Willy & The Nighthawks is a versatile rhythm and blues band emphasizing danceable and original music. They have gathered a strong following in Lake and Mendocino counties. Making contact with the audience a priority, their play list has variety and is always delivered with infectious rhythm. The group recorded their original music on the CD The Nighthawk Strikes, released August of 1995. They were recently voted the "Best Local Band of Inland Mendocino County" by Ukiah Daily Journal readers.
Will Siegel - guitar, vocals
Marilyn DeFrange - vocals, percussion
Paul Kemp - keyboard, vocals
Steve Baird - bass, vocals
John Rizzo - drums
When you hear Willy and the Nighthawks perform live, you quickly realize the enormous talent and versatility of this band. The Nighthawks make every song their own without losing the essential spice of the material. Combining rhythm and blues with original compositions and vintage rock 'n roll, the band provides a variety of upbeat danceable music tailored to fit each particular audience.
The summer of 1995 was a busy one for the Nighthawks as they released their premier CD, The Nighthawk Strikes, composed entirely of original material. Each member of the band earns at least one song writing credit on the CD. At the same time lead singer Marilyn DeFrange released a CD entitled Someone to Hold. This collection of her own original music includes the instrumental efforts of various members of the Nighthawks on two songs.
The background of each of the Nighthawks is as varied as their music. In many ways their music and personal histories reflect the diversity of their home base, Northern California's Mendocino County. Will Siegel, the founding member, grew up in the San Fernando Valley, started playing guitar at the age of nine, and spent his teenage years immersed in L.A.'s rock/radio culture of the sixties. He spent the early '70's attending Sonoma State University, and began writing songs and performing shortly after graduation. He has been playing and teaching guitar in the Ukiah area since 1976.
Marilyn DeFrange, the band's lead singer, is from the Kent-Cleveland area of Ohio. At the age of nine she wrote her first song and has been writing and performing ever since. Her strong sensuous voice is one of the Nighthawks' big assets. Paul Kemp hails from Dubuque, Iowa. His love affair with the keyboard began at age ten when his parents rented an organ and culminated in a music scholarship to the University of Dubuque. His "wall" of rhythm keeps the Nighthawks on track. Steve Baird, raised in Northern California's Bay Area, plays bass and adds another strong voice to the Nighthawks' vocal blend. John Rizzo, drummer, spent his early years in Pittsburgh, PA. He began playing drums at age thirteen and studied classical music at San Jose State College. Steve and John credit their fathers, both professional jazz musicians, with their interest in making music. Willy & the Nighthawks began playing together in 1991.
The band's past playing credits as individuals include:
Will Siegel recorded with Kate Wolfe's Wildwood Flower on her first album Back Roads; Barbara Curtis' album Long Overdue; toured with Louisiana bluesman Clarence Edwards; and has numerous credits as musical director for Ukiah Player's Theatre projects.
Marilyn DeFrange recorded and performed with Bonnie Raitt and Spencer Brewer. Her original songs are included in stage productions of Sleep Walker and The Thing Called Love.
John Rizzo performed with Mark Stanford Trio and Joey Burton Trio.
Steve Baird performs on Long Overdue by the Barbara Curtis Quintet, and Karen Almquist's Mystery Train.
Paul Kemp performed with Full Moon and The Secret.
For more information on Willy & the Nighthawks, please call Will Siegel at (707) 463-1835.