Gabor and Friends Artist Bios 2018-10-12T14:40:02+00:00

Joe Agnello

Joe’s musical career spans over five decades and includes such bands and performers as Leigh Ashford, The Cameo Blues Band, Johnny Wright & Hotline, Dianne Heatherington, FLAG, David Wilcox, Johnny Copeland, Malcolm Tomlinson, and Chuck Jackson & The All Stars.

Leigh Ashford, a band Joe co-founded in 1967, was the opening act for The Who, Vanilla Fudge, Sly and The Family Stone, Ten Years After, Procol Harum, Grand Funk, Jose Feliciano and shared the bill with Alice Cooper, M.C.5, Guess Who, and Crowbar.

Dave Breckels

Dave Breckels has been playing drums since the age of 14. Turning professional at 17 years old and touring North America w top Canadian recording bands like Shooter, Brutus and Justin Paige  thru-out the 70s and 80′. Dave was the house drummer on several TV shows sharing the stage and opening for such talents as Ray Charles, Platters, Natalie Cole , Mickey Dolenz,  Rik Emmet, Sha-Na-na, Del Shanon to name just a few! Dave is a two-time Juno nominee and Gold record recipient w his past bands and is thrilled to be playing, recording, teaching and sharing his love of drums and music every day!

Wayne Buttery

From the mid to late 1960s, Wayne performed with several local bands at high school dances, parties, etc. It wasn’t until early 1970 when Wayne became one of the founding members of the popular Toronto based nostalgia show band, BANANAS. He later went on to perform with “MIDDLE AGED CRAZYS” a blues and R&B nightclub act and in 1989 founded “THE BLUENOTES”. In 1991 Wayne moved to Central Ontario’s, Orr Lake community near the town of Elmvale where Wayne, bassist Charlie Hinkel and drummer Dennis King (later replaced with Bill King) formed the Groove Project who often performed in local venues, resorts and festival stages throughout Ontario.

Steve Cassini

In the late sixties was singing with numerous bands in the Toronto area covering Rhythm and blues as well as contemporary rock. But writing his own music became his passion. Very early on Steve joined the Canadian Troup of Jesus Christ Superstar with a main lead and experienced his first exposure in front of large audiences. In the early eighties he played in Toronto’s popular Yorkville for many years trying to gain as much experience playing piano and singing every night at the club while writing in the day.

His first success came with the signing to RCA records Canada. His first original single,( Summers Going) was released and was received quite well. Oscar Peterson the amazing jazz great, simultaneously released his version of Summers Going as a single and also included on his Personal Touch Album. His second original single (with RCA) FULL MOON, achieved the number one position for two weeks and stayed on the charts for a total of twenty three weeks.

He went on to record for BMG, ARISTA, to name a few and worked for a number of years in Germany with one of the most successful producers, FRANK FARION, and joined the studio Recording Band THE FAR CORPORATION: Working with BOBBY KIMBALL vocals (TOTO), SIMON PHILIPS drums, CURT CRESS drums, The Who, SCOTT GORHAM guitar, Thin Lizzy, Leif Johanson bass (AH HA), Alan Marnie  Bass  Chris De Burgh, Mel COLLINS sax, King Crimson … to  name a few.

After Tv shows and concerts with the Far corporation Steve signed   a long term staff writing position with the Frank Farian European publishing company in Germany. Steve still writes to this day and is happy being retired and playing music whenever the time is right.

John Finley

Vocalist John Finley has a career spanning more than 5 decades as a hit songwriter and a dynamic performer of r&b, jazz, blues, gospel and popular music, based in Los Angeles as well as his native Toronto.

He’s worked with/for/along side Chaka Khan, B.B. King, the Rev. James Cleveland, Joe Sealy, Phil Upchurch, Jimmy Reed, Rhinoceros and Toronto 60’s classic R&B group, Jon & Lee & the Checkmates. In Los Angeles, John has been a part of the Soul Gospel Music community for the past 40 years; locally, he’s performed on Joe Sealy’s Duets at jazzfm91, is a regular with Jaymz Bee’s “Jazz Safari” and was featured on Bravo Canada’s “Yonge Street (Rock & Roll Stories)”.

Steven Henry

Since his first gig at age 7, Steven has been performing professionally for 50 years as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.  Steven plays drums, guitar, piano, bass, Hammond organ, cello lap steal and whatever else he can get his hands on.  He also owns and operates a recording studio in a small country church. Steven has one CD to his credit and is currently working on a second CD, as well as various recording sessions with other artists and live performances.

Chris Howells

Chris Howells is a Toronto-based trumpet player with more than four decades of professional experience. As a freelance musician, Chris has had the opportunities to play with many artists in varied genres. His playing experience has included musical theatre, rhythm and blues, Cuban salsa and jazz ensembles. Chris has also been a music educator for 38 years with the public school system in Toronto. For the last 18 years, Chris has been performing as a member of the horn section in the Canadian rock band, Lighthouse, and continues to do freelance work in Toronto.

