Gwyn Beynon is a respected performer, teacher and conductor. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western University and was named to the Faculty of Music Wall of Fame in 2022. Gwyn served as a teacher and principal with the Thames Valley District School Board where he championed music education and directed high school bands that won national and international awards. He also taught at the Western’s Faculty of Education. Gwyn continues to be an active performer, playing trumpet with Brassroots, Big Bandemic, and the London Jazz Orchestra. He is artistic director of Encore: The Concert Band.

Chris Alcantara is a freelance jazz trumpet player in London, Ontario. He co-leads “The Jazz Collective” with Don Di Carlo, which plays at the Richmond Tavern the third Monday of every month, and co-leads “The Nine” with Josh Hung, a nine-piece band that is dedicated to original arrangements and jazz improvisation. 

 

 

Dave Cunningham has played trumpet since grade 8 and began his career as a high school music teacher. He’s enjoyed being part of many of the terrific musical organizations in the London area, including the Moonliters, the London Jazz Quintet,  the Barclay Road Brass Works, The Plumbing Factory Brass Band and of course, Big Bandemic! He even had the privilege of conducting Orchestra London’s education concerts for 3 1/2 years. 

Alexa Brown is a passionate musician with a love for performing. She recently earned her BMus Performance degree from Western University. From an early age, Alexa exhibited an innate ability and fascination for music, embarking on a long musical journey that eventually led to solidifying her commitment to the trumpet and a career in music.

She is proficient in a variety of instruments, and her versatility as a musician extends to various genres. In addition to her career as a performer, Alexa has a passion for sharing her knowledge and expertise with aspiring musicians and also does some arranging and transcribing in her spare time.

Alexa is committed to pushing the boundaries of her playing and making a lasting impact on the world of music, regularly rehearsing and performing in the London area.

 

Paul Stevenson has been the Principal Trumpet with Brassroots since 1988. He regularly plays with Orchestra London and the Fanshawe Symphonic Chorus. 

He has performed with such artists as the Temptations, Diana Krall, Allen Frew, Rick Emmitt, Larry Gowan, Della Reese, Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons and most recently with Natalie Cole. Paul performed his second show, “Brassed Off II” in “Jeans and Classics” series with Orchestra London. 

He has also been featured as a soloist with Intrada Brass of Oakville. He holds a Masters Degree in Performance from the University of Western Ontario and is a retired secondary school music educator with the Thames Valley District School Board. Paul is currently working on his Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) at the University of Western Ontario.

 

Brian Bangs started trombone in the 7th grade, continuing through to the end of high school, performing in jazz bands, and both band and orchestra in his final year.  He regularly joined choral and band community groups, and in his earlier years, live stage performances of productions such as Joseph. Over the last 25 years, he has been part of the LJO, playing bass trombone and  more recently has also joined with the Big Bandemic, rehearsing and performing for the community. He has been teaching for over 25 years, and looks forward to retiring soon to spend more time with music and in his love of sports.

David Phillips started playing Trombone at the age of 9. His first professional gig was touring with a Bar band at the age of 16. David is a graduate of UWO in Music Performance. David studied with The Canadian Brass, while attending The Banff School of Fine Arts.  While still a student at Western David subbed in Orchestra London. After graduating from Western David moved to Toronto and was a freelance trombone player for 9 years. He has performed with the Toronto Symphony, The Nation Ballet Orchestra, Hannaford Street Silver Band, and The Kitchener Waterloo Symphony. Other playing experiences have included Pit Orchestras and various Brass Ensembles. After returning to London David has continued playing trombone in various groups including Encore The Concert Band, Primetime Bigband, Ivey League Convocation Bigband, London Community Orchestra, Moonliters Bigband, Big Bandemic and other freelance jobs including playing in the backup band for Aretha Franklin at the JLC.

