WHO WE ARE
Clockwise from Upper Left: Larry Otis, Guitars & Vocals; Lynda Castell-Blanch, Guitar & Vocals;
John Ray, Bass; Nigel Bates, Drums & Vocals.
Second Street Band Bios
Larry Otis, Guitar, Vocals
Larry Otis has been playing all things stringed for longer than he would like to admit, even before the Beatles arrived in 1964, developing his deep rooted feel and his own unique sound for numerous unheralded bands along the way. His distinct and individual style and talent landed him in L.A. where he became guitarist for Ike and Tina Turner, appearing with them on Soul Train TV show. He was also the featured guitarist on their last hit record. He has multiple recording credits with Hall of Fame recipients like Bobby Womack, and Billy C. Farlow (Commander Cody), working for Motown under the wing of Gwen Gordy. The last five years Larry has been a member of Coffin Hunter, (a Bluegrass on steroids band),the brainchild of Jack Gibson and Tom Hunting, from the infamous metal band Exodus. His biggest personal success was scoring the title track for the B cult movie classic, “The Velvet Vampire”.
Larry plays lots of different stringed instruments, 12 string, 8 string Baritone, lap steel, ukulele, mandolin and of course electric guitar and a mean slide! A prolific songwriter, Larry has two CD’s to his credit, one self-published, the other under a major label from Iceland/Denmark. Second Street Band, with whom he currently spends most of his musical currency, offers him the opportunity to sing his hard-hitting originals and be generally self-indulgent. Along with his former wife and musical cohort of 25 plus years, he delivers great lessons in the history of Rock and Roll, with an original and unexpected spin.
Lynda Amen Castell-Blanch, Guitar, Keyboard, & Vocals
Born and raised in Napa Valley, Lynda has performed in a variety of bands around the Bay Area, namely San Francisco based R&B band True Blue, hard hitting Rock band Buster and the Cherry Sisters, The Rockaholics, Latin band Flaco and the Fleas, and has also happily shared the stage with players from Tower of Power, Malo, Pride and Joy, the Fundamentals and Tortilla Soup. She has performed the last 11 years with the popular acoustic group Sweet Burgundy before making the jump back into a full electric band.
As a singer/songwriter she plays several instruments, rhythm and lead guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, banjo, tamboura and harmonium. Lynda is also an accomplished harmony vocal arranger and has a lot of studio time under her belt in that capacity. As a writer, her originals have flavors of R & B, country rock and contemporary folk-rock, often lyrically tinted with a sense of humor that always gets people singing along. Fellow bandmate Larry Otis and Lynda have played off and on together for 25 years, while married, and later after leading separate lives, have come back together musically. Their years of playing and writing songs together shines of great musicality in this latest project with Second Street Band.
Nigel Bates, Drums & Vocals
Born in Oldham, England, Nigel picked up drumming as a young boy. Then he got into race car driving and by his early 20’s, he’d won National USAC races, competing against the likes of Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and Bill Vukovich, Jr. Nigel also tested for the World Champion Lotus Formula 2 Team at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, England.
Later, upon turning his focus fully to music, Nigel pursued it much the same way as he did racing. He studies under the likes of Forrest Eldritch, session player for Sonny & Cher and the Fifth Dimension, and also with jazz greats, one of which was the late Dave Black of The Duke Ellington Band.
He went on to play jazz, rock and blues, and successfully toured the nation with Southern Flight Ankh Band and The Rhythm Dogs. His bands have opened for Ike & Tina Turner, Jefferson Starship and Tom Fogerty. Other bands include Gill Cadilli and His Jazz Trio, The Koz, The Mark Harvey Band, and the Gail Chase Bien Jazz Group. In addition, he’s done session work in the studio – even laying tracks on the Superman movie score! He’s also wrote radio jingles for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and the Bay Area radio station KSJO, 92.3 FM.
John Ray, Bass
Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River, John grew up with the blues, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll. Classically trained on trumpet, John started out playing in orchestras and small jazz dance combos. He took up the bass in high school and soon found himself striving to emulate many of the great bassists of the era, such as Donald “Duck” Dunn, Barry Oakley of the Allman Brothers, and the immortal James Jamerson, king of the Motown bass. After playing in rock and blues bands for college audiences and in clubs around the Midwest, John migrated to the vibrant Seattle music scene where he played with the Rhythm Method and was a founding member of the popular club band “Kittyhawk”. In his long run with Kittyhawk, John played throughout the Pacific Northwest, and shared festival stages with the likes of Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Robert Cray. He recorded with regional artists such as Pat Garvey of “Lovin’ of the Game” fame.
John put his music aspirations on hold while he pursued a successful career as a senior executive for several large health care companies on the West Coast, during which time he moved to Northern California. In 2002, John got a call to play a reunion festival in Seattle. He dusted off his trusty ’63 Fender Jazz Bass, and as he got his chops back, it reignited his love of playing music, and he eventually retired from his "day job" to devote himself to making music with other talented musicians. John initially held down the low register for the West Coast Blues Review. Then, in 2015, with drummer Nigel Bates, he founded the Second Street Band. Following several iterations, he and Nigel teamed up with guitarist/vocalist Larry Otis, who brought in Lynda Amen Castell-Blanch, and the rest is history to be written, the unfolding story of the Second Street Band.