40 TOP MUSICIANS FROM CONTRA COSTA COUNTY

They Came From All Over To Entertain Us

This is a list of 40 Top Musicians that have lived or are living in Contra Costa County. It was started with names from two musicians Frankie G and Patrick Dorn, research did the rest.

List can be improved. There are no “hip-hop artists” or young “garage bands” and musicians were just overlooked.

You don’t need to be a recording star to be included. Entertaining in Contra Costa County matters. Peer respect, artistry, and creativity are important.

Follow the link to suggest a musician (or at the bottom of the page). The first condition is they must live or have lived in Contra Costa County.

 

 

Darryl Anders

Antioch, CA
R&B/Jazz Bass Player

Darryl started with the trumpet in the third grade and moved onto bass as a 14-year-old after hearing Brothers Johnson’s bassist Louis Johnson on “I’ll Be Good to You.”

Self-educated he believed he had what it takes to be a professional when he figured out how to play Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues.”

Darryl has worked with Tower of Power, Bonnie Hayes, Meters drum legend Zigaboo Modeliste, to name a few.

He has also worked on best selling products like Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band.

His latest CD Darryl Anders AgapeSoul “Conversations” has two #1 singles and a top ten single.

Photo Courtesy of Darryl Anders

Billie Joe Armstrong

Rodeo, CA
Lead Guitar Player/Songwriter

Armstrong attended Hillcrest Elementary School in Rodeo. Carniquez Middle School and John Swett High School, in Crockett. Also, Pinole Valley High School, in Pinole.

Met Mike Dirnt, future bass player for Green Day in elementary school, formed a band as a 14-year-old. Later became GREEN DAY.

Their third album, DOOKIE, 1993 broke through into the mainstream and sold 60 million records.

They still tour worldwide.

Bio  |  Website

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Chuck Billy

Antioch, CA
Metal Thrash Band Vocalist

Billy, joined the Legacy band in 1986. Changed the name to Testament in 1987. He remains one of two original members of the band.

They’ve released 10 studio albums and tour consistently. His vocal style has changed over the years from, high pitch thrash to a lower death grunt sound.

In 2013 California State Assemblyman Jim Frazier honored Billy on the State Assembly floor for his positive influence on the Native American community.

Cancer survivor. Has lived in Antioch and Discovery Bay.

Bio  |  Band  | Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Chuck Billy


Brett Bloomfield

Antioch, CA
Rock 'n Roll Bass

In the early 80’s Brett played with a popular local “garage band” band Flat Nasty at clubs like Baby Simon’s in Antioch.

March 30th, 1986 Brett got the call from his friend Mickey Thomas to join the Starship Tour. This began tours of the USA, Europe, and South America.

One of the biggest highlights for Bret was performing on the Academy Awards Show in 1987… The song ” Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now” was nominated for best song that year.

I wonder how many times he’s played We Built This City, Fooled Around And Fell In Love, Find Your Way Back… ?

Photo Courtesy of Brett Bloomfield


Nicki Bluhm

Lafayette, CA
Singer-Songwriter

Bluhm is a singer-songwriter from Lafayette who formed The Gramblers in 2008.

She moved to Nashville and has recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Studio.

She toured rigorously on the “To Rise You Gotta Fall” here and overseas.

Since leaving the band she has recorded a studio album Toby’s Song.

Wiki  |  Gramblers Website

Photo Courtesy of Nicki Bluhm


Jim Bogios

Moraga, CA
Drummer

Bogios father played trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony and convinced his son Jim to stop beating on his mom’s pots and pans and get some drums and take lessons.

After school in 1992 he joined a band called Papa’s Culture. It was during this time he got the call to join Sheryl Crow. He toured, recorded and appeared on countless TV shows for eight years with her band.

In 2003 Counting Crows called and he has been touring and recording with them ever since.

When he’s not playing with the band he’s home playing music with his friends.

Bio  |  Story  |  Website

Photo Courtesy of Jim Bogios


Marc Bonilla

Walnut Creek, CA
Rock Guitar

Bonilla was born in Walnut Creek and went to Buena Vista Elementary, Walnut Creek Middle, and Del Valle High, all in Walnut Creek. He also attended Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill.

Bonilla currently plays with the California Transit Authority Band. He has also produced, co-written and performed with Keith Emerson, Ronnie Montrose, and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Danny Seraphine.

His wiki page says he is on the soundtrack of several movies including The Scorpion Kings and The Bourne Legacy.

He has written a book Balance of Power For Guitar, (a lesson book), that promises to be the last guitar book you will ever need.

He continues to reside in Walnut Creek.

Bio  |  Website

Photo Courtesy of Marc Bonilla


The Breedloves

Richmond, CA
Guitar Duo/Songwriters

Jay Kirkland and Barbara Gorin are a couple that writes and performs original acoustic music that captures an audience’s attention.

Their romantic original songs are a perfect complement at wine tastings, weddings, restaurants, and art shows.

Their love of music extends past writing and performing.

They also teach guitar as volunteers in the National nonprofit Guitars-Not-Guns program. Barbara is the Director of the Contra Costa Chapter. This program provides free guitars and free guitar lessons to at-risk youths. She has been a volunteer since 2006.

