Meet the Players

Les Elkins Trumpet

Les is originally from West Virginia, growing up in Chuck Yeager’s hometown. He played trumpet in high school marching bands and continued playing while he attended the West Virginia Institute of Technology in Montgomery, WV. There he also sang with the Guy Owen Baker Chorale, traveling with them to Germany, Austria, Poland, and Hungary.

When Les moved to Maryland he was pleased to find many opportunities to continue playing, including the Columbia Community Band, Rockville Brass Band, and the employee’s band at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at White Oak, MD. In addition to JSS Les currently plays trumpet with the New HOTS Jazz Orchestra and occasionally the Rockville Brass Band and other groups. He has also played in some fifty-odd pit bands for community theaters in the area. Les has also appeared on stage in a number of musicals and operettas, as part of the chorus or as an occasional role in community and professional theaters in DC and Maryland.

He is pleased to have this opportunity to find the trad jazz sound, work on his improvisation (only took twenty-five years of playing to get ready to learn to improvise!) and is pleased to have yet another venue to perform with his new wife, the vocalist.

Steve Luchter, Clarinet & Sax

Steve is our clarinet player. His lifelong interest in traditional jazz started in his high school days. He says many of the songs we play now are the same ones he played back then. That wasn’t the start of his musical career; he began to play violin at age six, and continued with that instrument until age 13, when he became enamored with the clarinet. Steve says his aspires to play like Willie Humphrey, the clarinetist with the Preservation Hall Jazz band in the 80s. He feels that no one puts more feeling into his music than Willie.

When Steve graduated from high school he had to decide between engineering and music as a career and chose engineering. That didn’t mean he gave up on music. In his college days he played in a big band, and over the years played in a number of concert bands. He retired in 2001 and has devoted his principal energies to music since then. His first project was to take all of the music courses offered at the Northern Virginia Community College. To sharpen his improvising, he attended several sessions of the Adult Jazz Camp offered by the San Diego jazz society America’s Favorite City Jazz Society. In 2002 he co-founded Jefferson Street Strutters.

Although his primary interest is in traditional jazz, Steve also plays Russian folk music as a member of the Washington Balalaika Society orchestra where he plays the alto balalaika. He founded an ensemble from within that organization, Russkiye Musikanti, a group that plays at senior centers, schools, civic events and as the warm-up band in the lobby prior to the orchestra concerts. Steve plays percussion with that group.

Another area of interest is as an advocate for the arts. Steve is president of the Arlington Citizens for the Arts and has appeared before the Arlington County Board and the School Board advocating for issues of interest to the arts community.

Maybe genetic, but in any case, Steve has two sons involved in the music scene. His older son, Justin, is a bass guitar player and an expert in sound engineering. His younger son, Peter, is a drummer, presently leading a fusion jazz band.

Dave Tucker, Pianist

Ragtime, Stride & Early Jazz Piano

Dave Tucker lives in Alexandria, Virginia, is married (Cindy) with two children (Michael & Christina), and conducts patent research for a living. Dave has played piano, specializing in ragtime, since 1970. In the early 1990s he took up piano performance with great enthusiasm and began to expand his playing into other early jazz forms such at stride and novelty piano.

Dave is an internationally known performer of early jazz styles. His first CD “Tickled Ragtime & Novelties” in 2001 featured the music of Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, Zez Confrey and others. Recently, while expanding his ragtime repertoire, Dave has explored many other forms of early syncopated music including European novelty piano and the Harlem stride of James P. Johnson, Willie “The Lion” Smith and Fats Waller. His second CD “Meadow Lark”, issued in April 2005, reflects his intense research, study and numerous experiences since first becoming a regular performer on the ragtime circuit. Meadow Lark includes songs of many styles, such as classic and modern-era ragtime, Harlem stride and other examples of early jazz piano music. Dave is currently working on a project to record the entire Scott Joplin repertoire while also working on another CD of ragtime, stride and early jazz pieces.

Dave has performed at the International Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival, the Blind Boone Ragtime Festival, the West Coast Ragtime Festival, the Lake Superior Ragtime Festival, the Eau Claire Ragtime Festival, the Alexandria Bay Ragtime/Jasstime Festival and the Northern Virginia Ragtime Society, among other numerous appearances. Dave has also conducted several ragtime presentations for school children.

Dave now performs regularly in the Washington D.C. region. In 2005, Dave joined the Hots Jazz Orchestra as their pianist, performing hundreds of tunes in numerous styles covering the time period of 1890-1945. In addition, Dave helped develop a new jazz trio/combo called Reverie (http://www.reveriejazz.com), now performing regularly. This group specializes in presenting early jazz standards in their original style. Dave joined the Jefferson Street Strutters in 2007. In December 2008 Dave became the Director of The Hot Society Orchestra of Washington, an 11- piece group performing music from the 1920s-1940s (http://hotsociety.net). Dave also works with other musicians and vocalists for various projects in the D.C. area, and maintains a website covering his activities at http://www.turboragtime.com.