Lisa Hutchinson

From her early beginnings in church and school choirs, and musical theatre, Lisa has been entertaining music enthusiasts with her soulful delivery of blues, jazz and R&B standards for over 20 years. Putting her own stamp on classic covers, Lisa is drawn to the rich melody lines and lyrics inherent in Jazz, the infectious grooves of R&B and Soul, and the grit of Blues music. Lisa draws inspiration from vocalists past and present such as Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Beth Hart and Susan Tedeschi. She has performed in the International Blues Challenge, Southside Shuffle, Wasaga Beach Blues Festival, Orillia Spring Blues Festival, Orangeville Blues Festival, Burlington Rib Fest and Kempenfest.

Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy, saxophonist, singer, songwriter, began his career at the legendary Club Bluenote in Toronto, first with Kay Taylor and the Regents, and later as leader of the club’s house band, backing such performers as Stevie Wonder, Dinah Washington, Jimmy Reed, Levon Helm and Jackie Shane. During the mid-sixties he played with the R&B band, the Soul Searchers and later, Grant Smith and the Power, out of which came the four members of Motherlode, (Steve Kennedy, Kenny Marco, Wayne Stone and William “Smitty” Smith). Often called “Canada’s first supergroup”, Motherlode, is best known for the North American hit and SOCAN Classic “When I die” co-written by Kennedy and  Smith. In 2011 it was inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Kennedy was a member of all four versions of the landmark band, Dr. Music and wrote and arranged a number of songs for the band, including the SOCAN Classic “Sun Goes By” He worked for many years as a session musician and singer/choral arranger in Toronto in both radio and television as well as major recording studios. Kennedy has played with the Canadian rock band Lighthouse since 1982. He continues to play and record as well as teaching privately. He lives in Owen Sound.

Rick Shadrach Lazar

Rick was voted Percussionist of the Year five times by Jazz Report magazine and has produced and released 4 CDs with his group Montuno Police: “Bang,” “Touch,” “The Call,” and “Nomads.”

Rick has toured/recorded with such artists as Bruce Cockburn, Barry White, Great Big Sea, Jesse Cook ,Paul Shaffer and is a regular collaborator with Loreena McKennitt on her recordings and world tours.

Rick is the creator and artistic director of Samba Squad and has written produced and released 2 CDs with this group,“Samba Squad” ( 2001 ) “Batuque,” (2006) and Que Beleza (2012 ). He is also an educator at York University ( since  2003 ) He is course director of the ESCOLA DE SAMBA AND CUBAN MUSIC COURSES). Lazar has also developed workshop techniques, which are being successfully used in the Samba Kidz andSamba Teens programs.

Lazar also taught private lessons and directed Latin Ensembles at Humber College in Toronto from 1995 to 2005. Lazar is first call for many producers and  his recorded work spans records, film scores,  TV shows and jingles. Lazar has also directed a myriad of hands on drumming workshops from the public school level to the corporate world.

He is also recognized as being  the musical director  for large, multi cultural drumming projects such as the Toronto  Olympic Parade of  Heros ; the Grand Bateria Express ( 100 drummers parading on June 6 2015 as part of Lula World Festival and  The Grand Bateria and Brass for  the Pan Am Games celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square 2015.

Dean McTaggart

Dean’s professional career started as the lead singer/songwriter for the Canadian rock/pop band “The Arrows” in 1981.

An independent release”Misunderstood” was followed by two albums for A&M records which produced the hit singles  “Meet me in the Middle”,”Talk Talk”, and “Heart of the City”.

When the band broke up in 1986 Dean went on to be a staff songwriter penning

many hits including ” Darkhorse” a number one in Canada for Amanda Marshall which Elton John called a sure fire hit on Rosie O’Donnell,”Birmingham’ a top 10 song worldwide for Amanda Marshall ,”Heaven Help My Heart” a top 10 hit in the U.S. for country super star Wynonna Judd as well as hits for Anne Murray,Terri Clark,Rita Coolidge,Johnny Reid,The Rankin Family,John Berry,John McDermitt, Austrailian superstar Tina Arena, Blues artists Shakura S’Aida, Danny Brooks,Suzie Vinnick and many others.

Dean was twice nominated for a Juno for Songwriter of the year!

Roly Platt

Roly’s career as both a live and studio harmonica player spans over 40 years. He has toured and recorded with many greats, including: David Clayton-Thomas, Matt Minglewood, George Canyon, Susan Aglukark, Dutch Mason, Suzie Vinnick and Ronnie Hawkins.

Roly is a multiple Maple Blues Awards nominee for “Harmonica Player of the Year” and “first-call” harmonica player in the Canadian recording scene. He has been recorded on over 1,800 songs, movie scores and jingles.

Sessions include: Toronto Blue Jays (OK Blue Jays), Ron James Show, Berenstain Bears, Franklin The Turtle, Tim Hortons, Labatt, Budweiser, McDonald’s and harp on soundtrack for Bollywood mega-hit film – “Delhi Belly”

Taking centre-stage, in 2014 Roly released his first solo album, “Inside Out” which continues to garner international acclaim – or as Roly puts it, “Every 56 years I put out my own CD”.)

