Meet The Band
Hailing from the Fresh Coast, Speak Easy, the Great Lakes based Rasta-Funk band is rallying the people for a musical revolution. Mixing melodies and riddim’s of early roots reggae and modern funk rock, Speak Easy’s fresh, groovy sound is bound to bring high energy and good vibes to whatever stage they play.
The members of Speak Easy all attended Michigan State University’s College of Music, where they developed and fostered deep friendships over a mutual love for music and performance. At MSU, they honed their skills under some of the nation’s most notable classical and jazz professors, and spent their time performing with local and national acts. However, it wasn’t until post-graduation that Speak Easy came into fruition. Now, after dedicating their lives to their individual crafts, Speak Easy is ready to come together to share one musical vision.
Despite the nature of show business, speakin’ it easy is more than just a name for the members of Speak Easy, it is a way of life. Although the loudest individual voice in a crowd is always heard, the softer spoken opinions of the masses often go unnoticed. Speak Easy strives for their music to be a voice for the voiceless in our world, not to mention a nonstop, funky-reggae party! So sit back, relax, and Speak Easy.
Connor Ralph has been performing as a professional singer for over a decade in a wide variety of genres and settings. He has performed with the MSU Accafellas, studied privately with former Metroploitan Opera tenor and MSU Vocal Arts Chair Richard Fracker, and has toured with choirs and original bands since 2008. Connor believes in the power of music and hopes to share that message with all of his listeners.
Olin Clark is a guitarist originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University and performing music professionally. He plays with several bands as well as leading a project of his own. Olin has performed with artists around the US and internationally including Etienne Charles & Creole Soul, Kim Vi and the Siblings, and Vulfpeck in addition to his regular gig at Cliff Bells in Detroit with his trio.
Joe Vasquez is a recent graduate of the MSU Jazz Studies Master’s Program under the direction of world renowned bassist, Rodney Whitaker. He currently has recorded on three professional jazz albums which are among over 10 professional recordings total, in the last 4 years. Joe has also played with countless nationally recognized jazz artists including Diego Rivera, Etienne Charles, Keith Hall, Xavier Davis, Michael Dease, Randy Napoleon, Nate Winn, Randy Gillespie, and Sean Dobbins. Joe has always had a passion and hunger to grow as a musician and as a person. He continues to push his career and his art forward in the hopes that he can inspire and unify his audiences.
Jordan Otto, our drummer, was born and raised in southeast Michigan and began playing drums at the age of 12. He attended Michigan State University, followed by Western Michigan University to further his studies in music. Jorday continues to travel both throughout the US and internationally to perform and record on drum set and percussion. He has performed in Japan, Cuba, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Egypt, and Dominica. He has shared the stage with Branford Marsalis, Terrell Stafford, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Rodney Whitaker, Ed Simon, Steve Wilson, Lucas Pino, and many more.
Nathan Walker is a recent graduate of Michigan State University. While there, he studied classical double bass with renowned professor Jack Budrow. His background and training allow him to pursue a career in many different areas of performing music. Nathan takes his seat at the keyboard when performing with Speak Easy, searching for new and creative ways to share his musical ideas.
Julian Velasco Cali born and bred, Julian brings the West Coast vibe to the Fresh Coast. Julian studies saxophone at Michigan State University with Diego Rivera and performs professionally nation wide.