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.
SEAN ANDERSON - Guitar
I started listening to blues when I first heard Robert Johnson at age twelve. Then I got into the Chicago stuff and Stevie and at 16, I got my first guitar. It was a black squire Stratocaster but it looked close enough to Eric Clapton's "Blackie" to make me happy. I never had lessons. I figured out tab and started learning the rock songs that had shaped my youth. I went in the army at 17 and continued to learn whatever I could of rock and blues. After I got out at 23, I went to college at UNCW and discovered the local blues jam in Wilmington. I just kept going, every Tuesday night for years, and played with amazing people. Eventually I got into modern blues and West Coast jump blues and swing, and I'm still working on that and probably will be for the rest of my life. Moving to Asheville has exposed me to tons of amazing local artists across the spectrum of music and I do everything I can to support this incredible community.
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'!
BILL MATTOCKS - Harmonica
A Seattle Washington native with strong musical roots in the Blues, Bill Mattocks is a veteran performer fronting Blues and Rock Bands for many years. Bill is known for his ability to interpret songs in his own way using powerful Vocals and a Unique Harmonica style. From 2006 to 2013. The Bill Mattocks Band was one of the Northwest’s best Blues Rock Bands, known for being a tight well rehearsed band producing a High Energy Show of Classic and Contempory Rock and Blues. Moving all of his music projects to Asheville, North Carolina in September 2013, Bill is now performing with Virginia and The Slims and also has created the latest version of the Bill Mattocks Band following the same traditions and guidelines that served him so well in the Northwest.
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.
The desire to expand his jump blues and swing musical vocabulary and control the every movement of hypnotized dancers brings Marco to Virginia and the Slims (truth be told, mostly for the “control” thing but keep that under wraps please) . Marco’s musical journey began in Detroit in the 1960s when he first heard Little Stevie Wonder on AM radio and was hooked. As a teenager he played in club bands in the Philadelphia area and slept through most of his high school classes. Attending the University of Tampa, he performed in the UT Jazz Ensemble and was introduced to jazz by his bandmate John Pizzarelli. His path led back to Philadelphia where he played the regional circuit with a number of cover bands. Marco decided to hang up his full-time musical career in the mid 1980s and enlisted in US Army where he travelled to Germany to drink beer and take long walks with Germans on the weekends. His musical pursuits, wedged in between a career, family life and the pursuit of legitimacy in the form of initials to put after his name, have kept him busy for the past three decades playing funk, R&B, jazz, blues, rock and even a deep dive into Greek music--Opa!
Marco is obsessed with drum gear (oddly, stuff manufactured by former WWII Axis powers but we won’t think about that too much), and keeps the UPS guy busy dropping off things that vibrate and excite the surrounding atmosphere. In addition to a massive case of gear acquisition syndrome he dabbles in coffee roasting, baking bread and marvelling in his good fortune to be married to the the woman of his dreams (largely because she is super fabulous, but also because she says very little about all those UPS deliveries). If you have nothing better to do, you can keep up with Marco at marconoto.com.