On saxes is Scott Edwards. 1940’s and ‘50’s Rhythm and Blues was Scott’s first musical inspiration. He studied Classical saxophone at UWO , where he was a member of the Jazz Ensemble for four years. His playing experience has encompassed many styles, from Classical music to travelling on the road with a rock band. Until the pandemic, he was heading stateside from time to time as a sideman with his friends, the Soul Bros., a Canadian Blues Bros. tribute act. Scott has been a regular member of several of London’s Big Bands, including the London Jazz Orchestra and Big Bandemic. His saxophone influences span the range of Rhythm and Blues jazz, blues and rock, particularly including Ben Webster, Willis Jackson, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins.

 

George Laidlaw is a very active London musician performing on saxophone, clarinet and flute. He has led his own jazz big band, the Vimy Legion Band, his own jazz quartet and is a sideman in several other London ensembles. He loves playing classical and jazz music of all styles and has also performed with symphony orchestras. He is a retired high school music teacher and has been on the staff the UWO Faculty of Music. His jazz big band recently recorded a Mel Torme tribute with Grammy winning artist Matt Alber

 

Laura Jasper is an accomplished woodwind player. With a fulltime career as a nurse, she enjoys music performance in her spare time. She is involved in many community ensembles including the Thames Clarinet Choir and the Jazzabelles. Laura has been privileged to have been part of the Big Bandemic since its inception during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also performed at many private and community events over the past 30 years. Laura would like to thank her husband, Tom Pietrangelo (pianist and music educator), for his many years of support and musical inspiration. Keep calm and play on!

 

Bruce Reid’s actual first public gig on sax was with the CCH Stage Band in 1977.   At the age of 18, he played on stage at the world-famous Stork Club in Port Stanley. After university he took a long musical hiatus while pursuing a career in IT.  He jumped back in in the mid 2000s. He has played sax and clarinet in a variety of ensembles in town including The London Concert Band and The London Clarinet Choir. While pursuing his love of jazz and swing, he’s performed with such big bands as Sophisticated Swing, Swing Shift, The London Moonliters and he is one of the original members of Big Bandemic.  Some smaller ensemble work includes The London Jazz Sextet and The Marque Smith Combo. In addition to these, he started his own quartet in 2017 , The Reid Quartet, which has played at a variety of local venues  such as Michael’s On the Thames, Delta Armouries, the Old Courthouse, Sunningdale Golf Course and Bayfield Town Hall. Among his non-musical interests, this retired-but-active “I.T. Guy” still like to code, has a private pilot’s license and is an avid scuba diver, and diving instructor.

 

Liam Bird is a fourth-year saxophone performance major at Western. He enjoys playing the saxophone in range of styles from concertinos to Duke Ellington. Aside from playing the saxophone, he can also play clarinet, string bass, and French horn. Liam currently plays with the Western University Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and as of this year Big Bandemic!

 

John Kenny is one of the busiest and most in demand musicians in the London area. Proficient in country, rock, pop and jazz, he has toured theatres and nightclubs across Canada (all 10 provinces) and the U.S. with various artists. He is probably the only musician in the business who has shared the stage with both the Duke Ellington Band and TVO’s Polkaroo! John has taught guitar and bass to hundreds of students, both privately and at Fanshawe College. 

 

Greg Mainprize taught music at Strathroy District Collegiate Institute for over thirty years. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario. He teaches privately and freelances around London with several groups, including the former Orchestra London, the Big Bandemic, the Baddest Big Band, the London Jazz Orchestra, The Voices of Broadway, the London Percussion Trio, and with singer Denise Pelley. He has been in the pit for many musical productions in the London area. Though in demand as a jazz drummer, Greg enjoys all areas of percussion and has been percussion faculty at the National Music Camp for over twenty years.

Ron Nauta has a rich musical background and brings a great deal of talent to a broad spectrum of performance groups. He is the chief in-group arranger/adapter for the instrumental charts for Take 3. He studied recording/engineering at Fanshawe College and has worked with many musicians over the years as a vocalist and as a keyboard player – accomplished at piano, organ and synthesizer. Over many years he has performed extensively with dance and show bands Persuasion, Tanis, Fantasy, Venus, Shadow, and The Jennifer Sterling Quartet. More recently he has been an active member and composer with smooth jazz group Parallax and is director of A Group of Seven, a new performance group with combined arrangements for both vocals and instruments including a variety of music i.e. Steely Dan, Toto, Donald Fagan, Manhattan Transfer, Chick Corea. He has recently released the first CD of his own material called ABOUT TIME. Ron has been playing in Big Bandemic for several years.