Meghan Williams Elkins, Soprano

Meghan is a classically trained musician in voice and piano. Meghan hails from St. Louis Park, MN and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Acting emphasis with a Music Minor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Meghan comes from a very musical and artistic family and began her career early as a musician, at the age of 8, as a pianist. During grade school and junior high Meghan played the percussion section for school band and was the pianist for the extra-curricular group, Stage Band. Throughout high school, Meghan performed in the school plays and was a pianist for the Jazz class (Jazz Lab). Meghan also joined an extension of the Jazz Lab called The Jazztet and became their vocalist after the Jazz instructor heard her sing. The Jazztet performed locally and regionally, which also included performing at the prestigious Northrup Theatre in Minneapolis.

Meghan received a music scholarship after performing a concert at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, MN. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Meghan performed in numerous roles in various theatres throughout the Minneapolis area and has also been seen on the stage of The Guthrie Theatre. During this time, Meghan went on to study opera and voice at MacPhail, Center for the Arts, in downtown Minneapolis where she was an Honor student and, by invitation only, performed in Master Classes with various guest coaches and opera singers.

After moving to Maryland in 2001, Meghan performed in various operas with The Victorian Lyric Opera Company and The American Center for Puccini Studies and continues to make many concert appearances throughout the DC Metro Region. She became a lead singer for The New Hots Jazz Orchestra in 2004 and performed for the Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand in 2006. Meghan was invited to become the vocalist for the Jefferson Street Strutters Dixieland Band and moved on from The New Hots Jazz Orchestra to join this new and exciting musical group! Meghan also joined the Washington Balalaika Society as a fledgling domratist, where the orchestra has played in well-known local venues (The Barns at Wolf Trap and The McLean Slavic Festival) along with several summer park concerts. When not performing various operas, theatre and concerts, Meghan can be found in her home studio teaching piano and voice. Meghan’s husband is the cute trumpet player for The Jefferson Street Strutters who is a VERY patient and understanding man and she loves him dearly.

Tom Reed, Drums & Percussion

Tom Reed holds a master’s degree in percussion performance from the University of Maryland, College Park. He grew up in north-central Pennsylvania, playing drums in local jazz and rock groups and performing with several drum and bugle corps (Milton Keystoners, Reading Buccaneers). While a mallet instrument specialist in the 1980s, playing vibraphone with The Howland Ensemble, Tom’s compositions were part of the group’s eponymous recording, which received the 1986 WAMMY Best Jazz Album and Best Debut awards. On the strength of that recording, Musician magazine included the ensemble in their 1988 Best of the Unsigned Bands compilation, Best of the BUBs (Warner Bros. PR4757), judged by Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, T- Bone Burnett and Mitchell Froom.

Tom took an extended hiatus from performing in the late 80s and early 90s to devote full attention to his photojournalism career, spending that time as a photographer for The Associated Press (Washington, D.C., bureau), covering the White House, Capitol Hill and all the amazing follies and foibles of the national political scene. He recently retired from the AP, after spending the last decade as a supervising photo editor in the company’s State Photo Center in Washington.

Over the last half-dozen years, Tom has devoted himself exclusively to drumming, leaving mallet playing to others, and in a kind of “return to personal basics,” once again finds himself playing small-group jazz and Latin styles, performing as a snare drummer with area drum corps (Baltimore Yankee Rebels, Hanover Lancers, American Originals Fife and Drum Corps), teaching privately, and composing and arranging for a variety of ensembles.

Cathy Gotschall, Tuba

Cathy Gotschall is a native of the DC area – she was born in the District, lived in in the Maryland suburbs for nearly 30 years, then moved across the river into Northern Virginia. Her musical “career” began at age 7 when she saved her allowance and bought an Autoharp. Since then, she has studied and played several other instruments, including harmonica, organ and Celtic harp, before finding true happiness with the tuba in 2000.

Cathy initially played with the Traffic Jammers, a pick-up group of musicians from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Cathy co- founded the Jefferson Street Strutters with clarinetist Steve Luchter and has been enjoying traditional jazz ever since. She and Steve, along with fellow Strutter Bill Haupt, performed weekly as the house band for the Comcast Sports Network’s Monday Night Football pre-game show in the fall 2006.

In addition to her performances on tuba, Cathy is an award-winning Celtic harpist who, with her daughter Caroline on hammered dulcimer, occasionally performs as the duo “Celtic Grace.” When not playing music, Cathy works as a research scientist for the Office of Emergency Medical Services. She lives on Jefferson Street in Falls Church, where the band had its early rehearsals.