Meet the Band Members...

Lead Guitarist and Singer Kevin O'Connor

Kevin was born to play the blues. When he lived in Chicago he played with west side blues legend Jimmy Dawkins and his bass player Cornelius Boyson from the Howlin' Wolf band of the '60s and also Wolfs' drummer Ray Scott. He played festivals as a hot shot young guitarist and jammed with the locals including Jumping Willie at Joetta's New Look Bar on the west side, Lefty Diz and Jimmy Smith up on the north side. Kevin joined a band called Howard and the White Boys, the opening act for Buddy Guy at Buddy Guy's legends. Jimmy Dawkins called on him for tours of the east and west coasts of the U.S.; then on to Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Kevin put his guitar down for a while when his daughter was born and took a job on a night shift to spend days with her, but lately he says "I find just like my old boss Jimmy Dawkins used to say, 'I can't shake these blues'!"--

Oren "Doc" Plous

Oren has an exceptional career as a retinal surgeon, but "Doc" makes the keyboards sing when he plays with Bluestar. Usually seen between two keyboards (and sometimes one of his Hammond B3's) his ability to transpose and add content to the band is truly amazing. It's no wonder Oren is a favorite for Soul Bluesman Johnny Rawls joining him for appearances in Chicago, and on the annual Blues Cruise.


The Velvet Hammer

Beth the Velvet Hammer began playing accordion when she was five. In fact, she played her accordion at a fund raiser for President John F. Kennedy as a youngster, and got to meet him at the time. Beth worked in broadcasting, radio then television, and has the distinction of having interviewed 4 U.S. presidents. Bass and blues are what she loves now. She met Johnny through their mutual work with the late blues icon James Peterson. Beth also does a blues radio show Velvet Hammer Blues on WSLR Community Radio,, produces music videos, designs websites, publishes CD's for musicians, records commercial announcements, and writes music.

Saxophonist Michael Pawlus

Michael cut his teeth on blues, rock and big band music from the age of 17 in his hometown of Chicago. He joined Bluestar about 6 months ago and delights audiences with his sax solos. He also plays keyboards. The 20 year Sarasota resident and periodontist played in Chicago's Moonlight jazz orchestra, and while in Gainesville was part of the house band at Lillians. His Sarasota credits range from The Alternators, to the Kara Nally Band, Cahoots, and the Flying V Jazz Quartet.



Drummer Vinny Vingelli

Vinny grew up in Brooklyn, where he attended Empire technical school. He has played rock and roll for years, played with Sarasota's Main Street Station Band, and most recently played with Koko Ray. Over the years he's played with many bands in Sarasota, including the Suncoast Sidemen and more.



Our Founder and Former Lead Singer Johnny Guitar

It is a with a heavy heart that we announce that our lead singer and guitarist, "Johnny Guitar" has passed in October of 2023. He walked the walk and talked the talk of a longtime journeyman Blues artist. Born and raised in West Central Florida, he established himself as a Bluesman early in his life. By the time he was 13 years old, Johnny had played every venue available to him around his home in Brooksville. He brought his act to Tampa, and built a reputation as a solid bluesman and entertainer. He loved to sing and play the guitar.


Enjoy a Bluestar Video!