Our Story

Virginia and The Slims started in Summer of  2013 with Virginia DeMoss on vocals, Perry Lavin on drums, James Kamp on  tenor sax, Harry Schaefer on bass, Ginger Drake on alto sax and Sean Anderson, on guitar.  Virginia's husband came up with the name and  we loved it. The idea was to play blues but to play songs people would  respond to, especially swing or jump blues as no one else locally was  focusing on that.   Eventually Virginia left to start a family,  Ginger left for Nashville, and Perry and Harry left to pursue their  first love, Indian classical music.  James and Sean reorganized with Sid  Heilbraun, a rock solid bassist, and Brian Gant, a Nashville pro on  drums.  Rebecca O'Quinn came on board as our singer.  After about a year  she left, and we met our current vocalist, Joanna Best.  Joanna can  bring across old time blues like no one's business and has a great  disposition. Then we added a long term friend of ours and  killer harmonica player, Bill Mattocks as well as saxophonist Vinny Corda and Marco Noto on drums.

The band now welcomes Don Pasqualini on guitar, Jeff Delgarn on drums, Tom Fleckenstine on bass. 



JOANNA BEST - Lead Vocals
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Joanna Boyd Best began singing in public at age 6.  Fronting bands in Chapel Hill, Kansas City and Lawrence, KS she discovered the fun of old blues tunes. She has covered the waterfront in genres, but particularly enjoys the jump blues and swing tunes with Virginia and the Slims.  She also taught public school music for fifteen years.  She is an adjunct instructor in music at AB Tech in Asheville and teaches vocals at UNC-A.  She also works with K-8 students in reading and math.











DON PASQUALINI, guitar Don has been playing guitar since the age of 12. He became acquainted with the blues after reading the liner notes on the Rolling Stones' early albums.  He loved the music and decided that blues was the music that moved him the most. Since then he dominated the Detroit blues scene with his Copeland Blues Band under the alias Don Copeland. He moved to Chicago in the late 70's to join the blues scene there and dropped his alias. He worked with many Chicago blues musicians including Son Seals, Little Arthur, Hip Lank Chain, Shirley King (BB King's daughter) and many others. He toured with The Professor Blues Review, The Glen Davis Band, Harmonica Heinz, Jimmy Dawkins to name a few. When asked once "Don why do you play the blues" he considered the question for a minute and said "I play em' because everyone's got the blues at one time or another." He moved to the Asheville area in 2018 and adds his bluesy style to the Virginia and the Slims group. 








                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JAMES KAMP  - Saxophone, Vocals
James is a southeast Missouri native who grew up listening to everything his am transistor radio played in the late 60's and 70's. All kinds of great music before music became segregated and bland. He took piano and guitar lessons as a kid, and still had time to play football most days. James didn't join his first band till he got out of college in 1984. He's played in bands since, always doing only originals until the last few years. Everything eventually leads back to the blues (James' first 45 was "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies, but the flip side was called "Truck Driver" and believe it or not it really was a slow blues. And his mother can tell you that both sides of that record were played...and played...and played). The blues are Rockin' again for James with Virginia & The Slims, only now they are alive, jumpin' and swingin'!







 

TOM FLECKENSTEIN--Bass

Tom has played the blues for decades in Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, Asheville, NC, Bristol, TN, Clarksdale, MS and many places in between. Hailing from Michigan, he began playing bass when he was 13 and formed his first band at age 14. A young Bob Seger and Ted Nugent played his high school dances, and along with other regional bands they became significant influences in molding his style of aggressive "straight finger playing", as well as his being in the epicenter of Motown in the late 60’s. He played with the NC-based band Arhooly, featuring Shelia Carlisle and Max Drake, and has shared the stage as the warm-up act for BB King, Tommy Castro, Albert Castiligia, Bob Margolin, Tinsley Ellis  as well as other blues greats, but Tom never wanted to have his passion for the music to wane because it was a job.  As he says, "I don't want to play a song-I want to make music".  He brings an instinctual feel and intensity to the bottom end that, as any good musician knows, is the foundation for doing justice to the blues and those who created it.  Tom currently lives in  Waynesville, NC with his wife, Debbie and yellow lab Rory.

 

 

 

 

JEFF DELGARN--Drums

 
Jeff brings 40 years of experience playing all styles of music to the Alleycats. He toured the US and Canada with various groups and appeared on many recordings as a session drummer. Besides using a basic drum kit he plays a variety of percussion instruments including conga drums, bongos and a box style Cajun drum.