Band Bio's

Shelly Thiss—Hometown—Richmond, VA

Shelly Thiss is a Richmond raised girl born in the wrong decade. Her sultry, smokey stylings finally found their way into the midst of this stellar band of gentlemen in the summer of 2008. 

She's been present around the open mic and karaoke scene of Richmond since returning from James Madison University in 2007, but this is her first opportunity at playing out in her home town with an organized band. 

She previously was a part of JMU's BluesTones, an all female a cappella group, as well as fronted Shelly and the Innocent Bystanders, an amateur swing band that was featured on VCU Film department's All That Swazz (aired on PBS in 2007). 

She'd like to thank the boys for this incredible opportunity, and all her family, friends, and random strangers who let her burst into song whenever the moment struck without throwing something at her.

Mike Lucci—Hometown—Aliquippa, PA—(Center Township)

1016969 544877048912727 1620255561 n

Mike Lucci grew up in the late sixties listening to the songs of Led Zepplin, George Thorogood, the Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. Unbeknownst to Mike at the time these songs had actually been written by great blues songwriters such as Willie Dixon, McKinley Morganfield, John Lee Hooker, J.B. Lenior, and Etta James. 

It wasn’t until the mid nineties, when Mike started bass lessons, that he re-discovered his roots within the blues. Mike’s greatest influences for bass playing are mostly out of Chicago; Willie Kent, Bob Stroger, Johnny B. Gayden, Nick Holt, Jassen Wilbur and Willie Dixon are a few of his favorites. 

Initially, Mike played bass in a local Hanover County Virginia band named Quesabluz. From there he co-formed Sugar Daddy and the Two Dollar Blues Band with Ron Winston. Mike also has many memorable times sitting in with Johnny and the Lowdowns. You can hear his playing with Sugar Daddy and the Two Dollar Blues Band on the two releases made by the River City Blues Society for support of the “Blues in the Schools” Program. Back in 2008, 

Mike has had the privilege to record for the Forrest McDonald Band. Mike can be heard on two cuts of the Forrest McDonald Band CD titled “There’s Nothing Wrong with Dreaming”. But, Mike is most honored to be playing with his current band-mates; all of whom have great musical talent and contribute solid rhythms, great classic blues leads, and outstanding blues vocals and harmony.  

Mike would like to thank his family for tolerating the many years of band practices, Chuck Harrell for his patience as a teacher and Kenny Hughes for giving him his first band opportunity.   

Mike plays his four and a five string fretless Lakland basses with flatwound strings through a Vanderkley “Spartan” Amp and two Vanderkley 115MN6 Neolite cabinets.  Mike’s bass collection also includes a Yamaha RBX765 5-string Electric bass and his Ibanez TR-50 starter bass autographed by Willie Kent.

Rick Manson—Hometown— Charlottesville, VA

Rick 10

Rick Manson has been playing Harmonica and performing professionally for eighteen years..He was a student and protégé’ of New York blues legend Nat Riddles. Rick has also studied and played with Phil Wiggins, Joe Filisko, Dennis Gruening, and Carlos del Junco. 

He has presented workshops at the Virginia Harmonica Fest, and at many area schools and universities. With Sheryl Warner and the Southside Homewreckers, he has played in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. 

Rick is a veteran of several local bands including The Detonators, The Smokin’ Section, The Brian Doherty Trio and Sheryl Warner and the Southside Homewreckers. He has recorded with several local artists and was recently featured on Scott Perry’s CD Hero Worship. 

Rick has played with Johnny and the Lowdowns since the spring of 2006 through 2009. His stage experience and blues background have enabled him to easily integrate his musical style into tThe Mike Lucci band.

Mark Saurs - Hometown - Richmond, VA

Mark Saurs 2

Mark Saurs is a veteran of the Richmond blues scene. He started playing at a young age, and his playing has since spanned the gamut from standards to Top 40, to downright “dirty” blues. His musical influences include Eric Clapton, Foghat, Allman Brothers and “anyone else that knows how to kick up the back beat and turn it up to 11”.

Strat's, Tele's, Les Paul's, PRS, Billy Bo's and White Falcon guitars are some of the coolest instruments made.    Over the years I've picked up and held onto these "fantasy" guitars.    Playing and learning about them has been an obsession for most of my adult life.

I began my journey at the age of 15.    Started hanging around with the teen age "wunder kids" of my area.    Cut my teeth in a a variety of teen bands and then made my bones after college playing any and everything that would pay a buck and a quarter.    Even back then I worried a bit about losing myself and my direction solely in the pursuit of playing in the cover bands that scored the big pay days.

I've tried to pick up something from everyone.    I remember a quote from Randy Rhoads (go figure - I don't play anything like him) -- "If you take or give a lesson every week your music will always be growing."   That made so much sense to me that I've always tried to sit down with someone once a week and have them show me something or show them something.   

As I progressed through my adulthood I played any and everything I could for so long that one day I looked at myself (literally) in the mirror one morning and said, "Enough!"    It was the blues I started with and it was the blues that forever and always has been within my heart.    I decided then and there that I was only going to play what I believed in and what I could pour myself into.

I threw myself into projects that allowed me to hone my blues skills.    I've worked in some great projects that provided me with terrific opportunities to showcase my playing.     These other projects gave back to me as much or more than I gave to them.   I like to think of those as "win-win" situations.    Lord knows I'm grateful for them all.

In 2012 I was inducted into the Northern Virginia Blues Hall of Fame.    That day was one for the scrap book.    Being inducted with such luminaries as Billy Hancock (Bass player with Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanon) and Pete Ragusa (Drummer with The Nighthawks and Tom Principato) was an honor beyond anything I ever expected.

All of this has led up to becoming part of THE MIKE LUCCI BAND.    I cannot imagine anything better.    Having known and liked all the members of the band for the past 5 years it all feels like such a natural turn of events.    It is a true blessing to be able to walk on stage with people that I like, respect and admire.   This is where I am supposed to be and it is a privilege to be able to contribute to the music this band produces.     I am of the opinion that there is so much waiting for us and the best is yet to come.

My lovely wife and I just celebrated our 16th anniversary and I am truly lucky to say that I'm married to her.   She loves and supports all of my musical efforts to the point that I refer to all accomplishments as 'Our" accomplishments.

I look forward to getting a chance to meet you somewhere soon down the road where we'll be laying down the blues Hot, Spicy and Chicago Styled!!

James Brown - Hometown - Norfolk, VA

James Brown is a native of Norfolk Va. He started his musical journey at the tender age of 9 years old as the lead singer with an intercity boy band that was popular around the city in the 70’s. During his high school years, he sang in local club bands that performed mostly on the southern circuit between the Carolinas and Northern Va.

After passing his vocal audition with the US Airforce Band in 1980, he spent 22 of a 24-year military career as a vocalist, auxiliary percussionist, live sound and recording engineer. In his experiences as a vocalist, he has performed music from every genre and shared the stage with some of music’s legendary Icons.

His time on active duty serving in the capacity of a musical ambassador afforded him the opportunity to travel all over the continental U.S. and 43 foreign countries sharing his love of the universal language.

New to the greater Richmond area Blues scene, James is the newest member and drummer for The Mike Lucci Band. 

© The Mike Lucci Band - 2023