Born: May 3, 1959 Primary Instrument: Guitar
London, Paris, Geneva, Washington DC! Guitarist/vocalist, Ken Avis, never imagined he would live in these cities after growing up in a Northern English coal mining town close to Liverpool. After travelling in over 80 countries, across four continents, he is now based in Northern Virginia with his wife, the stunning French Canadian vocalist Lynn Veronneau. Together they are putting their world experiences to good effect in the eclectic, multi-national music of their band Veronneau.
Meeting in Geneva, Ken and Lynn debuted together at a festival in the mountains of France, they continued to perform and record internationally as a duo before forming a group (called simply Veronneau ) in 2010 with Brazilian jazz guitarist David Rosenblatt and drummer Pete Walby. In their first year, the band played numerous shows and received nominations for three awards from the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA). They delighted regional audiences with their world wise jazz ranging from Bossa Nova to samba, swing and gypsy jazz, performed in three languages.
Avis performed throughout Europe, the US and Canada during his early career. In London, he performed at legendary venues such as the Mean Fiddler, Dingwalls and the 100 Club. In the Washington, DC area he played the Kennedy Center and Strathmore Music Center as well as Rams Head in the nearby port city of Annapolis.
The youngest of four children, Ken stepped onto the stage when his family escaped the declining coal-town economy with a move to Blackpool, England’s Las Vegas…without the sunshine! The holiday town provided an opportunity for teenage Ken to earn pocket money performing in hotels and bars before forming a working band to tour the music venues of northern England.
He played with such luminaries and friends as Dave Ball of Soft Cell and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys in school bands before heading south to Sussex University and the London School of Economics. Ken’s musical adventures continued with a variety of bands including a five-year stint as the lead vocalist in London’s Otis Grand big band, a WC Handy Blues Award winning group featuring horns and the celebrated guitar of Otis Grand. Then, suffering a stroke of practicality he went on to pursue day jobs in international development. That work took him to Paris, then Geneva and finally to the World Bank in Washington, DC.
A late convert to jazz guitar, Ken’s initial influences were blues and soul music following an inevitable brush with, and enduring affinity for the Beatles. His favorite jazz album since high school days is Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass’s Take Love Easy, but only in the last five years since enjoying a handful of lessons with ace guitarist Steve Abshire did he begin to unlock the mysteries of jazz guitar. Now with his band mates in Veronneau he his bringing his performance experience to jazz audiences as they explore the world of jazz with timeless guitar driven melodies collected from Brazil, Mexico, France, Great Britain and the USA.
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