Bio

Sam Sims (Singer-Songwriter)

Sam Sims began his musical journey at age seven, learning piano from his mother, and was writing original songs by age fourteen. Sam performs on guitar, ukulele and harmonica, and his eclectic style incorporates Folk-Rock, Hawaiian/Reggae and Acoustic Soul/Pop. Many of Sam's original compositions have a laid-back island flavor inspired by nature.

Sam has shared stages with well-respected acts such as Willie Nile (who frequently plays with Bruce Springsteen), Steve Forbert, The Beach Boys and Rob Machado (surfer extraordinaire). Sam Sims Band opened large shows for Bob Marley’s legendary band, The Wailers (in 2014 and again in 2015). Sam has also played events with songwriters such as SJ Acoustic, Casey Turner & Quincy Mumford.

Sam works with Bruce Springsteen’s producer and his songs have been licensed and featured on prime-time television shows (CBS’ Hawaii 5-0 aired Sam’s Hawaiian Christmas Song in 2013 and 2014). Sam's songs have been aired on a number of NPR stations across the country and his band was recently featured on HGTV.

Sam has performed at the NAMM show, showcased at venues during the Sundance Film Festival and played on The Mountain Morning Show, Park City Television, Park City, UT. Additionally, he has performed at variety of venues in locations including: New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Hawaii, California, Utah, Washington DC, Texas, Nicaragua, Tobago, and Costa Rica. In March 2019, he performed at the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival in Mexico. Sam has performed at events such as The Sandy Hook Concert Series, Film One Festival, Highlands Clam Festival, Rock the Farm, RockFest at the Track, NJ Friends of Clearwater Music Festival, Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival and The NJ QuickChek Festival of Ballooning.

Missions:  encouraging positivity; writing and performing high-quality music; providing music education through performance and charitable outreach.

Outreach:  Sam has volunteered in the United States and Nicaragua for charitable organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation, Clean Ocean Action, Shining-Through-Shadows, Waves-For-Water, The Light-of-Day Foundation, Campership of Monmouth County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Waves-of-Hope, Change a Life Uganda, Global Camps Africa, Family Promise of Monmouth County, Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation, NAMI, Mary's Place, CFC Loud N Clear Foundation, Humane Society of Tinton Falls and Bahamas Relief Fund.

Some of Sam’s musical influences include Van Morrison, David Gray, Jim Croce, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. Sam’s personal interests include surfing, SUP, yoga, swimming and meditation.

Recordings are available worldwide from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other distributors.

Kyle Ward (Lead Guitar & BVs)

Kyle Ward is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who started playing guitar at eight and drums shortly thereafter. He recently graduated from Berklee College of Music and has been lead guitarist for award winning bands along the New Jersey Shore. His band Ardvark Smile won the "Rock-to-the-Top" Contest at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park after beating out 100 other groups and selling out their headlining show at the venue.  Kyle has been the lead guitarist for several groups including the Sam Sims Band, Scott Elk and ithe WimBash-All Stars.

Kyle graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven High School where he received the Performing Arts Society Award as well as the John Philip Sousa Award for Musical Excellence.  In the summer of 2014, Kyle was an honoree at the Rockin’ Music Academy of Middletown and was recognized as one of the best guitarists in the history of the Academy.  He was welcomed into the Holiday Express family of musicians in November 2014, and he is now their youngest instrumentalist.

In High School, Kyle participated in many prestigious music programs including Summer programs at the Berklee College of Music, the Grammy Foundation’s Grammy Camp, University of the Arts Summer Jazz Performance Program, NYU Future Music Moguls at the Clive Davis School of Music, The Jazz Arts Program and Rockit at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, School of Rock All Stars, Rockin' Music Academy Band and Summer Programs, Musicians Studio and the RFHRHS Jazz and Percussion Ensembles.  He was also a finalist for best under twenty-one instrumentalist at the Asbury Park JAM Awards.

Kyle has taught private guitar lessons and worked in the Rockin' Music Academy Summer Camps as a musical counselor.  He worked as an Intern at Lake House Music / Recording Studio and also worked for Eventide Audio, a company that makes pedals and plugins for a wide variety of instruments.

Kyle has perform with extraordinary musicians such as Bobby Bandiera, Matt O’Ree (Bon Jovi), Brian Kirk and the Jirks, Corey Glover and Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), Daru Jones (Jack White Band), Heather Joseph and John McCarthy (Chemical Z), the Holiday Express musicians, Mark Rivera (Billy Joel), Rocky Bryant (Average White Band), Paul Pesco (Madonna; Hall & Oates), Quincy Mumford, Dramarama, Sam Sims, Scott Elk and Sofia Nicole.  Kyle has opened for Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why, Steve Forbert, The Haven, The Wailers and Willie Nile Band.

Kyle has performed at many amazing venues such as the NAMM Show (Anaheim Convention Center), Asbury Hotel, Commodore Grill in Nashville, Count Basie Theatre, Six Flags Great Adventure, McLoone’s Supper Club, PNC Bank Arts Center, Stone Pony, Strand Theatre and The Bitter End. In March 2019, he performed in Mexico at the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival. Kyle has also appeared on HGTV and opened for The Beach Boys with the Sam Sims Band.

Dimitris Kulaga (Percussion & BVs)

MUSICIAN: Percussionist, Drummer, Vocalist.

INSTRUMENTS: Congas, Tumba, Bongos, Djembe, Timbales, Clave, Cabasa, Tambourine, Cow Bells, Shakers, Chimes, Kalimbas, Cajon, Turkish Drum, Guiro, Full Drum Kit

GENRES: Blues, Classic Rock, Folk, Reggae, Island, Funk, Hard Rock, Latin, R&B, Latin Jazz, Smooth Jazz and Soul

CAREER: Dimitris began his musical journey at age twelve, learning to play drums inspired by teen friend Tico Torres of Bon Jovi. His passion to play hand percussion came later in life inspired by Shelia E. of Prince. Dimitris has performed with musicians of multiple genres, and has performed internationally with colleges, cruise ships and land excursions. His performances have sailed him through the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Aegean, and Ionian Seas.