Breedloves  |  Guitars Not Guns

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Gorin


Brittany Brooks

Pittsburg, CA
Drummer

Brooks was born in Oakland and raised in Pittsburg. She played in the nationally known and well-traveled Pittsburg High School Marching Band in 2004.

She moved to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute in Hollywood in 2006. There she performed for television advertisements and then attended California State University, Northridge.

She toured with the band Scarlet Fever and Cee Lo Green in 2010.

She has appeared on TV many times and is a founding member of DDMC.

Bio  |  Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Dix Bruce

Walnut Creek, CA
Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo

Dix began playing guitar at age twelve. He already knew how to play the piano by then. His interest, American folk music, jazz, and teaching.

When he is not performing he is teaching or writing books on how to play.

His band Back Up and Push explores the emerging possibilities of swing and jazz on acoustic stringed instruments. The band toured the west coast and released the Tuxedo Blues, an album that features many of his original instrumental and vocal compositions.

Website  |  Piano Company

Photo Courtesy Dix Bruce


Norton Buffalo

Richmond, CA
Harmonica Player

Buffalo, the son of a harmonica player, was born in Oakland and raised in Richmond. At John F. Kennedy High School he performed with a series of bands.

By the early 1970s, he had already played with many Bay Area groups including Elvin Bishop.

In 1976 he joined the farewell European tour of Commander Cody. Later that year he joined the Steve Miller Band.

He’s also recorded a couple of albums with his own band, Stampede, for Capitol records.

As a session artist, he’s appeared on 180 albums, including those by Bonnie Raitt, Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis & The News, and George Thorogood.

Wiki  |  Website

Photo Courtesy of Norton Buffalo


Johnny Burke

Antioch, CA
Lyricist

Burke was born Oct 3, 1908 in Antioch, CA. He was still young when his family moved to Chicago. He attended University of Wisconsin-Madison and played piano in the orchestra.

After graduating he returned to Chicago to work at the Irving Berlin Publishing Company as a pianist and song salesman.

Transferred to New York City he wrote lyrics with composer Harold Spina. Their first hit in 1933 was “Annie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” for the Guy Lombardo Orchestra.

Moving to Hollywood he partnered with Jimmy Van Heusen and together worked on 41 films for Paramount principally for Bing Crosby.

They won an Oscar together for “Swinging on a Star” in 1944.

BioHall of Fame

Photo Courtesy of Leo Friedman


Stef Burns

Walnut Creek, CA
Rock Guitar

Burns was born in Oakland and schooled in Walnut Creek. Played his Dad’s guitar at 7 and moved up to a Fender and played in a band when he was in the fourth grade.

At Northgate High School his Legends Band was playing Allman Bros, Lynrd Skynyrd, Montrose, and Led Zeppelin.

In 84 it was the Sheila E Band and an America, Europe, and Japan tour with Prince.

In his band VU in ’88 he toured and recorded with the Who and Rolling Stones Bands.

He continues to work and record with the Stef Burns and Huey Lewis Bands.

Wiki Website

Photo Courtesy of Stef Burns


Michael Busbee

Walnut Creek, CA
Songwriter, Record Producer

Busbee was born in Walnut Creek, June 18, 1976. He began playing the piano when he was seven and a jazz trombone in high school in between he marched and played with the Blue Devils Drum Corp.

Busbee moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and started assisting a rock producer. There he began learning more instruments including guitar, bass, and drums.

He began working on his own as a songwriter, producer, mixer, and engineer.

He then moved to Nashville. He has written for Gwen Stefani, Pink, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, and Kelly Clarkson to name just a few.

He was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2019 and died on Sept 29th at the age of 43.

Wiki Page  |  People Mag  |

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Les Claypool

Richmond, CA
Singer, Songwriter, Bassist

Claypool was born Sept 29, 1963, in Richmond, CA. Raised in El Sobrante as kids he knew Kirk Hammett who would eventually join Metallica.

In the ’90s his Alternative Funk Metal Band became mainstream, with significant airplay, Late Night TV Shows, and as a headliner at Lallapalooza in 1993.

11 studio albums, video games, TV shows and  a horrific touring schedule.

Bio  |  Claypool Primus  |  Tour

Photo Courtesy of Les Claypool


Mike Dirnt

El Sobrante, CA
Singer, Songwriter, Bassist

Michael Ryan Pritchard, known professionally as Mike Dirnt grew up in El Sobrante. While at Carquinez Middle School, 10-year-old Dirnt met Billie Joe Armstrong and they started playing.

At 14 the two were at Pinole Valley High. Dirnt worked at the Nantucket Restaurant in Crockett to get money to buy a truck so they could go to Berkeley’s 924 Gillman Club to listen to live music.

Bio  |  Green Day

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Tia Carroll

El Sobrante, CA
Blues Singer

Carroll was born and raised in Richmond, Ca. She started out in rock and roll with a band called Yakety Yak.

She has toured with blues icons Jimmy McCracklin, Sugar Pie DeSanto, and opened for Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle, and Tower of Power.

“Keep doing it” is her advice whether you are rocking it, jazzing it or going country, on good day and especially on bad days. Whether you are doing it locally or internationally you got to bring it.

