Who We Are
We play an eclectic mix of country, bluegrass, western swing, rockabilly, blues, traditional jazz, dixieland, old-time music, folk, roots music & Americana. Our band members also play in Hot Jazz Jumpers. Hot Jazz Jumpers perform Gullah-Geechee influenced 20s/30s jazz, music of New Orleans, country, bluegrass, blues, folk, originals and world music.
Nick Russoguitar/banjo/resonator/composer/band leader
Nick Russo leads the charge as bandleader and composer. Russo plays guitar, banjo, and resonator and has appeared on ''Good Morning America'' as well as the Sam Mendes film, Away We Go, and was a sideman with the greats - Jimmy McGriff, Teddy Charles and Sonny Dallas. Russo had the honor to jam with Sir Paul McCartney while performing at Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s home, regularly accompanies Antonique Smith, Jon Batiste and recently performed for actor/comedian/composer, Jim Dale in Jon Weber’s band.
He is a highly regarded musician who studied Afro-Cuban percussion at La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba before further training with Puerto Rican jazz great Giovanni Hidalgo. He also founded Nueva Siembra, a 15-piece Latin band, composed Jackson Heights Suite, for string quartet, was musical director/percussionist/guitarist for the OBIE Award winning Off-Broadway show Tap Dogs, and is a tabla disciple of virtuoso Pandit Samir Chatterjee.
Appears as principle dancer in featured films Disney's Enchanted and Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts. Hershey performed on international and national tours of Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, The Fantasticks and Pump Boys & Dinettes.
As a songwriter, Hershey performed live on WFUV, played with Fast Folk at The Bottom Line, C-Note, workshopped songs at Jack Hardy’s Monday night gatherings and BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop.
Betina directs Garden Players, her own music theatre program for children and young adults in Forest Hills, Queens. She writes an original musical every year, published by Beat By Beat Press and performed all over the world.
David Pleasant, is a trailblazer in the Early African inspired music and movement of Gullah-Geechee culture. Referred to as, ''A true griot who captivates audiences with performances that bridge African polyrhythms and quantum physics'', Pleasant's work spans the range.
He has worked with artist such as, Audra Mc Donald, Wynton Marsalis, Urban Bush Women, Cecil Taylor, and others. As a featured artist and/or composer for ABC News, Nickelodeon, TED Talks, Nightline and similar projects, Pleasant engages an international scope for Gullah-Geechee culture.
Banjo Nickaru & His Western Scooches featuring Hot Jazz Jumpers
perform Gullah-Geechee influenced country, music of New Orleans,
old-timey, 20s, blues, spirituals, jazz, Indian raga, originals & dance.
Miles Griffith, voice, Betina Hershey, voice/guitar, Nick Russo,
banjo/guitar, David Pleasant, drums/harmonica, Essiet Essiet,
bass (thank you special guests in this video: Walter Stinson,
bass & Kenny Kosek, fiddle).