Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers maintain a busy schedule, including extensive touring throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan. They have performed at many prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl, The San Francisco Blues Festival, The Toronto Jazz Festival, The Santa Barbara Jazz Festival, The Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, The San Francisco Jazz Festival, The Salt Lake City Jazz Festival, The Doheny Blues Festival and Jazz Aspen / Snowmass.
Poster by Hall Kelley
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Lavay is also featured regularly in the nation's premier nightclubs, including Sculler's (Boston), The Jazz Standard, Dizzy's Coca Cola Club and B.B. King's (New York City), The Barns Of Wolf Trap (Washington, DC), The Green Mill (Chicago), The Dakota (Minneapolis), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis), Jazz Alley (Seattle), and Yoshi's (San Francisco). The Arena Theater Association is delighted to host them for this year's Whale & Jazz Festival Arena Theater Event.
"The Skillet Lickers are bona fide jazz players, proffering chops and Basie-esque arrangements to shame all other modern groups of their ilk. Then there's Smith, whose sultry vocals readily betray the influence of Billie Holiday, Little Esther and Dinah Washington while sounding slavish to none."
- Buddy Siegal, Orange County Weekly
Lavay Smith is the vocalist and bandleader of the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, one of the top swingin' Jazz and Blues bands in the world. Lavay grew up in southern California and the Philippines and has become an internationally recognized Diva of Jazz and Blues with a singing style influenced by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith, Little Esther Phillips and other legendary greats. Whether singing her own compositions or drawing on a large repertoire of classics, Lavay and her all-star, 7-piece band bake up an instant recipe for dancing and good times.
This sultry chanteuse evokes a sensuous era of jazz queens and sexy pinups and adds a modern, feminist twist. No wonder Los Angeles Magazine chose her as one of the sexiest people around! Lavay began attracting crowds right from the start thanks to her big, bluesy voice, exciting stage personality, and glamorous approach. According to Fox TV, the band has become "a San Francisco Landmark," winning numerous awards including a "Wammie" and a "Bammie." In 1998, the readers of San Francisco's two major newspapers, the Chronicle and the Examiner, voted Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers the "Best Band" in the annual readers poll.
Important publications have sung the praises of Lavay Smith and her band, including Downbeat, The Los Angeles Times, Jazziz, The Boston Globe, Blues Revue, The New York Press, Living Blues, and the Alternative Press. Television and Radio appearances include Public Television's "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer", Fox TV's "Fox Files", and NPR's "To The Best of Our Knowledge". World famous celebrities have jumped on the Lavay Smith bandwagon as well. Johnny Otis says "Lavay is wonderful! She and her band are a breath of fresh air." Dan Aykroyd, a.k.a. Elwood Blues, says of Lavay's debut album, "One Hour Mama", "...this CD is guaranteed to make you feel better." Even President Clinton has seen the light, proclaiming, "I love this band - they're great!"
Lavay's second CD, "Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing" incorporated a variety of classic American musical styles, including swing, bebop, salsa, jump blues, and New Orleans R&B. Enlisting the arranging talents of David Berger, arranger for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the album includes six outstanding original tunes, many classics and several obscure gems. Lavay's latest CD, "Miss Smith To You!" contains 12 tunes, including three more original songs and features Lavay's lush vocals with gorgeous arrangements performed by an all-star big band. From the opening swinging horn riff on "Miss Brown To You" to the New Orleans second-line rhythm of "When The Saints Go Marching In", Lavay and her band have produced another winner, with a variety of tempos and grooves that will have you tapping your feet and singing along.
Lavay approaches her material from the standpoint of an independent woman, combining world-class singing and musicianship with hilarious, provocative lyrics. Lavay's musical stance is echoed in her real life role as owner of her own record label, Fat Note Records. Her debut CD, "One Hour Mama" received widespread critical acclaim and her second CD, "Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing!" received a prestigious 4½ star review from Downbeat Magazine. Her red-hot stage presence and high musical standards ensure that this sexy diva will continue to light up stages all over the world.
More information, visit
THE RED HOT SKILLET LICKERS
Bill Ortiz (trumpet)
Danny Armstrong (Trombone)
Jules Broussard (alto saxophone)
Howard Wiley (tenor saxophone)
Chris Siebert (piano)
Ron Belcher (string bass)
Darrell Green (drums)
Lavay Smith's 7-piece band features some of the finest musicians in the world and is comprised of four horns (trumpet, trombone, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone), piano, bass and drums. Truly an all-star ensemble, Lavay's musicians have performed or recorded with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Quincy Jones, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Jay McShann, Johnny Otis, Wynton Marsalis, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Big Mama Thornton, Erroll Garner, Charles Brown, Rosemary Clooney, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Rufus Thomas, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Sy Oliver, Esther Phillips and many more.