In 2007 Tia Carroll was nominated “Best Traditional Blues Woman” by the Jus Blues Music Foundation and awarded “Female Blues Vocalist Of The Year” by the West Coast Blues Hall Of Fame.

Tia is currently touring California (dates can be found on her website) and working on her 3rd solo recording project, “Soul Survivor” which represents a large chunk of her life & times – stay tuned!

Website  |  Article  |  Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Tia Carroll


George Cole

Richmond, CA
Guitar, Producer, Vocalist

Cole grew up in Richmond and attended Kennedy High School.

Enjoying gypsy jazz, bluegrass, rock and pop led to a diverse group of bands to listen to and learn from.

He taught Green Days’ Billie Joe Armstrong for ten years and bassist Mike Dirnt.

Cole was a member of the band Big Blue Hearts from 1997–2000. He toured with Joe Walsh of The Eagles, recorded with producer Roy Thomas Baker, and they performed with Robert CrayRingo Starr, and Boz Scaggs.[4]

Bio  |  Website  |

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Patrick Dorn

Oakley, CA
Jazz Guitar

Dorn lives in Oakley, CA. When he isn’t volunteering for the Delta Blues Festival or the Guitar Not Guns project he trains and inspires at-risk kids to play a guitar.

A lifelong musician (you only get that tag when you have been playing for 50 or more years) who enjoys a wide variety of music including George Benson and bluegrass music.

A devoted husband and father who eats well, hikes, and rides a bicycle many miles at a time. Thanks for knowing so many musicians, and for all your help with this list.

Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook


Carmen Dragon

Antioch, CA
Conductor/Composer

Carmen Dragon was an American conductor, composer, and arranger who in addition to live performances, recordings also worked in radio, film, and television. He graduated from Riverview High School, in Antioch.

He shared the 1944 Oscar for the musical “Cover Girl.”

He conducted the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra for 10 years.

He has a school named in his honor Carmen Dragon Elementary School, in Antioch.

Bio  |  Website  |  Wiki  | IMDB

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Duogadjo

Martinez, CA
Guitar Duo

Duogadjo is the name that Isabelle Fontaine and Jeff Magidson use when they perform.

Isabelle was born and raised in France. She was a singer.  Later she became a fan of the gypsy swing of Django Reinhardt and The Hot Club of France.

Jeff Magidson was born and raised by musician parents in San Francisco. He learned to play the piano, guitar, drums, bass, and harmonica. As a Cal student on a year abroad program in Poitiers, France, he was drawn into the music scene and became a fan of Django Reinhart as well and stayed 10 more years.

The couple returned, married, and continue to play gypsy swing, and live in Martinez.

Duogadjo  | Jeff Magidson Blues Band

Photo Courtesy Duogadjo


John Fogerty

El Cerrito, CA
Lead Guitar Player, Songwriter, & Vocalist

John, formed a band, in 1959, while in junior high school. He later attended El Cerrito High School.

After his military service, he renamed the band Creedence Clearwater Revival and recorded their first hits “Susie Q” and “I Put A Spell On You.”

From 1968-1972 the band was at their height and played at Woodstock in August 1969.

Three Top Ten Albums, 30 million albums and singles sold and induction in 1993 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame making them a rock and roll band for the ages.

John continues to perform and lives in Redding, California.

Bio  |  Creedence  | Website

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Steve Freund

Richmond, CA
Blues Guitar & Vocals

Freund was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1952. His mother played classic piano.

He moved to Chicago in 1979 and with Rusty Zinn appeared on the R.J. Mischo album West Wind Blowing.

By the late ’90s, Freund had regular residency at the bar/club The Saloon in San Francisco, almost always playing alongside blues pianist Wendy DeWitt,  making several albums along the way — Set Me FreeRomance Without FinanceC for Chicago, and I’ll Be Your Mule.

Wiki  |  Website

Photo Courtesy of Steve Freund


Frankie Giovanni

Antioch, CA
Blues Guitar

Frankie Giovanni “Frankie G” has been a blues guitar player in Antioch for more than 20 years.

His heart is as big as his music. Fellow blues player and friend David Williamson started the Delta Blues Festival, Antioch, in 1999.

Shortly after the 5th annual show David was killed in an auto accident.

Frank Giovanni picked up producing the event for his friend David and did the outdoor show for the next 14 years before moving it inside the El Campanil Theatre in 2018. The money raised goes for scholarships to students. More than $27,000 so far.

Delta Blue Festival  |  Frankie G & Conviction

Photo Courtesy of Frankie G


Rosie Gaines

Pittsburg, CA
Singer/Songwriter

Gaines was born in Oakland, CA in 1960. She honed her funk/soul skills in the family group Unity with Gaines on the organ.

She went to Minneapolis, Minnesota to sing a demo for the Pointer Sister. Prince was in the studio and asked her to join his band The New Power Generation.

Her first appearance as a member of the band is on the Graffiti Bridge Album. She first toured with Prince on the Nude Tour. She continued with this band 1990 – 1992.

She has a 15 title discography.

Wiki  |  Website

Photo Courtesy bbc.co.uk


Kirk Hammett

El Sobrante, CA
Lead Guitar

At age 15 Kirk picked up a Montgomery Ward catalog guitar and shoebox amp.

