Inspired by the likes of Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Adele, and others, Raquel Rodriguez has distinguished herself as a rising star in the competitive L.A. music scene. An alumnus of L.A.’s highly prestigious Hamilton High School Academy of Music, in 2009, Rodriguez auditioned for and gained entrance into one of the most selective jazz studies programs in the nation - USC’s famed Thornton School of Music. In the spring of 2012, Raquel successfully received her B.M., Music Industry degree with a minor in Jazz Studies.
Raquel plays with a 6-piece backing band, The Big Guys, comprised of many of her classmates from Thornton’s Jazz Studies department. All members of the group are accomplished in their own right; in combination with the voice, interpretive talent and charisma of Raquel, they are a force.
Since forming almost two years ago, the group has performed at some of the top venues in Southern California, including the Roxy, Key Club and the House of Blues. Most recently, the band has opened for hip-hop superstars J. Cole and Big Sean at the A.S.I. Hip-Hop and Comedy Fest hosted by CSU-Los Angeles and played at the Carmel Arts & Film Festival. Most notably, Raquel and her band won the nationwide 2012 College Battle of the Bands. As a result, they recorded Raquel’s original piece, “Already Beat” with Grammy-winning producer Andrew Scheps at the renowned Village Studios in Los Angeles
After releasing her 6-song self-titled EP in January of 2012, Raquel and company are hard at work putting together their first full-length album, which will feature all new original material penned by the singer herself.
Sam Brawner is a professional drummer and producer based in the Los Angeles area. Born and raised in Wisconsin, he was introduced to music at an early age when he studied piano and drums. A graduate of USC’s Thornton School of Music, he is a versatile performer as well as an experienced producer, writer and musical director.
Jamey Arent is a versatile Los Angeles-based guitarist and songwriter. After receiving a degree in jazz studies from the Oberlin Conservatory, the Denver native moved to Los Angeles, where he completed a master’s degree in studio/jazz guitar at the University of Southern California. Arent has recorded and shared the stage with artists like Robert Randolph, Chick Corea, Gary Bartz, Bob Mintzer, Pigeon John and Malina Moye. Guitar Player magazine described Arent as “a stunning player, straddling blues, jazz and rock.”
Jacob Mann is a keyboard/piano player originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. At a young age he became interested in jazz, and since then has received many awards for jazz piano and jazz composition. But as his musical tastes have broadened, he has become a versatile musician who feels at home in many different styles. Besides playing with Raquel and the Big Guys since 2011, he has played with many other Los Angeles artists and bands, including Moonchild, Lara Johnston, Caitlin Notey, and Pinot. Jacob is currently finishing his music degree at USC.
Nick is a highly demanded bass player in Los Angeles. Currently enrolled in the Pop Program at the University of Southern California, he is in a number of bands ranging from Raquel Rodriguez's band to his own band "Bear Attack."
Tim McKay has been playing saxophones and woodwinds since the age of ten. He began his study of the jazz idiom with Bay Area legends Khalil Shaheed and Dave Ellis and continued on under the tutelage of greats such as Gary Bartz and Bob Mintzer. Since moving to LA he has performed in a wide variety of musical situations. Be it rock, hip hop, R&B, big band, jazz, alternative, or salsa, McKay feels at home no matter what the style.