Palmetto Catz began performing in 2001 in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Amelia Island. Since then Richard, Tommy and Rick have performed for thousands of corporate events throughout Coastal Georgia and NE Florida. Completing the line-up in 2005 we added keyboardist/vocalist Stevie "Fingers" Saracson. For larger events we add horns.
We play songs that everybody in the room knows - or pretty nearly everybody. It depends on the demographic of the room but we can usually make the crowd very happy - that's the power of popular song, well performed with lots of harmony vocals.
About the players......
Richard Stratton (guitar/vocals) began his musical journey in 1966 as a boy soprano in the Episcopal choir of St. Paul's in Westfield NJ. By 1969 he was fronting his own band on guitar and vocals. In 1980's he received a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in composition and classical guitar from The University Of Georgia and pursued doctoral studies at The University of Iowa. He founded and operated The Iowa City Guitar Foundation for 15 years and has owned and operated a fine dining restaurant on Amelia Island where he now resides. He performs primarily in resort hotels.
Tommy Gilstrap (bass/vocals) studied trombone in elementary school then moved on to drums, guitar and keyboard in high school working in a local band. When his bassist quit he took that up and discovered his primary instrument. In 1970 he played bass on his first label release by 'Felt'. Tommy has played shows with Mary Wells (My Guy), Cecil Womack, Eddie Floyd (Knock on Wood), O.V.Wright and has opened for Archie Bell and the Drells, Kenny Rogers and B.J.Thomas. He was also band leader of the group “Cor” of which Pam Tillis was a member. Later he worked in Nashville doing freelance studio work for RCA/Free Flight and as staff studio bassist for Tree International Music Publishing. Currently he lives in Orange Park Florida.
Rick Kirkland (drums) was the drummer and a featured soloist with the Ray Charles Show during the 1980's and has performed with Benny Goodman, Della Reese, Diane Schuur, Chet Atkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Doc Severinsen, Glen Campbell, Mickey Gilley, Dottie West, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Lionel Hampton, Lou Rawls, Diahann Carroll, Shirley Jones, Englebert Humperdink, Joe Cocker, The Ink Spots, The Four Freshman, The Temptations, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Red Skelton, George Burns, Bob Newhart, Freddie Hubbard, Louie Bellson, Ed Shaughnessy, Buddy DeFranco, Terry Gibbs, Milt Hinton, Ross Thompkins, Marian McPartland, Keter Betts, Major Holley, Herbie Mann....In addition to performing with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Rick is in constant demand as a free-lance concert and studio musician. As an educator, Rick has inspired generations of north Florida performers and instructors, serving as artist-in-residence at several Jacksonville area schools and universities.
Stevie 'Fingers' Saracson (keyboards/vocals) earned a Bachelor of Music (cum laude) from Jacksonville University and has worked with Teddy Washington (James Brown Band), Steve Popovich (A&R Columbia Records,President Cleveland International Records), Little Anthony, The Drifters, and The Platters.