Gaetano Vaccaro – guitarist/co-songwriter/filmmaker
Gaetano Vaccaro is first generation Sicilian, raised in Albany, NY. Influenced by the Sicilian guitar playing of his father and grandfather, Gaetano began studying various musical instruments in his early childhood. One might now be challenged to find an instrument he cannot play, well versed in guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, clarinet, flute, keyboards, and cello. Gaetano is skilled in numerous genres from rock to jazz to flamenco. He has studied under well-known jazz guitarists John Hilton and Pat Martino, and flamenco guitarist Miguel Angel Cortez. In addition to his duet work Taína Asili and his work with la Banda Rebelde, Gaetano performed across the country numerous times and put out two albums with hip hop/rock band Broadcast Live. Gaetano fell in love with Taína Asili and her son in 2006, and there began the journey of intertwining their music and family.
Gaetano is the founder of Sunangel Media, and is the director of photography and editor for Taina Asili’s music videos Freedom and And We Walk. Since 2009, he has been an arts instructor to youth in music, film and new media with the award-winning program YouthFX. Gaetano is committed to making meaningful contributions to community through his work, and has been supporting non-profit organizations, small businesses and artists with music, media and design for over a decade.
Kiki Vassilakis – drummer
Kiki Vassilakis hails from Greece, living in the US for the past two decades; this talented musician marks the map with versatile and matchless percussive ability. Playing for over 15 years, Kiki has performed in a unique collection of bands with styles ranging from funk, jazz, and Dixieland to country rock, indie metal, and traditional Greek. Outside of her music, Kiki works in graphic design, photography, publicity and promotions in Albany, NY. She is committed to community involvement, and is best known for her unforgettable outgoing personality. In her free time Kiki volunteers with local LGBTQ organizations and her Greek Orthodox Church.
Dylan Blanchard – conguero
Dylan Blanchard, was born and raised in the North Shore of Massachusetts, and first dipped his little toes in the waters of rhythm there whence a benevolent man introduced him to some basic West African rhythms after church. Following it along up to Maine, he played and studied more with school chums from the Maine College of Art. That enthusiastic conglomeration evolved and devolved, grew arms and legs, becoming many formations of music in bands such as Grupo Esperanza, Olas, The World Leaders, and The Open Hand Orchestra. He has been fortunate enough to have traveled to the cities of Santos and Salvador in Brazil, and La Habana and Matanzas in Cuba, studying the music and culture of those places. Currently his path has taken him to New York City, where he continues his studies in a community of great talent and passion, playing for Afro-Cuban dance classes and events which bring us closer to some of the root values of music; one of the many expressions and celebrations of this life which we have and which has us. He hopes through this music he can transmit encouragement for the health and well-being of us all, and a feisty good time every once in a while.
Gabby Canzeri – bassist
Gabby Canzeri, native of Troy, NY, is formally trained in classical guitar, but has also become a skilled musician playing bass guitar, saxophone, piano, drums, as well as singing. For four years she sang and performed guitar with the jam band Formula 5. She has shared her talents in guitar teaching local youth for the past five years. Through this work, she has become a strong believer in the therapeutic power of music, and hopes to expand her work in this area.
Jeff Nania – saxophonist
Jeff Nania is one of the hardest working saxophonists in the Capital District. His group The Chronicles has played everywhere from The Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival to the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and everywhere in between. He has also performed with Latin artists Taína Asili y la Banda Rebelde, Sensemaya, and Ensemble Congeros, in addition to his own duos, trios, and quartets. As a session musician, Jeff has recorded for Sean Rowe, Formula 5, Ampevene, Jocelyn Arndt, J-Live, PJ Katz, and many others. Nania is also the creative director of Proctors Theater’s Summer Jazz Institute, and an arts and music critic formerly with Metroland Alternative Newsweekly, and now with Nippertown arts and news web blog.
Philippe Chow – trumpet player
Philippe Chow hails from the small town of Waterford in Upstate New York where his musical obsession began. He began with formal classical piano training at age 8, added trumpet at age 9 and picked up bass and drums by the time he began high school. The trumpet gave Phil a greater opportunity to play in school ensembles and orchestras. In high school Phil was exposed to jazz and improvisation, which gave him musical direction and self-discovery. After graduating from George Washington University, Phil moved back to the Albany area to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science where he currently resides, playing with many upstate NY groups such as The Dylan Perrillo Orchestra, the Chronicles, The Silver Arrow Band, Taína Asili y la Banda Rebelde and many small-group jazz ensembles.
Tonya Abernathy – back-up vocalist
Tonya Abernathy has been singing professionally for many years, trained as a jazz vocalist. In Atlanta, GA, she sang with the well-known ska band The Robostos as the lead vocalist. Since her time with The Robostos, she has toured the nation many times in various musical constellations, and has worked as a session vocalist on several albums. In addition to her work with la Banda Rebelde, Tonya is lead vocalist for The Accents, Albany, NY’s premier band for weddings and special events. Tonya is deeply passionate about holistic health, and believes deeply in the healing powers of the voice.