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Johnny Nicholas and the Dragon Jazz Band

Updated: 5 days ago

Featuring Katie Shore, Joel Savoy, Tif Lamson, Noel Hernandez and the

Honoka'a High School Jazz Band led by Gary Washburn

Appearing February 12th 6:30-9:30pm at Gertrude's Jazz Bar

Tickets $20 at Eventbrite

Johnny Nicholas, Grammy blues musician and Gary Washburn, big island music educator are once again forming the Dragon Jazz Band from Honoka’a High School music students and professional musicians. The Dragon Jazz Band, an extension of Nicholas’ Big Band Bash project encourages, supports and gives opportunity to music students through mentoring and the experience of performing with professional musicians. Both Johnny Nicholas and Gary Washburn continue to nurture, educate and support future and current musicians and the music industry.

Johnny Nicholas is a renowned American blues musician. He is most noted for having been a front man for the multiple Grammy Award winning group, Asleep at the Wheel.

Nicholas was born in Rhode Island where he formed his first band, The Vikings while in high school. In the mid-1960s, he formed the Black Cat Blues Band and in 1970, the Boogie Brothers. He then moved to San Francisco, California and in 1974, moved to Chicago, Illinois where he began playing with Big Walter Horton. Nicholas with Horton and Robert Lockwood Jr. recorded Boogie Woogie Red and created his Grammy nominated single, "Too Many Bad Habits" for Blind Pig Records. Moving back to Providence, Rhode Island, he formed his own band, Johnny Nicholas and the Rhythm Rockers, which included Kaz Kazanoff on saxophone, Terry Bingham on drums, Sarah Brown on bass guitar and Ronnie Earl on electric guitar. In 1980, Nicholas took time off from music to raise a family and owned and managed a roadside restaurant called the Hill Top Café near Fredericksburg, Texas with his wife Brenda. He returned to recording blues music with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor on the WC Handy Award winning album Back to the Country in 1991. Since then, he has released six studio albums and two live albums on various labels while touring the world and performing in his adopted homes of Texas and Louisiana. Visit Johnny Nicholas at

Gary Washburn is the Honoka’a High School music director since 1978, and has brought much attention and accolade to the school’s music programs. He upholds a long tradition of excellence in Hawaii’s music industry and the community. Under the direction of Washburn, a dedicated educator and accomplished jazz artist, the band is considered to be one of the top high school bands in the country. They were recognized with a NAMM Award (National Association of Music Merchandisers) as one of the best communities in the U.S. for music education, and Washburn earned a “Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award” by the National Society of High School Scholars. The program received a GRAMMY Signature Schools Award in 2013 and Washburn was recognized by the Hawaii State Senate as “A Living Treasure of Hawaii”. Last year, Washburn received the 2021 Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award from the Jazz Education Network and Berklee College of Music. The Honoka’a Jazz Band is attributed with 19 albums. Washburn is a prolific composer and currently performs at the Manta Mauna Kea Beach Hotel four nights a week. Visit Gary Scott Washburn on Facebook and Gary Washburn Hawaii on YouTube.

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