The sinuous wisp of a clarinet from a balcony in the French quarter... the sultry growl of a plunger-muted trumpet in a back-alley speakeasy... the jangly guitar spilling out from a roadside juke-joint... an infectious swing propelling the aeronautics of Lindy-hop dancers... the irresistible beat and syncopated thump of a Bourbon Street Parade on Mardis Gras day… All these simmer together in a radium roux, electrifying the sound that is Tuba Gin. Based in Greenville, South Carolina, Tuba Gin plays a spicy gumbo of music, drawing from the traditional New Orleans jazz of Louis Armstrong and the classic blues of Bessie Smith, and incorporating the habeñera and clavé rhythms of the Caribbean, the Charleston, and New Orleans brass band funk, as well as the insistent back-beat of the blues, gospel, and rock and roll. With a repertoire ranging from quirky original tunes to old-time spirituals and from trad-jazz favorites to Elvis rockers, Tuba Gin shares its intoxicating musical cocktail with any audience. Equally at home on the concert stage, in a dive bar, or expanding to a full second-line brass band to lead a guerrilla street parade, Tuba Gin has performed at the Sigal Music Museum, the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Westminster Music Center, and various breweries, bars, and parties public and private across the upstate.
Coleman Alexander Tuba
Coleman Alexander studied classical tuba at Greenville’s own SC Governor’s School for the Arts and at Furman University, where he earned a Tuba Performance degree in 2015. Always eager to explore unusual musical situations, Coleman was first brought into the fold when Tim Cassell found him busking as part of a tuba/vocal duo in downtown Greenville. Excited to play more improvisational genres of music, Coleman soon began serving as an alternate tuba in the Snopes Family Band, the New Orleans influenced blues group Tim Cassell and John Pursley had played in since 2010. Since Tuba Gin’s formation in 2018, Coleman has been an integral member, bringing to bear his classical training and inventive approach. Coleman teaches after-school tuba and euphonium lessons to middle and high school students, and is a member of the Greenville Concert Band where he has been featured as a soloist. He frequently performs with the Greenville Symphony, and plays various other brass quintet and orchestra gigs, all the while working on personal musical projects.
John Pursley Drums
John Pursley began playing the drums as a boy in his home town of Butler, MO. He soon added the guitar and grew up playing in garage bands with his friends. In 2010, the other two members of the nascent Snopes Family Band persuaded John to switch from the guitar he had initially played in the group back to the drums, and he hasn’t missed a beat since! In addition to his responsibilities with Tuba Gin, John plays the occasional Samba drum line gig with Jeff Holland and crew, providing the rhythmic backdrop for Samba dance performers.
Keith McCulloch Vocals, Guitar, Banjo
Keith McCulloch grew up in Greenville, SC and began his music career in high school as a Jazz guitar student at the Greenville Fine Arts Center. Since graduating from the College of Charleston with a BA in Jazz guitar in 2000, Keith has played guitar both solo and with various groups across the southeast, including a stint at an African music based church, RCCG City of David Atlanta, and, more recently, the Sean Ritchie Group, a hard-edged progressive jazz trio. In 2007 he returned to Greenville to raise two children with his wife Melissa and earn a Masters in music education from Converse College. Since 2013 he has taught elementary music and band for Greenville county schools. In addition to Tuba Gin, Keith currently plays bass in Strange Orchard, a four piece rock’n roll band dedicated to creating and performing new and original popular music. He brings his 30 plus years of musical experience to Tuba Gin, adding a sophisticated jazz vocabulary and Poignant song-writing to the group while still honoring the traditional elements of New Orleans Jazz.
Tim Cassell Vocals, Cornet
Tim Cassell is also a veteran of the Snopes Family Band, having played with the group from its start in 2010 through 2017. Since 2017 Tim has been a member of the Wobblers, a unique roots band with a heavy emphasis on New Orleans rhythms and featuring a four piece horn section. In addition to playing their own music, the Wobblers frequently team up with internationally known soul and blues singer Wanda Johnson. Tim also occasionally works with the Atlanta based Tray Dahl and the Jugtime Ragband. From performing in a Last Waltz tribute concert, attending blues and jazz jams, and playing with various pick-up brass bands, to sitting in with numerous local bands including Mac Arnold and Plate Full of Blues, the Grateful Brothers, and the beloved Fine Art Ramblers, Tim has been active in the local music scene for more than a decade. In 2018, Tim called together the musicians who would become Tuba Gin to play a single Mardi Gras party at a retirement community, and the rest is history.
Bob Vernier Vocals, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Bob Vernier grew up in Baltimore where he played the clarinet from grade school through high school. After college he started playing the trumpet and moved to the Washington DC area where he worked as an engineer for the US Navy and then NASA, playing trumpet on the side with numerous community bands and working jazz bands including the Swing Time Big Band, Paramount Jazz Orchestra, Hot Society Orchestra of Washington DC, and the Dixieland Express of Maryland. In 2014, Bob returned to his clarinet roots to help out a community band and has been doubling on trumpet and clarinet ever since. He moved to Anderson, SC in 2016 and, in addition to his role in Tuba Gin, plays trumpet with the Greater Anderson Area New Horizons Band, lead alto sax with County Line Jazz Ensemble, and lead tenor sax with Keowee Big
Lynne Holcombe Vocals, Piano, Banjo, Washboard
Building on her early fundamentals of classical piano and her experiences at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville and in the Greenville High marching band, Lynne Holcombe graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a BA in Music Therapy in 2004. She has served as the music director of several upstate schools and has utilized her degree in various jobs working with adults and children with special needs, currently teaching music enrichment classes for pre-K through early elementary age kids with her business Music Adventure, as well as participating in the Smart Arts program through the Metropolitan Arts Council.
Lynne started writing songs and performing under the title Clide vs Crocodiles in the early 2000’s and toured the country in various solo and duo acts. She has developed and performed with a number of ensembles, including the California Bay Area based folk-rock band Paper Crocodiles and Greenville’s neo-americana band Shufflebutton and visuals-heavy roots-folk band Shadowband. In the summer of 2021 Lynne joined Tuba Gin and is delighted to be playing some of her favorite New Orleans style jazz.