Meet the Band

Lakewood Photography

(High-Resolution Press photos for club and newspaper use are available for download; please click here)

"Nobody's Better Than Ezra." DigitalCity.com

In the diverse world of Texas music, the Ezra Charles Band may be the most diverse of all. The features that make their act unique are a long list: a front-man singer-songwriter on piano, a three-piece horn section that is all female, bass lines played by the keyboardist, a repertoire that is almost all original, a range of musical styles from rockabilly to swing to blues to boogie, the ability to shift from infectious dance-hall beats to intimate cabaret-style songwriting presentations to international arena-level concerts, and a three-decade longevity.

The present band began in 1983 as a rockabilly trio, but two years later Ezra added a three-piece horn section, and the lineup was born that has survived to this day. A big part of the impact of the band's live show comes from the fact that Ezra combined the concept of female backup singers with a horn section by recruiting three girls who play trumpet, trombone and sax.

The Ezra Charles Band has scored many high-profile opportunities over the years, including the Houston Rockets NBA championship era (1993-1996) when they were the band that played courtside during the games, and played twice at the Astrodome for 50,000 Rockets fans celebrating the championships. Performing at clubs, concerts, media events, fund-raisers, and parties of every description, they have played for President George Bush and the 1990 Economic Summit, The NBA All-Star Party, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the NFL Super Bowl festivities when it was in Houston and a private performance for The Rolling Stones!

In 2008 and 2009 they toured internationally, playing concerts in South America and Italy, including two invitations to the Umbria Jazz Festival, Europe’s largest music fest. February 2010 found them performing for 14,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders at Minute Maid Park in Houston after being selected to be the musical entertainment for the BSA Centennial Celebration.

In October of 2010 the band won the Regional Finals of a contest organized by the Houston Blues Society, and earned a trip to Memphis in Feb. 2011 as the Houston entry in the International Blues Challenge. Competing against 110 bands from around the world, they advanced as far as the Semi-Final round, winning praise from blues fans and musicians from all over America for their distinctive show and unique sound.

The music they play consists mainly of songs written by Ezra Charles that fill the eight CD’s they have released on their own label. Ezra has spent the last twenty-five years creating a body of work that chronicles his life and the Texas Gulf Coast atmosphere that permeates his music. As the band's horn arranger as well as songwriter, he has drawn from both the heritage of the "Blue-Eyed Soul" horn bands of the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Louisiana region where he grew up, as well as the rich Houston sound of the Duke-Peacock stable that recorded behind Bobby "Blue" Bland and Gatemouth Brown.

Although their style is hard to categorize, it is fair to say that the band’s music includes elements of everything that makes Texas music special. Concerts by the Ezra Charles Band always include improvisation and exciting interplay between the musicians, epitomizing what great live music is all about. 

Members of the band are:

 

  Ezra Charles (Piano, Vocals) Describing his second Readers’ Poll Award for Best Piano/Keyboards, the Houston Press wrote, “Ezra Charles has made his mark on Houston many times, and in many ways, over the course of a long career” … ‘way back in 1994!

Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Ezra Charles’ first band experience at age 14 was "Johnny and the Jammers." consisting of himself, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, and a drummer. Moving to Houston, he organized Thursday's Children, now widely regarded among the most influential Texas garage bands of the Sixties. He spent most of the Seventies preparing for his career as a Blues master, being personally mentored by Leon Russell, playing with Lightnin' Hopkins, and becoming the last protégé of the late Professor Longhair in New Orleans. The band has no bass player because he prefers to play the bass lines himself through his own keyboard style and special equipment. Ezra is also the songwriter and arranger of the band's material.

During his college years at Rice University he invented a special microphone for pianos, the “Helpinstill Piano Pickup,” an amplification system now used worldwide and bearing his surname, and achieved international fame as a technical innovator. (For more about this, check out his other website at www.helpinstill.com.)

 

 

Nancy Dalbey (Trombone, Trumpet, Backing Vocals) Nancy joined the band in 1989, responding to a classified ad she saw while looking for work as a model or actress. She got her musical background playing trumpet in the Katy High School marching band and learned trombone after joining up with Ezra. She never missed a performance from the time she got in the band until her maternity leave in 2003, a span of over 13 years!

 

 

Michael Seybold (Guitar) Mike joined the band in 1996, winning out over about 20 guitarists who auditioned for the position. Mike grew up in San Antonio, and was a student/protege of the late guitarist Tim Harris. Not only has he contributed his own tasty licks to the CD's recorded during his tenure, he faithfully and uncannily reproduces the parts laid down by his predecessors.

 

Rachelle Akpanumoh (Trumpet, Backing Vocals) A veteran of the University of Houston band programs, Rachelle recently received her Bachelor's degree in Math from there. She grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, and her father is a preacher and native of Nigeria who moved to the U.S. to be an engineer and settled in Sugar Land. She performs every Sunday morning in her father's church.
   
 Dave Sartin (Drums) Dave is a Houston native, getting his musical start performing in the Scarborough High School Drum Line and Stage Band as well as various local bands. Dave brings 35 years of experience along with a an energetic zeal for performing and laying down a solid beat for The Ezra Charles Band.
 Alisha Pattillo (Saxophone) The newest member of the band is originally from Melbourne, Australia! After a misspent youth occupied with playing blues in Singapore at age 15, and graduating from the University of Melbourne with a music degree, she found her true home in Texas with the Band with the Girl Horn Players. Once you've seen her light up an audience with her show-stopping riffs amd fiery sax pyrotechnics, you'll never again say, "She's pretty good for a girl!"

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