He attended De Anza High School, in Richmond.

In 1974 he took a job at Burger King to buy a Gibson guitar and Marshall amplifier.

In May 1983 he got the call from Metallica to join the band and tour Europe.

In 2009 Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Metallica has sold more than 125 million records. They continue to tour worldwide.

Loves comic books, horror movie memorabilia, and still lives in the Bay Area.

Bio  |  Metallica

Photo Courtesy of Metallica


Kyle Jester

Martinez, CA
Blues Guitar

Jester is a native Californian living in Martinez. Prefers traditional electric blues energized and not songs overplayed at blues jams.

Musical influences are Tiny Grimes, Magic Sam, and Eddie Taylor on guitar.  Junior Parker, Little Willie John, and Freddie King on vocals. I exclusively play Grez Handmade Guitars out of Petaluma.

Website

Photo Courtesy Kyle Jester


Jinx Jones

Pleasant Hill, CA
Twangy Guitar

Jinx Jones has been twice nominated for Male Rockabilly Artist of the Year by the Ameripolitan Music Awards.

He has received gold and platinum record awards for his work with R&B divas, En Vogue, he has also won songwriting awards and been recognized as one of the hottest acts on the San Francisco music scene.

Website  |  Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Jinx Jones


Greg Kihn

Clayton, CA
Singer, Guitar

Greg moved to San Francisco in 1972 and worked in a Berkeley record store while forming his sound.

There he met bass player, Steve Wright from El Cerrito and together formed the Greg Kihn Band.

Their Top Ten single “The Breakup Song” was released in 1981 and followed by “Jeopardy” in 1983.

Every year KFOX hosts a concert at the Shoreline in Mt View called the “Kihncert” and hosts a show on the radio.

He was inducted into San Jose’s Rock Hall of Fame in 2007.

Greg continues to tour and lives in Clayton, CA.

Bio  |  Band

Photo Courtesy of Greg Kihn


Katy Lawrence Band

Antioch, CA
Rock Band

Katy Lawrence, Dell E. Burchette, Tim Cecchini & Pep Salinas makeup the Katy Lawrence Band.

As one listener remarked after the NAMM SHOW “Dang that is a lot of talent all in one place.”

This band plays Rock ‘ n Roll, R&B, & Motown all over Contra Costa and the Bay Area.

Website  |

Photo Courtesy of Katy Lawrence


Toree McGee

Antioch, CA
Singer/Songwriter

McGee graduated from Deer Valley High School, Antioch, in 2004.

Her 10-year voice teacher Nuhad Levasseur said “he always knew she had the potential to be a country star one day.”

She describes her music as between soulful country and Aerosmith rock ‘n roll.

She recently recorded “Amen” in Nashville and keeps a full schedule performing at local bars, clubs, wineries, and festivals in the Bay Area.

Website  |  Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook


Eddie Money

Lafayette, CA
Singer/Songwriter

Money was born on March 21, 1949, in Brooklyn, New York. A street singer since the age of 11. He sang in rock bands in high school to meet girls. In 1968 he moved to Berkeley. There he took vocal lessons and changed his name from Edward Mahoney to Eddie Money.

Singing in San Francisco clubs he got the attention of Bill Graham and signed a contract with Columbia Records and released his debut album in 1977. Two singles charted Baby Hold On and Two Tickets to Paradise.

In 1986 he recorded Take Me Home Tonight. In all he recorded 12 studio albums with 11 TOP 4o songs. He appeared on numerous TV shows and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Bio  |  Website  |  Article

Photo Courtesy of WIKI


Brent Mydland

Brentwood, CA
Keyboards

Mydland began playing trumpet in elementary school in Concord. He played piano, and graduated in 1971 from Liberty High School, Brentwood.

Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir found and brought Brett to the band. They liked his voice, songwriting skills as well as his keyboard playing.

Brett died of a drug overdose at his home in Lafayette on July 26, 1990.

11 years with the Grateful Dead Band. 45 songs listed in his discography, inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Weir notes that the 80’s & early 90’s (the Mydland years) were his favorite years with the band.

Bio  |  Band Site

Photo Courtesy of Wiki


Cameron Marvel Ochs

Lafayette, CA
Country Singer/Songwriter

Cam’s hometown is Lafayette, CA.  Her grandparents introduced her to country music early. She sang in choral groups in high school and learned how to play guitar in college.

When she fully committed to music she debuts a studio album titled Heartforward.  Light folk-pop is what it was labeled. She wrote the songs from her experiences and promoted the album in Oakland and San Francisco.

She went to LA to collaborate with Tyler Johnson and write songs to attract Faith Hill. Tim McGraw’s manager heard and Maggie Rose and Miley Cyrus each recorded her songs. Soon she had her own songs and began touring to gain experience.

Her single Burning House became a top 5 hit on Billboard country songs and sold 500,000 copies in the US.

She’s been nominated for a Grammy, ACM, CMA, and American Music Awards. Married, living in Nashville and has just had her first child.

Website

Photo Courtesy of ContraCostaLive


Mike Oria

Brentwood, CA
Jazz Guitar

A transplant of the eclectic Austin, TX rock music scene of the early ’90s, Mike studied jazz at UT Austin and has been a gigging jazz guitarist throughout the bay area for 25 years. He has attended the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool) and studied privately with Mimi Fox, Scott Sherwood, and others.

