duck" Dunn.  His mellow baritone voice matches his personality perfectly, making him an unparalleled performance package.

Big Daddy Love also brings to the table extensive studio experience and advanced degrees in sound engineering and studio technique.  He and his wife, actress/singer Donna Winchester Thorne, are raising a new generation of performers in Leesburg, Virginia

Mr. Thorne also plays with Jeff and Bobby in the Texas Chainsaw Horns.


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Sonny Petrosky
Bass, Vocals 

Like Mickey, Sonny has enjoyed an early advantage in his career: his father was a respected drummer and music lover; his uncle was legendary D.C. bass player John Herbert.  Sonny's incredible skill and versatility prove that talent doesn't always skip a generation. 

One of the best bass players on the East Coast, he enjoys the respect and affection of his peers for his soulful vocals and amazing chops on fretted and fretless instruments.  When he can't stand to leave his family, he subs out his job to wildly popular Washington bassist, Scott "Big Daddy Love" Thorne (Texas Chainsaw Horns) or Scott Ambush, brilliant bassist of internationally renowned jazz ensemble, Spyro Gyra.


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Mookie Siegel
Keyboard and Accordion 


Mookie plays keyboards and accordion and resides in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been performing and recording with national and area musicians and bands for over 20 years. Some notable long term associations with regional acts include: The Lone Starlet Band, Billy Kemp and the Paradise Rockers, Kevin Johnson and the Linemen, The Grandsons, Section 8, Mambo Combo, Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, Solar Circus, Living Earth, and many others. Some of the more nationally known projects that he is currently or was previously involved in are:

David Nelson Band - For the last eight years and through four CDs on High Adventure Records, Mookie continues to perform around the country with the former New Riders of the Purple Sage and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band's guitarist, David Nelson. David was the singer of the New Rider's biggest hit and counter culture anthem, Panama Red.

Phil Lesh and Friends - In the summer of 1999 and on other occasions Mookie performed with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh in his popular post Grateful Dead endeavor. The ensemble's revolving cast at the time included drummers Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead) and John Molo (Bruce Hornsby and the Range), Guitarists Barry Sless (David Nelson Band, Kingfish), Steve Kimock (Zero), David Nelson (New Riders of the Purple Sage), and Robben Ford.

Bob Weir's Ratdog - In 1996-97 Mookie was a member of Grateful Dead guitarist/ singer/ songwriter Bob Weir's post Grateful Dead project, Ratdog, which included Bassist Rob Wasserman and legendary Chuck Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson.

Kingfish - Although the group is currently dormant, Mookie has been a longtime member of this legendary San Francisco band from 1992 until present. Originally formed as a side project by the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir in the mid 70's, it went on to have a life of it's own with Weir occasionally rejoining the fold. Their 1999 studio release included contributions by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and many other notables from the San Francisco music scene.

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - Mookie briefly joined the group in 1991 as they were promoting their hit single, I'm Seventeen, off their then new Columbia Records release, Guitar Trouble.


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Dan Leonard
Lead and Rhythm Guitars


Dan began playing guitar at the age of sixteen and through hard work and experience has matured into one of the most sought after freelance and studio guitar players in the area. Dan honed his skills in college while studying classical guitar and composition. He was the winner of the Mid Atlantic Great Guitar Search and has received acclaim from the Songwriters Association of Washington. He won first place in 1998 for Best Jazz/New Age song, and in 1999 was recognized with honorable mentions for three of his compositions from his solo release, Time Alone. His discography includes credits with such artists as Michael Sheppard, Bruce Guttridge, Doug Segree, and Benji Porecki. Dan's studio credits include America's Most Wanted and The Learning Channel. For more info on Dan, check out his site: www.danleonard.com.


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Dan Reynolds
Jazz Piano and Keyboards


Dan Reynolds' diverse performances and recordings have reached enthusiastic audiences world wide . His soulful jazz piano and keyboard work has been heard on recordings and performances with Eddie Harris, Larry Coryell, Najee, Ken Navarro, Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering, Origem, and many others. His own CD's, 1993's Never Alone, 1994's Lifeline, and 1998's To Be Sure (on Never Alone Music) have received several Wammie™ nominations and high acclaim from such publications as Jazz Times, Jazziz, and Italy's New Sounds magazine. The Washington Post calls him "a charismatic entertainer".

Dan was born on April 14, 1963 in Morgantown, West Virginia, and has resided in the Washington, D.C. area since the age of 7, at which time he began his piano studies. A steady regimen of classical training combined with lots of "on-the-job training" in blues and rock & roll bands throughout his teenage years, culminated in a "Music Performance" bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1987. His keen interest in and great enthusiasm for jazz had been growing for several years and he decided upon graduation to pursue his career as a jazz performer and recording artist.


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Joe Kaplowitz
Jazz Piano and Jazz Organ
 

Joe Kaplowitz is a versatile jazz pianist, jazz organist and composer who spent most of his youth growing up in the Washington DC area. He began playing the piano at age seven and was playing piano and tuba professionally by 15. In his youth Joe was a devoted student of his parent’s record collection and was inspired by the music of Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus and many other great jazz musicians. In 1995 he completed his degree in music from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. Joe remained in the northeastern Ohio region for several years and performed regularly with his own trio and was a first call pianist in the area.

In 1996 Joe began to play the Hammond B3 organ. Since then he has been working to find new sounds and to use the instrument in new musical settings. One such setting is a duo with New York percussionist Phil Kester in which musical ideas from around the planet are being infused with improvisation. Joe has returned to live in the Washington DC area. His discography includes a piano trio recording titled Trio Construction.


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Benji Porecki
Keyboards


His artistry is soulful and his approach original and timeless. Benji has always been drawn to jazz and blues and after attending the Berklee School of Music for a semester decided to pursue music full time. He began gigging with three bands simultaneously which provided him a lot of musical diversity. He chose, as his focus, jazz and blues, and then found himself sitting in with musicians like Ron Hollaway, Marshall Keys, and Chuck Brown. His chameleon-like ability to play different styles of music on piano, synthesizer, and organ caught the attention of Severn Records. Benji was offered a record deal and recently released The Rest of My Life. He is currently touring with Pieces of a Dream as well as performing with various other acts.  For information on Benji’s recordings, visit www.Severnrecords.com.


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