NORA CRUZ SEXTET

RHYTHM & BLUES

BAND BIOGRAPHY

 

The NORA CRUZ SEXTET

Nora Cruz - Vocals

Nora Cruz is a superb and electrifying vocalist. With a commanding stage presence and high-energy show, she's a favorite of Santa Cruz and the Bay Area. Whether soaring or sultry, Nora pours her heart into every song. She can rock the house, or touch your soul – all with a confident, elegant ease.

Born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, Nora comes from a family of nine children whose parents originally migrated from Texas. Early on she was drawn to church music, and soon was receiving awards in vocal and choir competitions. Her talent also earned her a scholarship to study Opera at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee.

Nora arrived in Santa Cruz in the summer of '85, and by the next year had formed the Nora Cruz Band. The band debuted at the Catalyst, and has been performing in the bay area ever since. Over her career, Nora has shared the stage with Los Lobos, Chris Cain, The Tubes, Jeff Healey, Buckwheat Zydeco, Al Kooper, Lydia Pense and other national acts.

With musical influences ranging from Maria Callas – to Etta James, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, and T-Bone Walker – Nora and her band are sure to pack the house and dance floor with a spirited evening of Rhythm & Blues and refined Jazz ballads.


Billy Edgell - Rhythm & Lead Guitar

Billy Edgell has been lending his solid rhythm guitar to many local professional bands including Mutha Ship, House Rockers, West Coast Playboys, and the Rhythm Kings. He was raised in the Bay area and began his professional career in music in the early 80's.

Known for both his musical talent and compassionate approach to life, Billy's influences are Steve Cropper, Bobby Womack and Buck Owens.

Billy was key in forming the Nora Cruz Sextet, and has been with the band since its inception in 1986, encouraging Nora to return to the stage after a 10-year hiatus.


Richard Palmer

Richard Palmer, keyboards, guitar, vocals and songwriter has played with such blues greats as Albert King, Johnny Shines, Joe Louis Walker, Elvin Bishop, Luther Tucker, Larry (Texas Flood) Davis, and Robert Lowery.

Richard has also played 2 years with Chris Cain, 9 years with Tommy Castro, plus Nitecry (Monterey Blues Fest Winner 2003) (20 Years), Rene Solis' Lucky 13 (MBBF Finalists 2008), and Kaye Bohler.


Eric Gunn - Drums and Vocals

Eric's ability to “Play for the Song” has kept him busy in the Bay Area for a long time. He has played with acts as diverse as Joe Luis Walker and It’s a Beautiful Day.

“The Nora Cruz Sextet provides me with the challenges of playing the slow torch songs of Billy Holiday as well as the diversity of genres of blues,” says Eric. “I love every minute of it!”

Eric has recorded or performed with members of The David Nelson Band, Charmaine Scott, The Trailerpark Troubadours, Terry Hiatt, Ken Arconte, Lil John Chrisly, The Soul Drivers, The Linkhorns, The Substitutes, Rusty Zinn, Paul Durcette, and Mic Overman.


Keith Milne - Bass Guitar

Originally from Philadelphia, Keith is a veteran of the bay area blues community. Shortly after moving to San Jose in 1973, he became a member of the King Bee band that backed Charlie Musslewhite for two years.

Along with guitarist, Bruce Ferrell, he founded the Soul Proprietors and both musicians went on to become the backbone of the Kaye Bohler band for eight years. While he has broad musical interests, his style is deeply rooted in traditional blues, R&B and Philly soul.

Rich Cowan - Lead Guitar & Vocals

Rich Cowan is a guitar slinger and vocalist supplying his soulful, bluesy lead and slide guitar to the Nora Cruz Sextet.

Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown and the three Kings – Freddie, Albert, and BB – all figure into his funky mix of guitar playing. He's a major fan of the music of New Orleans and also loves to tear it up on slide guitar. Rich has previously played with Jewl’s Blues, Homebrood, The Young Dreads, The Directors, Shake and numerous other popular local bands.

Rich co-wrote the songs on the Jewl's Blues CD “Harp in Heaven”, and has a suitcase full of original tunes for the band to choose from.


Tommy "Tuesday" Maitland - Trumpet

Tommy “Tuesday” Maitland on trumpet is a master of many musical genres from Ragtime to Reggae, Classical to Polka, Funk to Blues, and some not yet invented. The nickname “Tommy Tuesday” came from his tenure as DJ on KFJC at Foothill College back in the late 70's (guess what day of the week the show was?) all while he was playing in two jazz bands at Foothill.

During the 80's he was a member of the funk band O Mighty Isis, but switched to playing reggae in the 90's with Bammie award winners INKA INKA.

More recently Tommy played in Dub F/X and currently performs with the JC Smith blues band. His influences are Miles Davis, Al Hirt, Lee Morgan, the Crusaders and others.