Mike has performed with big bands, combos, and in a duo with vocalist Stephanie Miller, creating fresh interpretations of jazz and rock standards on a 7-string guitar.

He has resided in east Contra Costa county since 2000.

Youtube

Photo Courtesy Mike Oria


Sin Silver

Concord, CA
Piano & Vocals

Sin Silver came to Concord from Ireland in 2015.

Inspired by the sounds of Sinead O’Connor’s music (as a 9-year-old), she was inspired to be in the music industry.

According to one article, she got her start at Petar’s in Lafayette playing 70’s tunes and pop.

Since then she has formed a band titled Sin Silver and the Avenue and made an album titled the “Motherload.”

Article  |  Facebook  |

Photo Courtesy of Facebook


Mz SuMac

Bay Point, CA
Blues Singer

Mz SuMac is the daughter of legendary bluesman Craig Horton. She was born and raised in Arkansas.

She has sung with Millie Jackson, Bobby Rush, and Ray Charles. She has been sponsoring her own BLUES SHOW annually, since 2009, in Bigelow, Arkansas.

She is a popular local singer.

Website  |  Inducted

Photo Courtesy Facebook


Jeff Tamelier

Antioch, CA
Guitar

Tamelier grew up in Lafayette and started playing guitar as a 9-year-old. He played in his own band at 11 years old.  He attended Acalanes High School and was always been in a band.

In 1985 he joined Lydia Pense and Cold Blood.

Played lead guitar and toured with Tower of Power Band for ten years 1996-2006. He was also with Mickey Thomas and Starship.

Website  |  Youtube Channel*

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Tamelier

* Lots of fun!


Darren Travis

Antioch, CA
Lead Guitar/Vocalist

Travis began his thrash metal band, Sadus, playing in an Antioch garage in 1984.

The band has stayed the same, less one (quartet to a trio), in all these years (since 1991).

Five studio albums. Worldwide tours and a 35-year history.

Wiki Page

Photo Courtesy of Instagram


Leo Vigil

Pittsburg, CA
Drummer Jazz. Rock, Funk

Leo committed early to drums, first on pots and bands, then a couple of beginner sets, and then his first professional set at the age 12. Gigs in San Francisco nightclubs followed by 14.

A major influence was James Brown “he always had great drummers.”

I also like Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, David Garibaldi, and Tony Williams all great drummers.

Played with the ever-popular PHD Band

Inducted into Pittsburg Arts Hall of Fame in 2015

Induction |  Story

Photo Courtesy Leo Vigil


Eddie Reyes

Antioch, CA
Composer/Guitarist/Pianist

2021 Nominee

Eddie Reyes Antioch High School Class of 1971. Composes, performs, and produces music in a wide variety of genres including Musical Theatre, Film, Television, Commercials, Jazz, Orchestral, Pop, Rock.

Film/TV music scoring contribution to David Milch’s HBO projects DEADWOOD and JOHN FROM CINCINNATI.

Do you know Eddie Reyes? Do you have something to add? Go here.

Blog  |  Coke Video


Steve Sage

Lafayette
Music Teacher

2021 Nominee

Sage started his music career as a 10-year-old in a Concord garage.

He earned two performing arts degrees, one from Musicians Institute (GIT) and another from Cal State East Bay (Theory/Composition), he chose to teach music rather than play it and has taught thousands of students from Skyline College, Cal State East Bay, SF State, Musician’s Institute, and Diablo Valley College.

He inspired students to realize their musical dreams and believe in themselves. Earning the name “Admiral.”

Close friends recall two songs important to him Bee Gees “Cherry Red” and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Steve passed from prostate cancer January 2017 in Lafayette at 61.

DVC East Bay Times

Photo Courtesy of Linda Sage


Do You Know Someone Who Should Be On This List?

(1) Must live or have lived in Contra Costa County.

(2) Be a talented, hardworking musician with accomplishments.

(3) Click the ADD ME BUTTON and fill out the form (as completely as you can). Leave contact information so we contact you if we have questions.

Questions? Want to send a great photo to go with the bio information?

Email Frank MacCallister

Publisher

ContraCostaLive.com.

 

Submit Musician for Inclusion

130 thoughts on “40 TOP MUSICIANS FROM CONTRA COSTA COUNTY

  1. Nice work Frank! As a life long Stones fan, you should be added. You turned me on to R&B when I was a young kid!

    1. Frank this so cool, would love to be able to forward this information to some of the past musicians from Contra Costa who performed the Black Diamond Blues Festival

      1. Merl, nice to hear from you. I know YOU HAVE a rich music history. Do what you can to make this list better and stay safe. Thank you.