Bill Ortiz (trumpet) was born and raised in San Francisco. Bill is currently the trumpet player for the legendary Carlos Santana. He has played/and or recorded with Tito Puente, Quincy Jones, En Vogue, Bobby Hutcherson, Bennie Maupin, Peter Apfelbaum and the Hieroglyphics Ensemble, Don Cherry, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Otis Clay, T.L.C., Pete Escovedo, Toni, Tony, Tone, Airto and Flora Purim, and Boz Skaggs. Bill played on Santana's historic multiple-Grammy winning album "Supernatural," including the smash hit "Smooth." That's right! That was Bill performing with Carlos Santana at the Grammies! He has been touring with Santana ever since, and is featured on Santana's upcoming album. Bill's hot new album is now available. To find out more, visit Bill at
Danny Armstrong (trombone & vocals) was born and raised in San Diego. Danny has performed and recorded with many greats, including Rufus Thomas, Archie Bell and the Drells, Pete Escovedo, Elvin Bishop, Elouise Laws, Ann Peebles, The Legendary Sy Klopps Band, The Coasters, Bobby Freeman, and Lee Oskar. He performed with the legendary Johnny Otis' working band for years in addition to his work with Lavay Smith. In addition to being the world's greatest trombone player, you can hear Danny's wonderful singing in duets with Lavay as well.
Jules Broussard (alto and tenor saxophones) was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. He learned to play by listening to Louis Jordan, Illinois Jacquet, and Earl Bostic in the 1940s. He has played and/or recorded with Ray Charles, Little Esther Phillips, Johnny Otis, Big Mama Thornton, Earl Grant, John Handy, Santana, Boz Skaggs, Steve Miller, Van Morrison and many other music greats. Jules is a renowned bandleader in his own right with a superb brand-new CD out entitled "Jules Broussard...With Strings Attached." You can find out about Jules and his band and order his CDs at
Howard Wiley (tenor saxophone) is a Bay Area native. He performed with Lauryn Hill's band on her 2007 world tour. He has worked with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, David Murray, Faye Carol, Marcus Shelby, Bill Bell, Bishop Norman Williams, and many other greats. Howard has several superb CDs under his own name, including his latest CD "The Angola Project", which features an exciting lineup that includes vocalists Faye Carol, Jeannine Anderson and Lorin Benedict, trumpet, tenor sax, two violins, piano, two basses and drums. You can find out more about Howard and order his CDs at his website,
Ron Belcher (string bass) is a Bay Area native. He has performed or recorded with John Handy, Ernie Andrews, Eddie Henderson, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ledisi, Regina Carter, Ed Kelly, Rob Schneiderman, Eddie Marshall, Akira Tana, Pete Escovedo, Donald "Duck" Bailey, and Babatunde Lea. In addition to his work with Lavay Smith, Ron frequently performs with Bay Area jazz greats Faye Carol, Clairdee, and Khalil Shaheed's Mo' Rockin' Project. For more information about Ron, check out his website
Darrell Green (drums) grew up in Oakland, CA and lives in Harlem. Darrell has toured with Pharoah Sanders, Sherman Irby from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Steve Turre and Jeremy Pelt. He has performed with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Stephon Harris, Marlena Shaw, Myron Walden, Tony Monaco, Faye Carol and Dave Ellis. Darrell is also a jazz educator, and he works with students of all ages at Jazz Camp West and The Young Musician's Program at UC Berkeley.
Chris Siebert (piano, arranger and bandleader) grew up in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition to founding the Red Hot Skillet Lickers with Lavay Smith in 1989, he has also played and/or recorded with Snooky Pryor, Taj Mahal, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Little Charlie & The Night Cats, Big Bones, Los Lobos, The Turk Murphy Alumni Band, Bo Grumpus, Denise Perrier, Brenda Boykin, Ledisi and Sugar Pie DeSanto. A noted authority on swing, jazz, and blues music, Chris, along with Lavay, was a special consultant to MCA Records for their re-issue of the classic Decca recordings of Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Lunceford and Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb. Chris is the musical director for the band, writes most of the arrangements and composes the original songs with Lavay Smith.
Arena Theater is a 1928-vintage vaudeville theater and film palace, restored in 1996 to an Art Deco style, state-of-the-art entertainment venue with generous support from local artisans and financial donations. The Arena Theater Association is an all-volunteer, community non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that maintains Arena Theater and brings live performances and artists to the stage of this Mendocino Coast venue.
Located on Highway One / Main St. in Point Arena, (California's smallest city), the Arena Theater operates every day of the year. The anchor of the theater is the Arena Cinema, which shows first run movies and this year will be showing excellent jazz films on two separate evenings as part of the Whale & Jazz Festival.
For the last two years, Arena Theater has participated in past Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festivals with both concerts and films: In 2008:
Arena Rhythm 'n Jazz: A Motown Jazz Soul Revue and in 2009
Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir.
The Arena Theater dance floor, snack stand and bar will be open for this event.
Tickets $28 advance, $5 more day of event.
Purchase tickets online
or by calling 800-838-3006,
or in person at
Four-Eyed Frog Books or Sea Trader in Gualala,
Arena Market or Pier Chowder House in Point Arena, or
Tangents in Fort Bragg.