Hopmonk Sebastopol Presents: Gator Nation
May 28, 2022 8:00 pm
hopmonk Sebastopol 230 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol, CA, 95472
Gator Nation, formerly Gator Beat, has been playing dances and festivals on the West Coast for 20 years. They specialize in their own brand of South Louisiana music – it combines traditional Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orleans R&B. Most notable are the original creations, giving the band their reputation as unforgettable, a band with a beat that bites. The flavor is always spicy, like a good gumbo, and bound to please. As one of their albums is titled, the crowd is always left hollering Gimme Some Mo’. Willard Blackwell – Bandleader, washboard, vocals Music took hold of Willard’s life when, at the age of 13, he and his singing group took to the stage and placed first at many talent shows throughout San Francisco. At 15, Willard picked up his first set of drumsticks. Playing in concerts and marching band at his high school eventually led him to join Running Waters, a Pomo Indian soul band in nearby Santa Rosa. Running Waters became the backing band for visiting artists such as Bobby Freeman (“Do You Want to Dance” and “C’mon and Swim”) and Little Dion (protégé of Jackie Wilson). Willard went on to form and lead his own band Souler Heat (1978 to 1983), a critically acclaimed soul band in Northern California. Later, as a freelance drummer, he went on to play with Sam Andrews of Big Brother and the Holding Company and Peter Tork of the
In 1995 he got a call from Gator Beat founder, Richie Domingue. He performed as a Singer/drummer for Gator Beat until 2003, when he decided to go back to obtain his Master’s Degree in Organization Development. At the sudden passing of Richie Domingue in 2005, Willard got a call from Gator Beat manager and wife of Richie, Carolyn Domingue, to sing and play washboard. Eventually, Willard went on to lead the Gator Beat band. Today, as Carolyn retires the name Gator Beat, Willard and fellow band mates continue on as Gator Nation Band.