Vocals, Keys, Arrangements -- Cliff Ernst. Cliff hails from Oklahoma, where his mom taught him to read music before he could read words. His classical music training continued through piano lessons, concert bands and church choirs until high school. Then he joined a rock band and forgot all that good music education. He always loved R&B but never played or sang it until founding RC. He aint lookin' back.
Vocals -- Samantha Prate. Samantha moved to Austin, Texas in 2012 from her home state of New York. Samantha received her education at Manhattanville College as well as Lee Strasberg Institute. She was classically trained and thereafter studied musical theater, pop, and R&B. Samantha studied under Phyllis Lynd, Seth Riggs and Charles Mandrachhia and is currently a student of Gene Raymond, based in Austin. Samantha is the US and Canadian National Anthem singer for the Texas Stars Hockey Team. She is thrilled to be finally getting the chance to sing the soulful tunes she had always admired and loved! www.samanthaprate.com
Guitar, Vocals -- John Puailoa. John, a California native, attended the Berklee College of Music where he attained a joint degree in guitar and sound engineering. He moved to Austin a few years ago to work in the financial sector. Rhythm Congress is excited to have John join the group. His blazing leads and solid rhythm playing is taking the band to new heights.
Drums -- Rob Ward. Rob trained as a classical percussionist and jazz drummer. Rhythm Congress represents his first venture as a rock drummer. We are happy to be "corrupting" Rob and grateful for his solid tempos and the sophistication he lends to our group.
Percussion -- Patrick Knighten. Patrick grew up in north Louisiana and has long had his heart in jazz and blues. Having spent years playing in marching and concert bands, he happily sets aside his band uniform and tuxedo to jam with Rhythm Congress on all the percussion he can get his hands on. Although he wasn’t alive when much of this music was out the first time, he is making up for lost time now and enjoying every minute of it!
Bass -- Daniel Garza. Daniel was a founding member of the band (Capital Retro) that Cliff joined when he moved back to Austin several years ago. In addition to playing the bass, Daniel is a film and technology production specialist. He and Cliff are happy to be reunited in Rhythm Congress.
Trumpet -- Randy Howard.
Trumpet -- Terry Armstrong. Terry, a Houston, Texas boy, was a top gun fighter pilot until he gave up jets for the trumpet. He has played big band style trumpet around Central Texas for several years. He started rocking with Rhythm Congress shortly after it was founded.
Valve Trombone -- John Wilson. John, born and raised in South Austin like Rhythm Congress, taught music in the Round Rock Independent School District for 24 years. But even that didn't prepare him for the RC experience. He showed up one night to sit in for an hour and he never left. And we're grateful. If John can't play it, it aint worth playin'.
Saxophones -- Ernie Campos. Ernie is a staple of the Austin music scene and plays reeds with many bands in the Austin, Texas region. Ernie holds the distinction of being the "nicest" person in Rhythm Congress (if not in all of Austin).
Saxophones -- Herb Holland. Herb is originally from Houston, Texas. A classically trained oboist, Herb turned to sax during a mid-life funky crisis, and has been getting down ever since. (We only occasionally have to help him back up!) He is founder and promoter of the Texas Community Music Festival, held in Austin each spring.
Saxophones -- Kevin Baird. Kevin holds a masters degree in saxophone. He is currently a band director in the Liberty Hill Independent School system. His wicked sense of humor often makes itself known in his frequent soloing for the band.
Saxophones -- Steve Sabino.