Dimitris has worked as a studio percussionist and drummer with many artists. He has performed with over 400+ musicians and bands and is the percussion player and backing singer for the Sam Sims Band (which includes the multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Sam Sims and guitar virtuoso Kyle Ward). Dimitris has played music internationally in numerous countries. He has performed at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. Dimitris has also appeared on HGTV, and opened for The Beach Boys with the Sam Sims Band.

OUTREACH: Dimitris, is a member of various non profit organizations; the Count Basie Theater, and Musicians on a Mission. Furthermore, he has helped the Monmouth County Arts Council, Joan Dancy & PALS (People with ALS) Foundation, Light-of-Day Foundation, Mary's Place, CFC Loud N Clear Foundation, Monmouth Cultural Center,  Sandy Hook Concert Series, Film One Festival, Highlands Clam Festival, and Monmouth University Fundraiser For Humane Society of Tinton Falls.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Acoustic Alchemy, Arturo Fuerte, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Four Play, Gypsy King, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Journey, Kenny G, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Rodriquez, Santana, Shelia E, Spiro Gyro, Stevie Wonder, Train, Yanni, Jack Johnson, David Gray, ZZ Top and ZAZ.

PERSONAL LIFE: Dimitris enjoys weight lifting, biking, paddle boarding and traveling to places where he finds inspiration (such as the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Italia and the Greek isles). He enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, family, and friends. While playing music, Dimitris was a banker in his past career. His love for music and percussion spans a lifetime.

Aaron Manzo (Bass Guitar & BVs)

Aaron plays bass guitar, regular guitar, drums, and also sings vocals. He specializes in 80's and 90's music, but is extremely versatile in most genres. 

"Bass is my first love." (Aaron Manzo)

- Genres: Grunge, Psychedelic Rock, Club Rock, Acoustic, reggae

- Influences: The Doors, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Days of the New, Faith No More, Gaslight Anthem, Alice in Chains, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Chris Cornell, Victor Wooten

- Musical Groups & Experience: Bassist of Sam Sims Band, Taylor Tote Band, and Omega Train, EMW. Lead singer of Woodfish. Also a guest performer with Moroccan Sheepherders and Carnival Dogs.

Aaron has also appeared on the First Downtown All Stars of Red Bank album "Bright Lights on Broad Street" and is being featured on the upcoming album "Magic on the Navesink". At a young age, Aaron has performed at a surprising number of venues across the United States as well as internationally. Aaron has performed twice at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. He has also appeared on HGTV, and has opened for The Beach Boys with the Sam Sims Band.

Pongsapak Kiatpreecha (Drums)

Pongsapak was born and raised in Chiang Mai, Thailand and has been playing drums since the age of fourteen. He learned to play the drums through worship music at church and blues gigs at local bars in his hometown. Pongsapak has been part of a variety of groups ranging from full orchestras to small fusion-jazz combos. His experience in his early years of performance has inspired him to pursue an education in Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music. During his time at college, Pongsapak worked as a studio drummer for many of the local artists and performed at Boston Symphony Hall. He currently lives in New Jersey, enjoying his life with musicians and friends through his love of music. In his free time, he explores the world taking pictures and writing songs to document his travels. His influences include Radiohead, Fela Kuti, Led Zeppelin, Tony Williams, The Kinks and many more. 

Lou D'Alotto (Guitar)

Lou started his musical career with the violin. While in high school, Lou was concert master of the school orchestra and also performed with legendary R&B artists Ben E. King and Darlene Love. Entering his teen years, Lou started playing guitar and began guitar lessons with renowned jazz guitarist Roni Ben-Hur. Upon graduating high school Lou was awarded the Louis Armstrong Award for outstanding musical achievement.

Attending Adventures in Jazz arts programs in Saint-Cézaire, France and in New York state, Lou has performed with jazz greats such as, Helio Alves, Steve Williams, Tim Horner, and Santi Debriano.

Lou received his bachelor’s from Berklee College of Music in May 2018, studying Professional Music and Latin Music Performance. He also studied under acclaimed guitarist Ben Sher. Lou’s interests lie in developing music that produces distinct ardent meaning. His influences pan from the music of Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, Andy Timmons and James Brown to Coldplay, Young the Giant, and Rebelution.

Lou is a sought after guitar instructor and has a number of private students in his home state of New Jersey, and is also an instructor at Manasquan Music & Dance Academy. He performs at numerous venues in the northeast and has played a variety of music festivals with artists including: The Shirleys with Tim McLoone, Guilty Pleasure, Chris Zurich, Scott Elk and Sam Sims.

Emily Grant (Saxophone)

Emily Grant

Emily started playing saxophone at age nine and immediately fell in love with the instrument. By her teenage years, she was performing with a variety of ensembles and became the founder of the Middletown North Jazz Band. After years of playing, she decided to pursue an education in music at the Sunderman Conservatory at Gettysburg College, where she studied jazz and classical performance. At the Conservatory, Emily performed with jazz greats Barry Harris and Chris Brubeck; she also toured throughout France, Italy and Turkey. Emily’s influences are far reaching including: everyone from Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins to David Sanborn and Bobby Keys. While her favorite genre to play is the blues, Emily is always eager to expand her repertoire and explore new musical paths. In addition to sitting in with the Sam Sims Band, she is the saxophone player for The Haugenes Project, The Dirty Shine, The Sunken City Sax Quartet and The New Soul Rebellion.

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