Eric Hollandsworth began performing professionally as a fiddle player at age 13. He took up cello in junior high and bass in college performing in many ensembles along the way. Some notable bands from the past include Cheaper Than Therapy, Eli Cook, and Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes. Recordings of Eric's projects Jacki B & the Backburners and the Tendencies have been heard as "Featured Artists" on Danish Radio's Blues Hour. Currently Eric is an adjunct professor in Sweet Briar College's Music Department. In addition to his current "bassman" role with the Sway Katz Jazz Orchestra, Eric performs with Long Strange Night, The Tommy Cox Band, and C Hewat Music. He is also a member of the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, and serves as principal bassist for the James Chamber Players. Eric is an endorsing artist for Spector Basses.
Sharon Grindstaff started with piano lessons at the age of 5. Never wanting to practice, and only playing what she wanted to – she finally decided that if she would practice she might get a little better! She decided by her middle school years that she wanted to be some type of music educator and chose Elon College where she earned a Bachelors in Music Education and Performance (piano) with the assistance of Dr. Arlene Goter that drilled scales and Bach Prelude and Fugues her freshman year of college. With that degree she taught general music and choir for 3 years, and then transferred to Franklin County where she has been the middle school band director for 28 years. Within that time she also earned her Masters degree in Music Education from Radford University. Sharon has taught private piano for 25 years, was a keyboard player for the Roanoke based band Southwind, pianist and choir director for various churches, and has played and sang for many weddings in the area. Sharon lives in Rocky Mount with husband Hugh and a big Alaskan Malamute named Ziva and a tiny cat, Annie.
Vocalist, Celie Holmes, has been a musician since she learned to whistle at the age of 4. Singing came next, along with violin and guitar. She performs solo vocals around the greater Roanoke area, and is a vocal coach for individuals and groups. Celie is also Music Director for two Roanoke area a cappella choruses - the all-female Star City Sounds Chorus and the all-male Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers Barbershop Chorus. She loves singing with the Sway Katz and knows you'll be tapping your toes the minute the music begins!
Pete Medina comes to the Sway Katz via Puerto Rico and New York City. Coming from a family of Percussionists, his playing is influenced by many different styles of music- Afro Cuban Rhythms, Latin Jazz, Jazz, Mambo, Salsa, and now with Sway Katz a heavy dose of Big Band Styles. Along with the Sway Katz, Pete is also a member of Latin Clave V.A. of Roanoke, and plays with a variety of Salsa, Jazz, Blues and Christian bands in Roanoke VA.
Russ Pawlas has been a band director in Central Virginia for 25 years. He is a 1992 graduate of James Madison University with a bachelors in Music Education and earned his Masters Degree in Music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was a performer with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps in 1989,'90, and '92 and has studied with Bill Rice, Tony Falcone, Mark Thurston, Dennis Delucia and Gary Olmstead. Russ is a member of the Music Educators Association and the Percussive Arts Society. An adjunct at the University of Lynchbug, he is also an active performer in the area. Russ lives in Lynchburg with his wife, 6 children, 3 cats, 2 dogs and the occasional partridge in a pear tree.
John Winnicki has been playing music since he was six years old, starting with piano and violin. As a teen, he added guitar, bass, cello, and vibes to his repertoire. After graduating college John spent 5 years traveling the world eventually landing as musical director for the Prague Jazz Orchestra, a post he held for 8 years receiving critical acclaim. Working as a chemical engineer in his spare time, John also currently plays with the Floyd-Montgomery Jazz Project, Jam Sandwich and Land of Joy as well as various other small Jazz Combos