Dan Lord – Lead Vocal and Guitar
Dan has been playing guitar and singing since he was a teenager. He loves the opportunity that playing with this band offers to experience the joy of playing music that inspires and thrills him. To be able to share the music that he loves with an audience of appreciative listeners is such a rich and satisfying experience.
“ When I was young, maybe ten years old, I had an experience that startled and intrigued me. While at a friends house, his mother was playing records when on came an Everly Brothers song called “Walk Right Back”. Next thing I knew I was feeling shivers down my spine as if I had been electrically shocked. The song woke something up in me, in a very intense manner, that caused me to wonder what had happened. Ever since that day I have been listening to and playing music that moves and thrills me. It is simply amazing the power that music possesses to move me in ways that I can’t imagine but only experience. Certain pieces of music seem to go right to my heart and soul while bypassing the filter of my mind and intellect. I love that!”
Mark Baker – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Mark is a blues and jazz guitarist with a Master of Music degree from URI who is based out of Rhode Island. He is a veteran of the New England music scene, having performed with Luther “Georgia Boy” Johnson, Ken Lyon, the Louie Camp Band as well as leading his own jazz band the Baker Brothers.
Bill Gilroy – Bass Guitar, Vocals
Bill holds down the low end of the band. He’s been playing the four string since high school and that’s a long time. As the only Jersey boy in the band, he played in various bands in New Jersey before moving to Rhode Island for grad school. Bill continued playing in various bands until the mid 80’s when he took a hiatus when children came long. As his kids hit their middle school ages and started to play in bands, the music bug hit Bill again. He cites his favorite players as Hutch Hutchinson who plays with Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, and the master of Motown bass, James Jamerson.
Donn Watson – Keyboards, Vocals
No stranger to Hammonds and pianos, Donn Watson has been playing piano since he was eight years old. While still in high school he was modifying, repairing and playing combo organs and a Hammond spinet through rotating Leslie speakers in an effort to achieve the sound he heard from Stevie Winwood with Spencer Davis Group and then Traffic. In the early ‘70s Donn was on the road as far west as Montana, playing a 1937 Hammond organ with folk band Sweet Medicine backing up singer songwriter Jimmy Collier on a college coffee house circuit.
Soon after moving to Rhode Island in the early ‘90s, Donn joined the community of local blues and folk musicians for bands, gigs and jams in Southeastern New England. Continuing to collect Hammonds and Leslies, Watson felt at home behind the keys manipulating the drawbars of his favorite instrument creating dynamic fabric and rhythm. Watson played and recorded with several artists including JP Jones’ Life & Death release. Since then, Donn has played with popular Rhode Island blues and rock bands and is pleased to share the stage for five years with Dan Lord and the Big Shots. In addition to Steve Winwood, Watson holds in high esteem keyboardists Bruce Katz, Mike Finnigan and Jon Cleary.
Mike Bennett – Drums, Vocals
Mike Bennett started playing the drums in junior high school way back in the Dark Ages. He played in many local R&R bands through the high school and college. After a break of 15 years Mike joined up with Dan Lord in 1986 and has been playing in bands with Dan ever since. Major influences are Charley Watts, Ringo Starr and Nicky”Topper” Headon. Musical influences are early Garage Rock, Electric Blues and Punk. Mike prides himself on keeping a solid, steady beat with a loud snare drum crack cutting through the mix.
Mark Hadden – Saxophones
Mark plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones.
There isn’t a type of music that he doesn’t like to play or listen to – just good music. He’s a native of Rhode Island, but as a former resident of N’Awlins’ 13th Ward (home of The Nevilles), particularly enjoys the varied styles of Blues, R&B, Tex-mex, Sahm, Robillard, Roomful, Mavericks, and dance music played by The Big Shots.
Mark presently also plays as a member of The Dead Blues Society, a long-time South County band playing Dead, Blues, Clapton, Stones, Allmans, and jamming and dancing.
Mark also plays more recently with the reggae/rap/blues of James and The Giants with Wakefield Idol winner James DeSalvo.
For years he had been a frequent guest soloist (and music committee chair) at The Slatersville Congregational Church, playing services, funerals, and special events, and learning the spiritual cannon from respected music directors Al Lague and John Staples and their choirs.
He has also played as a member of the Greg&Mark Duo; The Greg Lee Ensemble (rock, pop and jazz), with keyboardist and vocalist Greg Lee, guitarist Dave Richards, drummer Greg Motta and bassist Steve Moraweic; and northern Rhode Island’s This Has Got To Stop with Chuck Kenoian, John Torvi and Ken Vario (Dead, rock, spiritual, Mardi Gras, Irish acoustic and Bluegrass); as long-time horn accompanist with RI’s award-winning songstress Joanne Lurgio; and itinerantly with RI’s rocking dance band Whiskey Rhode and awesome Dead bands Rose Wharf Band (Taunton, MA) and So Many Rhodes (northern RI).
His influences most thankfully include his teacher and mentor, Berklee professor and RI music and saxophone icon, Dan Moretti. And every musician he has ever had the humble good fortune to play with.