      1. Hi Mark what can you tell us about Chad Smith? Or send us a couple of links relevant to his music career. Thank you!

  2. Very cool list! OMG, please add Concord-born Dave Brubeck!!
    Frank, thank you for running your site. We always consult it before visiting CCC from faraway Oakland. Spin-off lists like this one might generate more activity for you (web hits and ads) along with, of course, local pride, which can lead to … more hits and ads. You might have fun doing it, too.
    There must be gobs of famous/influential people in all sectors of society associated with CCC (perhaps every house in Blackhawk contains one). For example, one local treasure is the East Bay Regional Park District. While William Penn Mott, Jr. was in charge of it from 1962-7, the district’s land holdings grew from 7,000 acres to 17,000 acres, in part because Mott “recruited” CCC, largely agricultural at the time. EBRPD now encompasses around 125,000 acres. Mott went on to lead the California Department of Parks and Recreation, then became chief of the National Park Service for four years. His Wikipedia entry says he died in Orinda, so I assume he lived there.

  3. So awesome to see some of my very very talented friends in this 40.
    Left out a very talented friend should be on this list Al Smith

    1. Thank you Kelly. In the next couple days we will have the tools in place to submit names we have overlooked stay tuned.

  4. If you are going to include musicians who have passed away like Eddie Money, you might as well include jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, who was born and raised in Concord and has a park named after him too.

    1. Thanks. The Dave Brubeck park in Concord was originally the Concord Neighborhood park where the Concord Jazz Festival was born. The jazz event got so large that it led to the building of the Concord Pavilion. (The house that jazz built) The grand piano used on stage for performances was donated to the City of Concord and the Pavilion by the Brubeck family by the way.

      1. Matthew, that is very good knowledge. Give me a week and if you don’t see Dave up here you can give me a good chiding.

        1. Brett, I did mention Mick to Frank before it started and I’m sure Frankie G might have as well since they played together quite a bit. .

    1. Thank you Michael. In the days ahead Marc will be added. You will see changes in the way this page works in the next couple days.. This is EXACTLY what we are looking for CONTRA COSTA MUSICIANS hoo rah!

  5. I enjoyed reading theses choices. Many I personally know. Was so happy to see them included. But there are so many more to mention who continue to give me their gift. How can I recognize these amazing local musicians?🎶🎶🎶

    1. Thanks Kathy, start thinking about who you want to see added here. You’ll be able to submit an artist for inclusion in the next day or two (probably today) but I don’t want to over promise HA. We will still need to verify Contra Costa residency to be added to the list.

  6. How could you not have placed Mr Steve Sage on this list. His contribution to the bay area music scene is incredible. Not only was he has phenomenal player but as an educator who produced many of the areas better players. If his name isn’t on the list there shouldn’t be a list

    1. Wow, Steve relax. This page went live today. There is plenty of time to add your friend Steve Sage. In the next day or two, you will be able to add him yourself. Start gathering. Love your email name. What do you do during the day? Sell…….?

  7. Death Angel…
    El Dorado to CHS.
    These boys are home grown.
    Chris Kontos.. Attitude Adjustment, Part Time Christians amongst other amazing artists. Straight out of CVH. He is once again the drummer for Machine Head. 🤘

    1. Hi Justice in the next couple of days you will be able to add your friends yourself. We’ll want to see Contra Costa residency to be added. Thank you for wanting to make this page better.

    1. Thanks Tim, Grammy Winners wahoo. Shortly there will be a submit form for you to use. Stay tuned and thanks. Adding a name here is a great place to make sure this person isn’t forgotten about. You can add a link or two to some important information about your friend.

    1. duhhhhh! I thought of her a hundred times. She’s been referenced but alas I forgot. We’ll fix that soon. Isn’t her dad Pete Escovedo? He probably should be here too.

    1. Hi Toree the picture I choose looked natural. If you prefer something else link it here. While you’re at it add any other links you think might be appropriate. OK?

  8. Randy Oda, guitar, composer. Wrote Think I’m In Love for Eddie Money. Platinum record for that. Leader of ODA, long time Bay Area favorite.

    1. Hi Kevin. In the days ahead we’ll have a form you can use to expedite additions. What other links or info can you tell us about Randy? Number one is Contra Costa residency. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Dave Denny …Ste e Miller Band.
    Byron Alred…Steve Miller
    Ross Valory Journey
    Carlos Reyes…..Arturo Sandoval , Steve Miller, Zac Brown and many artist and his own show
    Dan Deshera…Buzztones
    Allan Thiel Buzztones

    1. Chuck thanks so much for your comment this is EXACTLY the type of comments we need to make this list better. Again, please be patient. We are building a form to make it easier for you and us to add great Contra Costa musicians.

    2. Excellent suggestions. Mike Williams suggested Ross etc.. A few more Frank.. Greg Douglass(Steve MIller, ,Van Morrison, Mistress… Frankie Beverly- Maze,, John Patittuci- Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea

  10. Frank, a great compilation. You may want to check into Mark Russo from Pleasant Hill. He has been the solo sax player for the Doobie Brothers for years. He attended and graduated from Pleasant Hill High. I’m sorry, I don’t know exact dates.

    1. Thanks Steve for an excellent suggestion. If you think of someone else… how about someone from a band we both like PAPA DOO RUN RUN someone in that band has ties to East County they played here so often. Good post.

  11. Glaringly missing is David K. Mathews. Hugely talented keyboardist. Formerly of Tower of Power, Etta James and currently with Santana as well as The Ray Charles Project.
    David is a lifelong Contra Costa County resident and supports local music venues and musicians.

