Meet the members of On Easy Street
Chip Hammond, drums
Chip began playing drums when he was 12. In his high school years he had the privilege of studying percussion with Dr. Alyn J. Heim and jazz drum set with Carl Wolf. By age 15 Chip was gigging around the New York metro area with various bands doing popular music, and with the Don Pierce Orchestra doing standards for up-scale events. In the high school music program Chip played in the marching band, orchestra, and the jazz band, and was the drummer in the pit orchestra for the school’s production of Godspell. His music began to take a back seat when he started college. His last musical endeavors included playing drums for the pit orchestra for his college’s production of The Fantastics. While studying at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, he played a one-night performance of blues for the student body and faculty with one of his professors, Rev. Dr. William Edgar (jazz pianist with a B.A. in ethnomusicology from Harvard). Education, marriage, family, more education, etc. led to a long hiatus from music. Today Chip is the pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Leesburg, a Teaching Fellow with the C.S. Lewis Institute’s Fellows Program, and a published author. After his long hiatus from playing music he is back at it. He enjoys the personalities and creativity of his band mates, the opportunity to make music with his wife, and greeting old friends and meeting new people at gigs, and sharing "the greatest music ever written."
Donna Hammond, vocals, keyboard, hand percussion
Donna's love of singing stretches back as far as she can remember. Although she had 8 years of formal piano instruction (plus brief efforts at cello and guitar), her vocal training has mostly come through workshops and excellent choir directors. Donna has performed with multiple school and church choirs and in several musical theater productions, and has experience as a choir director and soloist. In 2016 completed a class in vocal jazz performance at The Vocal Workshop in Vienna which culminated in a performance at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club with the Chris Grasso Trio. When her husband's jazz band lost its vocalist, they asked Donna to "fill in" and she never left. Now she thoroughly enjoys the friendships made with her On Easy Street band mates and their families and loves sharing live music with all kinds of audiences. When not working on music or in her job as a church administrator, Donna enjoys gardening, reading, and caring for her latest interest: several planted aquariums full of tropical fish.
Chris Thompson, bass
Multi-instrumentalist Chris Thompson has been performing music for discerning audiences since the 1990's. Originally from Philadelphia, Chris cut his teeth playing guitar in soul, funk, and R&B bands. A life-long jazz aficionado, Chris loves the role he plays as the bassist in the band.
Jackson Valad, Guitar
Jackson Valad has played guitar since childhood. Starting at age 7, Jackson took formal lessons, played in School of Rock, and formed his own bands by his early teens. He was the guitarist in the Black Tie Project, a band of Woodson and Robinson High School students, playing small house parties and school events. With a certificate in Music Recording Technology from Northern Virginia Community College, Jackson is well-versed in Audio Technology such as Protools, microphones, and basic console operations. An interesting fact about Jackson, his main instrument is 64 years old! That's 40 years older than him!