Sunshine, Ron (Ronald S.), vocalist, jazz and blues harmonica player, songwriter, bandleader, producer; born in Denver, CO. Grew up in Denver, graduating from Manual High School. Father Irwin played trumpet in East Denver High School and University of Colorado (Boulder) big bands in the '40s. Ron's four older sisters performed as an a capella vocal group and won local awards. Music was always very much a part of the household, with sister JoAnne in particular a strong instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. One of JoAnne's songs, "Wasted," appears on Ron's fifth CD, DELUXE which was released in 2003. When his father bought him the "Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz" when Ron was about 14, the youngster was hooked for good.
Ron's first instrument was a drum set, which he received at the age of 5. He performed in small combos in elementary school, Jr. high school, and high school, as a drummer and then as a vocalist. While attending Columbia University in New York City, where he moved in 1981, Ron took up the harmonica. He graduated from Columbia College with a BA in English in 1985. While there, he studied writing with Albert Murray, Kenneth Koch, Arnold Weinstein and others. He studied music with Jose Luis Greco and Joe Donovan. Other professors included Amiri Baraka, James Shenton, and Edward W. Said. He continued studying music theory at the New School for Social Research in 1990. Ron and his wife, Feather have two daughters.
Ron's first professional experience in New York was as a sideman playing harmonica with blues guitarist Brian Kramer in 1988-89, at such venues as Tramps, Sun Mountain, Kenny's Castaways, the Bitter End, etc. In 1989 Ron traveled to Paris and began performing on the streets of France and Switzerland with Dan Fitzgerald and the Lost & Wandering Blues and Jazz Band. Here--as he fell in with such musicians as Madeleine Peyroux, Joe Flood, Charlie Hunter, Calder Spanier, Christian Fernandez, Belinda Blair, Billy Collins and others--he began to sing in the jazz tradition, and to study the canon of the Great American Songbook.
He returned to New York in 1990 to form two of his own groups, one concentrating on funky R&B originals (the Smoking Section), and the other on '30s and '40s jump swing and standards (Full Swing). These groups performed constantly in NYC and around the world during the 90s, and up to the present time in such venues as Tramps (where Full Swing performed a regular Friday slot from 1990-1994 opening for such greats as Charles Brown, Jay McShann, Wilson Pickett, many others), Windows on the World, the Supper Club, Irving Plaza, the Beacon Theater, Roseland Ballroom, Midsummer Night's Swing (Lincoln Center), The New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts, the Bermuda Jazz Festival, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, Club Kristiania (Oslo), St Gervais Jazz (Switzerland), the Red Bank (NJ) Jazz and Blues Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn (at the Prospect Park Bandshell), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), The Supper Club, The Roxy (Boston), The Five Spot (Philadelphia), Louisiana Community Bar & Grill, and many others.
Band members have included drummers James Wormworth IV (the Conan O'Brien Show, Erskine Hawkins, Johnny Copeland, many others), Charlie Caldarola, the late Howie Wyeth (Bob Dylan), and Jason Pharr; saxophonists Joe Hrbek, Lee Greene, Craig Dreyer & Anders Gaardmand; pianists Rick Germanson (Craig Handy, Louis Haynes, Lonnie Plaxico), Eddie Swanston (Louis Armstrong, Art Blakey, Ike Quebec, many others), Matt Ray, Paul Tillotson, Doug Petty, Jon Dryden; guitarists Joe Flood, Dan Hovey and Bruce Edwards (Sun Ra, James Carter), Jono Manson; bassists Andres Villamil, Jim Greene, Andy Hess (Jon Scofield, Gov't Mule), David Santos (Billy Joel, Elton John, Neville Brothers), Cliff Schmitt, Kelly Friesen, Dom Richards, Reggie Workman (one gig, but it was a great one), Jerry Dugger; trumpeter and arranger Tim Ouimette (Ray Charles, Ray Baretto), Kenny Rampton, Guido Gonzalez; tap dancer and drummer Herbin Van Cayselle (Urban Tap), and others.
In 2006 Ron formed an octet to handle his regular appearances at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center(NYC). The book features the arranging talents of David Berger (Julliard School. Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra), Andy Farber, and others, and features songs associated with Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, as well as Ron's original songs. Musicians have included Matt Hong, Dan Block, Kurt Bacher, Ryan Keberle, Mark Hynes, Jeff Bush, Carl Maraghi, Brian Pareschi, Wayne Goodman, Tom Pietrycha, Matt Ray, Isaac Ben Ayala, Jimmy Madison, Rudy Petschauer, along with vocalists Aria Hendricks, Queen Esther, Sarah Tolar, and others.