  12. Woefully underdone! It’s obvious you only picked “crowd pleasers” and not REAL musicians. Completely ignored Overwhelming Colorfast – ,major record label signed, BAMMIE for the Best Bay Area Club Band. Ask Brett Bloomfield about Bob Reed. You need to start over with different input, other than friends & family.
    In order to gain insight into this world of music, you need to talk to real musicians – not just whoevers’ name might look good in your column!!!
    Poor job – not enough research!!!

    1. Kay sorry you’re unhappy with the list. I could have worked on this for six months and still not got it right for everybody. Shortly you will be able to add the artists I missed and make the list better. But thanks for commenting.

  13. I wish you had you had included anAntioch Hi Grad–Greg Albright .Great sax player- with a number of groups the latest AjaVu for last 20yrs! Retired due to health concerns – still gives lessons. He went to school with..Brett Bloomfield, Katie Lawrence & knew many in the music business. Born & raised in Antioch!

    1. Janice, this is good input thank you. With help from friends and research, I grew the list to 100 names and then reshuffled down to the list we have now. People were overlooked. Decided to go with a good first effort and then revise with help from people like you. Adding Greg’s name here will assure he is not forgotten. We are working now on a better system to make this list better.

    2. I second that about Greg Albright. Awesome player and person. I teach at the same place Greg does….although everybody is at home because of C-19.

    1. Hi, Pat, I was looking for a photo of you when you played with Elvin Bishop but I couldn’t find one. In the days ahead you will be able to add folks you think should be in here. Thank you. Stay safe.

  14. Nice work, lots of talent, look forward to the lost growing-
    Nicky DePaola-singer/song writer
    Michael Semanick-producer, Oscar winner
    Marcel Marchetti,-trumpet
    Lew Jacobs-singer/sing writer

    1. Hey Craig… you’ve caused me to pause… that’s a good thing. Are we talking Nicki D, Marchetti the Antioch school teacher? Michael how do I get from film sound editing to musician? Lew Jacobs doesn’t ring a bell. I guess that’s why he is not on the list yet, In the days moving forward the answer will come. Thanks for the pause.

      1. Hi Craig, thanks so much for some new names. Of course, I know of Nicky but I don’t have enough here yet… Marcel is an interesting name do you know if he is related to Ramon Marchetti? I followed the link for Lew and it didn’t mention any link to Contra Costa. I have to do my research on weekends (J>O>B>) gets in the way. LOL but I will look into it soon. Who knows maybe their mothers will see the names and write a small book.

    1. Hi David, this is a name I’m not familiar with. Do you know him professionally, as a student, a fellow employee? The reason I ask is, can you help me find something about Dean’s music pursuits? Thanks for the name drop. Perhaps some here will know him and help. Thanks.

  15. Hey Frank,

    EVERYBODY has an opinion. And some of the stuff people are posting is insane. Don’t let these people
    bother you. I actually work in the Bay Area music industry My dad has been in it for 50 years. Trust me what ever you put out there people will not agree.

    1. Thanks Vince, actually I’ve been more humbled than hurt. I’ve been in sales for most of my life. I’ve been thrown out of the nicest places! Want to drop a few Contra Costa musicians name down here? I’m sure I have missed plenty of deserving people.

    1. He very well maybe. Can you send me to a website or send me a bio and some photos I can use? I’m happy to bake the cake but I need the ingredients to make it. If you prefer email use frank@eastcountylive.com. Thank you for the suggestion.

  16. Thank you so much for the work you’ve done putting the list together. I’m sorry you suffer through some pretty accusatory comments but you have bullet proof skin.

    Much love and respect to you.
    Another name for the list is Dave Matthews harmonica player here in El Sobrante.
    Peace!

    1. Tia, you are a wonderful entertainer and deserve to be on this list… now you can add HELPFUL too with the Dave Matthews name drop. Thank you!

  17. Great list. A couple of notables that might be added could be Larry Murphy and Don Hayes. Both great guitarists .

    1. Thanks, Patrick for your suggestions it helps. Hopefully, people will add biographical links and photos we can use. I’ve heard much about Larry Murphy and even saw him a few times at the Holiday Lodge (?) on W. 18th St, in Antioch. What was the name of his band? Maybe we can find something there? You’ve made the list better today thank you.

      1. Larry Murphy played this area for years with brother. Wayne and his daughter. He also played for many C&W stars in on tour.Don Hays knows a lot about Larry. Wayne plays every Friday with others at the Sr center in Antioch.

    1. Hi Karl, has she lived in Contra Costa? Can you add some links to tell us more about her music and TV show?

  18. Oh by the way..
    How about Jimmy Webb from Webb’s Music in Antioch. He played big time back in the day’s of early country music.

    1. Patrick, good one. I didn’t know he played. I do know he was a pioneer in making amplifiers though.

    1. Thank you Don. I’m getting suggestions from all over. It’s getting messy and it’s only been a couple days. We’re working on the backend so that people can add names, photos, bio links, etc so that we can compile info on each artist. My analogy is I can make the cake but I need all the ingredients to make it tasty.

  19. Frank, how could you have missed Don Hays? He has been playing in the area for many years. He would still be playing if not for the Pandemic. His first bands were in the 60’s and he has been at it pretty much ever since. He taught Frankie G. the blues. Remember Keystone?, The Great Highway?

