The John Cole Blues Band
With great sadness we report that John Cole passed on April 21, 2020.
Please view his obituary at Norton Funeral Homes
photo: Steven Deridder
The John Cole Blues Band, a favorite of blues fans and dancers, plays regularly at many venues and festivals in Rochester and Western and Central New York. They are happy to perform at any private functions large or small, and have played special events year after year by request. With this band, you hear the real deal, with no compromise - nothing is watered down or slicked up! Although the mainstay is the blues, there is a smattering of soul and ballads thrown in for variety, and if you really want to feel that groove, this band is the one to hear!
The John Cole Blues Band has been heard on several Rochester radio stations over the years, and appeared on an episode of WXXI-TV’s OnStage.
photo: Rick Shannon
John Cole, born in Union Springs, Alabama, has long been a favorite of Rochester Blues fans and swing dancers. He started in music early, playing guitar behind Sonny Boy Williamson as a teenager in Alabama, and sitting in with Bill Doggett while he was still in high school. As a young man, John played guitar, bass, and drums in bands in Haines City and Clearwater, Florida. He first began singing out of necessity when the vocalist for the Flaming Rockets walked off stage in the middle of a gig! He also worked with his brother's band, the Blues Rockets, and backed O.V. Wright, among others. He was offered jobs with James Brown and Silas Green, but declined, not wanting to travel at the time. Later, John moved to New York state and worked in the early 60’s with Sidney Blue in Sodus. There, he met Rochester blues legend Joe Beard and joined the Blues Union band in 1981, first playing bass, then guitar. John’s opening vocals were always a highlight of the Joe Beard show. In 1992, the John Cole Blues Band was formed and was a fixture at Shep’s Paradise, playing there every weekend until the club closed. Now, John is well known throughout upstate New York; his show features soul ballads and R&B favorites in addition to the blues, delivered with John’s trademark smooth vocal style and fiery guitar sound that consistently delights crowds of all ages and backgrounds. No one leaves one of John’s sets without having been touched by his music. Consider that, along with the band’s repertoire of all the favorite blues tunes, as well as more than just a few ballads and R&B classics, and you know why they almost always close the house with the audience begging for just one more tune.
photo: Steven Deridder
Drummer “Papa” John Chaffer, also adds an essential touch to the band’s sound - he joined the band about a year and a half after it was formed and has since become an integral part of its sound and personality. John is always right there in the pocket, due in no small part to his many years of experience playing with various Upstate New York groups such as The Earl Weems Revue, Tom Grills, and Texas Son. There are no roller coaster rides with this drummer. His recent interest in jazz has opened up a whole new world of musical experiences. He is always tasteful, and holds it down for the good of the groove. Every now and then you might get to hear him in a solo!
photo: Aaron Winters
John's sidemen never go unnoticed, however, and we are particularly happy to once again have with us Aleksandar Disljenkovic, one of Rochester’s most in-demand guitarists. He began his professional career as a blues guitarist in 1976 after playing with renowned bluesman Son House. By the mid-1980s, Aleks was touring the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with a number of blues headliners also and forming an association with John Cole during their time together playing with Joe Beard in The Blues Union.
Aleks was a founding member of The John Cole Blues Band before forming his own band, The White Hots, for which he wrote his own blues and jazz compositions.
His continuing friendship and business association with John has never been far away and Aleks is once again a regular member of the John Cole Blues Band. His solos are some of the biggest highlights of every show and always raise the level of excitement for listeners, and for the rest of the band!
photo: Aaron Winters
On Bass is Ted Mosher, a veteran of the Rochester Blues scene. Ted was a founding member of the band, and has recently returned after a hiatus of several years to rejoin his friends. He is a versatile musician who is based in the blues but also has just the right touch for light jazz and swing. Ted is a veteran of the Blues Union Band that backed Joe Beard for years, and currently is heard performing with the White Hots, the Blues Explosion, The Beale Street Band, and The Salmon Creek Blues Boys as well as with the John Cole Blues Band. In addition to performing live, he is an experienced sound engineer and producer.
Gian Carlo Cervone
photo: Steve Knapp
On piano and organ is Gian Carlo Cervone (aka “Montana Slim”). He met John and Ted when all three were playing with Joe Beard in The Blues Union and he has been with John Cole since the band’s second gig. It is very apparent when you see and hear Gian Carlo and John Cole that they have come to that place where words can go unspoken. Gian Carlo is a veteran of the blues and jazz scene in Rochester, and his solos are a favorite of the audience. He has also composed some of the band’s instrumental tunes. Gian Carlo is also known for his jazz performances with his own trio and with jazz vocalist Janet Beaman, and enjoys any chance to play with his friends Dan Schmitt & The Shadows, Big Mike and the Motivators, Steve Grills and the Roadmasters, and other blues and swing dance groups.