Simmons Family Band is a Northern California based family group that plays an eclectic blend of traditional, gospel, and early American music with strong influences coming from bluegrass, old-time, folk, and Celtic genres. Formed officially around Christmastime 2014 when they played in public for the first time between a Fry’s Electronics store and a Salvation Army can, they have since played at several Bay Area rest homes and farmers markets, Sebastopol’s Gravenstein Apple Fair, New Brighton State Park in Capitola, Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco’s famous Ghirardelli Square.
Elizabeth (mandolin & vocals) is a freshman in high school. She loves to read and write and sings in the high school choir. Elizabeth also enjoys water sports, baseball, piano, ballet and track. She got her first mandolin when she was eight years old and grew up listening to Alison Krauss and Union Station. Lizzie is also a big fan of Sierra Hull. She currently takes mandolin lessons from John Blasquez and has taken workshops from John Reichman and Tom Bekeny.
John (guitar / bass & vocals) is a seventh grader and, besides Dad, is the only boy in the family. He loves to stay up late listening to A’s baseball games on the radio. John is a natural songwriter and plays the guitar (and sometimes upright bass) alongside his dad. He enjoys the music of Jack Johnson and James Taylor. John has taken guitar lessons from Dix Bruce and attended workshops with Keith Little and Keith Yoder.
Anna (fiddle & vocals) is a sixth grader and loves to sing, draw, sew, and do gymnastics. Anna started playing Suzuki violin when she turned 5 but now plays mostly bluegrass and old-time fiddle. She is talented at learning songs quickly and transposing them to different keys. Anna takes fiddle lessons from John Blasquez and has taken workshops from John Mailander and Annie Staninec.
Katherine (fiddle & vocals) is a third grader and plays fiddle alongside her sister, Anna. She also is very artistic and loves to draw, paint, color and read. Katherine also loves to be goofy. Her contagious laugh brings light into a room and leaves everyone happier than they were before. Katherine sings many of the childrens songs and is the lead vocalist for a crowd favorite, This Little Light of Mine.
Margaret is rarely featured in the band as she is still learning to walk but will soon find her place in the band somewhere. As for now, she is our number one fan and claps after every song.
Heather (Mom, bass & vocals) grew up dancing classical ballet at the prestigious Ballet West Conservatory in Salt Lake City, Utah, and now runs a ballet school for over 40 local children in Concord. Coming into music later in life, she is a natural at the upright bass and does an excellent job keeping the family in time. She has taken lessons and workshops from Max Schwartz, Trisha Gagnon, and Cary Black.
Clay (Dad, guitar / banjo & vocals) grew up in Santa Rosa and was introduced to bluegrass music by a church friend from Indiana. Outside of music, Clay enjoys the outdoors and works as a civil engineer. Mostly self-taught, Clay has taken a few lessons from Bill Evans and Jim Nunally.
Please contact Heather or Clay to make arrangements for our family band to play at your next event!
We are very thankful to the following groups and individuals who have helped us learn how to create music together as a family:
California Bluegrass Association (Father’s Day Festival Grass Valley, Kids on Bluegrass, Instrument Lending Library, Frank Solivan)
Oak Grove (Schwartz Family Band)
Dix Bruce / MusixNow (Mandolin, Guitar)
Jim Nunally (Guitar)
John Blasquez (Fiddle, Mandolin)
Bill Evans (Banjo)
Alice Lasky (Violin)
The Freight & Salvage Coffee House
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Salvation Army of Concord