    1. Cathy, I’m not excluding anybody. I just need more info. Are you his publicist? That would be nice. Wink!

  20. This is great! So much talent! Stephen Salinas (plays with Lydia Pence and The Billy Martini Show and others), Billy Martini (The Billy Martini Show), Mitch Poltzak, Brooks Lundy (Stung, The Martini Trio, Hot For Teacher), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) would be great additions to your list!

  21. Ronald Magness
    Antioch High School, graduated 1966, member of Music Masters under direction of Stan Smith
    (lived in Antioch 1964-66)
    5/12/48 – 3/30/18

    Grammy Award: Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture of Television Special (Flashdance)

    Shared with: Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey, Irene Cara, Shandi Sinnamon, Doug Cotler, Richard Gilbert, Michael Boddicker, Jerry Hey, Phil Ramone, Michael Sembello, Kim Carnes, Duane Hitchings, Dennis Matkosky

    https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/ronald-magness
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/26th_Annual_Grammy_Awards
    https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/ronald-magness-obituary?pid=188633733
    https://www.facebook.com/ron.magness.1/about?section=living&lst=1191845663%3A100000650222337%3A1595194365

    1. Wow, now THIS IS THE WAY to post a comment for someone’s consideration for this list. Nice job. Well done and thank you. YOU make this list better.

    1. Larry played country music for over 50 years. Taught music at Webb’s Music for years. Also has open up for such stars
      Dolly Parton and Freddy Fender. Was also an outstanding harmonica player. Very well respected in the country music industry.

      1. Hey Buck that’s great knowledge. I hope you have a photo of Larry with Dolly. I looked for it on YOUTUBE and no luck any interview articles you can share with us?

        1. Will see what I can find, Larry was my Dads first cousin. He was a natural entertainer. Unfortunately they passed. Also Peter Riso a Drummer from Pittsburg. Once played a drum solo on The Lawrence Welk show at 8 years old. Peter also played with Coke and Pete Escovedo. Also toured with Cal Tjader Latin Jazz legend. He is a member of the Pittsburg Music Hall of Fame

  22. Jerry Rawls, a.great blues guitarist around since 60s. His current band is Jerry Rawls and the Mojo Band. He hails from Pleasant Hill.

  23. Didn’t The Captain and Tenniel (I have no idea if I spelled that right but how many girls can he have with names close to that, right?) come from Antioch? I seem to remember it being a big deal when somebody bought their house downtown and moved it to the Lake Alhambra area. Just a thought.

    1. Sherrissa, I looked into Darryl Dragon briefly. His wiki page says he was born in LA. His father, Carmen was, busy in LA so I’m thinking he never lived here. I’m happy to claim him but we need some verification of “ownership.”

  24. Curtis Ohlson (Ray Charles, Santana, Booker T) huge omission. Another bass player from Pittsburg, Ramiro Amador (Malo). Central County sax players, Bobby Strickland (Todd Rungren), Zack Johnson, Armen Boyd. Paul Cotruvo is an excellent vocalist and guitarist.

    1. Jim, I have HEARD of TWO of these artists, thank you. Can you help me with some supporting links for someone? Or maybe some names or links of others that can help me fill in the blanks we need to do things properly? Thanks for trying to make this list better. Feel free to email me frank@eastcountylive.com or call (925) 325-0934.

  25. Ed Burke says “Rudy Salazar played the Sax in the late ’50s and ’60s. He graduated in 1960 from AHS. Another milestone was he was blind and also was a car mechanic. He was one great friend.”

    1. I need to correct some misinformation… Warren didn’t write those songs for John Fogerty. Letting you know, I was the guitarist for Keystone. Wow, that was a long time ago.

      1. Don, thanks so much for the update. Nothing worse for me than misinformation. I give people the benefit of the doubt they just want to help or simply faulty memories. Dig around in those scrapbooks of yours for something epic and email it to frank@eastcountylive.com.

  26. Other names https://www.facebook.com/gordon.delaney; also https://www.facebook.com/rob.turner.940641; Bob Reed https://www.facebook.com/bob.reed627; Tom Lamothe https://www.facebook.com/tom.lamothe.3 thinks Ross Valory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Valory Allen Payton reminds me on Pete Escovedo, Sheila E and Dave Brubeck; Donna Salazaar https://www.facebook.com/profile.php says Pep & Steve Salinas should be added. Patrick Brown https://www.facebook.com/patrickbown reminds us of the Derita Brothers and the TRAK BAND; Lucile P Meinhardt https://www.facebook.com/lucymein says Runaway Gordon Delaney, Max Bridges, Mike Thomas, Joel Lopez plus sometimes Aaron Moore, David Vargas; Ricky-Lee Rogers says Steve DiGiorgio https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Di_Giorgio, Jon Allen https://www.metal-archives.com/artists/Jon_Allen/843?fbclid=IwAR3GWd_h76m3dsVXe0A0ETzJDHq8qEq4_trCUwzvqd9jAOaxwR0vDyLbeEc and Rob Moore https://www.discogs.com/artist/556930-Rob-Moore; Ed Burke likes Rudy Salazar AHS graduate 1960

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