Donna Hamilton Lead Vocals
Donna hails from Walton’s Mountain in the little village of Schuyler, Virginia, where hillbilly music abounds. Donna’s voice is her instrument. She was obsessed with music from a young age while sitting at her grandfather’s feet watching him pluck the neck of a banjo; followed by her father’s guitar playing at home to some of the best bluegrass and country musicians of the day. Music has been a dear companion since. Too shy to sing Pat Benatar with a high school band when asked, the opportunity has rolled back around again with 180. In the interim, she has enjoyed performing with some local greats over the past 20 years; singing lead with a Portland, Oregon based blues band to having a successful 11 year run with her own band, TigerLily. “I believe that music is magic and has the power to raise the vibrations…”. Donna lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her herd of cats and her lovely wife, Ellie.
Chuck Johnston – Drums/Groove Master
Chuck Johnston started playing drums in seventh grade, practicing his rudiments on a piece of 2X4 supported by two folding chairs. He took lessons from a neighbor in exchange for mowing his lawn, and bought his first used drum set in eight grade. Chuck played in marching band, rock bands and a soul band in high school and college, and then in a unit band in the Navy. Since then he has played on and off for many years, until finally being able to join up with “180.” Chuck is excited about the opportunity to play with such an excellent group of musicians (not to mention great guys!).
Ken Kotarski – Keyboard
Originally from New Jersey, Ken was introduced to music at an early age of 7. He started taking accordion lessons and played in the music school band. At 13 years old he made the transition from accordion to organ and piano. He was in various bands throughout his high school years. After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ken became proficient in multiple keyboards, performing in various music projects including some recording studio work and touring cross country. As time went on Ken met his wife, Maureen, and decided to settle down moving on to his next passion with computers as a software engineer. He continued his musical interests serving as a church pianist/organist for various churches in area. In 1994, Ken with his wife, Maureen and their two children, Crystal and Craig relocated to Charlottesville. Ken continued to utilize his keyboard skills in the local church and played in a variety of musical events in the Central Virginia area. Ken is thrilled to have met and now be a part of the fine musicians that make up the 180 Band.
Kevin Russell – Electric Guitar
Kevin has been playing guitar since his early 20’s, influenced by the great rock bands of the 70’s. Kevin played in a number of small pickup bands with friends until he joined up with the original formation of 180 (formerly known as Metanoia). His wife, Susy, an alumnus and original member, played violin with the band for a number of years. That’s probably why he is allowed to keep playing in the band despite having an active family with kids in swimming, travel soccer games and more! Even so, Kevin also plays in the popular Full Moon Saloon band. You can catch Kevin on facebook.
Robert Schwagerl – The Best Sound Engineer
Robert was our first sound engineer and kick butt rodie! He makes sure we always have enough power for the gigs. He carts and sets up our equipment everywhere we play. After the initial setup he’ll get our sound check going and monitor us though the show. He has to put up with a vocal group of performers wanting to hear “more me!” most of the time.
Jim Smith – Bass
Jim Smith joined the band during the summer of 2005. Jim started out as a guitar player back in grade school. After some inspiration from his next-door neighbor and his piano-playing son, Jim decided to learn the bass in 1999 and has hasn’t looked back since. Jim has been happily married for more than 20 years, and his wife somehow manages to understand why he needs each new amplifier, guitar, speaker, etc. When 180 plays their first Grateful Dead song, you can thank (or blame!) Jim. You can catch Jim on facebook. Also, check out the great work Jim has been doing with bringing clean drinking water and jobs to those in need. Catch up on this important work called “Pure Madi” on facebook.
Mike Spivey – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Mike, a self-taught musician, has been playing guitar since the tender age of 12. He was turned on to the instrument one year at summer camp when, in the evenings, one of the male counselors sat around the campfire playing tunes. Mike couldn’t help but notice that the female campers (and counselors) were drawn to this guy like a magnet! Thus, one was acquired shortly after his return home (a guitar, not a girl). Thanks to a grandmother in Florida (Granny Ruth) who owned her own record shop and kept him supplied with a fresh stack of hot wax 45’s every other month or so, Mike was exposed to a variety of musical influences ranging from Elvis to Led Zeppelin [yes, Mike is older than Yoda!] The journey toward Metanoia began quietly and humbly when Mike and Frank Squillace played a couple of songs for a church talent show after which the two looked at each other and said “ya know, we oughta do this more often!” The seed was planted. Years later….ladies and gentlemen…Metanoia! Mike happily resides in Afton with his most devoted fan, groupie, publicist, critic, and oft-times roadie, Liz (did I mention wife?) and their two daughters, Lauren and Julia. Mike also plays in the the popular Full Moon Saloon band. You can catch Mike on facebook.
Frank Squillace – Lead Vocals, Heavy Cello, Band Manager
Frank was the founder of 180 (formerly known as Metanoia) in 1998 and continues to be overwhelmed at the response of the community. “People are looking for good, clean, classic rock and roll to enjoy with their families – I think we’re filling a niche!” Frank is happily married to his wife Jane and is the father of Leia and Joe and stepfather of four who enjoys spending time with all of them, friends, baseball, and music. He has played the cello for 50 years and credits ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) for his joy of playing “rock cello!”