 

 

Jim Smythe is a graduate of Western’s Faculty of Music. He was a former music educator for the Thames Valley Board of Education and instrumental instructor at Western’s Faculty of Education. Jim is an active musician in the London region on both tuba and electric bass. Audiences may see him accompanying multiple choral organizations or playing in some of London’s finest Big Bands, including the London Jazz Orchestra, Big Bandemic Band and in Encore, The Concert Band.

 

Karl Hermann has been playing his trombone for 4 decades. A graduate of UWO, Karl taught high school music for many years, and also received a Masters of Music Education from Loyola University in New Orleans.  Karl has been an active freelance trombone (and euphonium) player in the London area.  He has played with many groups such as Brassroots (he was a founding member!), Orchestra London, International Symphony Orchestra, Encore, Big Bandemic, and several other “big bands.”  After many years of flying a plane “for fun” Karl decided to become a professional pilot.  These days Karl is “semi-retired” doing some supply teaching, and also flying jets all over the world. 

John Thompson has played music ever since he was able to trade Piano for Trombone in High School Montreal.  After his musical education completed in Ottawa, he joined the Governor General’s Foot-guards band.  A move with his parents to the Air Force Base at Trenton led to his first experience with commercial playing in a 6 piece group that played for many Air Force events.  After taking lessons for a season with Harry Stevenson from the University of Toronto, John decided that a career in mathematics and computers would be a better life choice than a full time music career, so he went to London to attend the University of Western Ontario to get a degree in Mathematics and ended up graduating on the Dean’s Honor List.

After a nomadic childhood due to his Dad’s career in the Canadian Air Force (11 different schools in 13 years) John was ready to settle down when he moved to London.  Graduation brought a work lifelong career in Computers with London Life Insurance Company and a sideline music career in London.  The sideline music helped pay for the down payment for his first house. 

John played for many years in the Casa Royal Orchestra with Lionel Thornton (averaging over 100 gigs each year), followed by stints with the Modernaires with Ron Shadbolt and Jim Davey, several of the Phil Murphy bands and several of the Johnny Bond Big Bands in Sarnia.  He played in the Basically Basie Big Band headed by Jim Davey for its entire existence in the late 90’s.  Over the years he played in the many Doug Keenan bands, including the MardiGras Clown Band and the MardiGras Xmas Band.  He has played at many of the Western Fair Grandstand shows as well as Stage 10 and the many Circus’s that passed through.  Miscellaneous gigs included the Ice Capades, the Grand Theatre, the Beal Theatre programme musicals and the Ivey Business School annual commencement ceremonies.  He played with the Can-Am Orchestra at the Governor General’s Canada Day garden party and with the Ambasadors of Music on a musical performance tour of Cuba and with the inaugural performances of the Herencia Latina Latin Band.

In addition to helping form and run the 17-piece Big Bandemic Big Band, John currently plays regularly in the Moonliters big band, the Music Makers Little Big Band (a Jazz Octet), Encore… the Concert Band, the Dixie 5 and Friends Dixieland Band and frequently subs in the Uptown Dixieland Jazz Band, the London Jazz Orchestra big band, the Jacob and the Blues Busters septet among others.  Over the years, John has backed some big names, including, Al Hirt, Wayne Newton, Nancy Wilson of the Supremes, Gordie Tap and many others.

John often carts his Trombone on many of his vacation travels and has played in Barbados, France, Germany, Cuba, Jamaica, on an Alaska Cruise, a Danube River Cruise and a Trans-Atlantic Cruise.  He is also an avid long distance cyclist, having bicycled well over 100,000 KM since the 1980’s.

John is married and has two children, a son working in Insurance Marketing for Manulife in Southwest Ontario, and a daughter working in a Financial Services Brokerage in Mitchell.  Five grandchildren complete the family.