Connie Scriver

Connie Scriver can best be described in one word – DYNAMO, and is one of Ontario’s top entertainers.

Connie pours every ounce of energy and soul into her playing and singing.  She has an incredible blues/rock voice that brings a room to their feet – and keeps them on the dance floor.  She plays Boogie Woogie keys and Hammond organ with fire and passion.

The combination of her voice and piano is KILLER.  She currently plays in several bands that tour all over North America.

Gabor Szepesi

Gabor went on the road, after graduation to pursue a career in music. Touring for years with bands like Bloodstone, Mango, Justin Paige, Grant Smith, Lenny Solomon, Charity Brown, Janet Harper, The Ryan Brothers, Laurie Schedler, Atlantis, Better Late, Ultrasound and Sweet Blindness.

In the 70’s and 80’s Gabor did many recording sessions at Toronto’s premiere recording studios as well as “live to air” television music series productions on CHCH and CTV.

In the mid 80’s he decided to follow another passion and created a very successful audio production company, PA+ Productions Inc.

PA+ had house rigs in the most prestigious live music venues in the city. These included The Jarvis House, Lee’s Palace, The Diamond Club, Rock’Roll Heaven, RPM, The Government, and on and on.

In the early 90’s PA+ was awarded the status of “preferred supplier” to some or Toronto’s most prestigious live performance venues. These included: Massey Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, The Sony Centre and The Harbourfront Centre.

Our services division also established itself as a player in world class theatre production. In 1992 we launched the world premiere of the Live Entertainment production of “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, a theatre production that toured the world after the Toronto launch.

PA+ also had a very successful integration division that was very respected by the leading consultants. It did projects that encompassed an enormous scope. Some of our installations include: Fallsview Casino, Lakehead University, University of Windsor, Massey Hall, Roy Thompson Hall, Bruce Power, Legislative Assembly of Beijing, Copps Coliseum, Halifax Legislature, Molson Barrie Arena, Celebration Square, and on and on.

Gabor sold PA+ in 2014 and still runs a local tour support company, Backline Plus Inc. BL+ is a world class supplier of professional musical instrument rentals and still services all of the preferred supplier contracts that were serviced by PA+.

Gabor moved to Wasaga Beach in 2016 and is playing every week at local bars. He is actively playing with Wayne Buttery and the Groove Project, Lisa Hutchinson, Dean McTaggart, The Collective, and Mike Roberts, as well as traveling to Toronto to do periodic session work.

Today Gabor concentrates on managing Backline Plus and is the VP of Integration at Metalworks Production Group. But he still makes time to follow his passion for playing music.

Simon Wallis

Simon is one of Toronto’s most respected saxophone players, having played with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Paul Anka, Solomon Burke,

The  Platters, Mel Torme, Bob Hope, Lighthouse,  Canadian Idol,  and many other artists and Canadian legends including Gino Vannelli.

Danny Weis

Danny Weis may be best known as the co-founder of Iron Butterfly, but over the course of his legendary career, he has played, toured, and recorded with the likes of: Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Bette Midler, Rhinoceros, Jimi Hendrix, The Everly Brothers, Burton Cummings, Melissa Manchester, and The Rascals to name a few.  Danny Weis received Platinum and Gold Albums for his work as Bandleader and Guitarist in the Academy Award nominated movie “The Rose” with Bette Midler. Danny’s unique, funky, rhythmic playing style has made him an often imitated, but never duplicated artist and performer

Raised in San Diego, California, where he was taught guitar by his father Johnny Weis, a well-known country jazz guitarist who performed with many Grand Ole Opry stars including Johnny Cash and Tex Ritter. At their home, legendary jazz guitar great Barney Kessel was frequently found jamming and trading guitar licks in the living room with Danny and his dad. These early influences formed the foundation of Danny’s strong sense of melody, bluesy lines, and the unique funky rhythmic style that define his trademark guitar sound.

At 18 Danny co-founded Iron Butterfly and performed at famous Sunset Strip clubs like The Whiskey Au Go Go and The Troubadour. He caught the eye of Elektra Records producer Paul Rothchild who presented Danny with an offer to join super group, Rhinoceros. He accepted and went on to record three albums with the group and co-wrote their instrumental hit Apricot Brandy. Danny has shared the stage with musical legends Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, David Crosby, Ray Charles, The Bee Gees, The Who, Alice Cooper, Blood Sweat and Tears and Jimi Hendrix. He as toured and recorded with The Everly Brothers, Burton Cummings, The Rascals, Lou Reed, Melissa Manchester and others.

In 1979 he was musical director and performed in the movie The Rose, starring Bette Midler, for which he received gold and platinum American Music Awards. In 2005, Marshmellow Records recorded and released Danny’s first solo project Sweet Spot which features an exciting mix of smooth jazz, funk and R & B originals.

Now living in the Georgian Bay area, Danny is kept busy in his studio writing, arranging and recording his own projects as well as recording and performing with other Canadian, US and International artists.

For additional info, please see his website at dannyweis.com