Tom Starr

Tom Starr joined the Continentals in 2009, having played the piano since he was 5. He trained classically for over 17 years, won several music scholarships as a teenager in Utica NY, and served as the choir accompanist while a student at Hamilton College, where he also discovered physics and jazz. He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971, and served on Wisconsin's faculty until 1981, when he and his family moved to the milder Raleigh climate. Currently, he consults part-time on health and environmental issues relating to chemicals and drugs, and has been studying jazz improvisation with Durham jazz pianist/educator Ed Paolantonio for the past 6 years.

Steve Granger

Bass player extrodinaire!


Vernon Janke comes from a musical family. His mother played and taught piano and his dad played accordion and stringed bass. Vernon started beating on everything in the house at an early age, so his mother, in self-defense, gave him a snare drum, a pair of brushes, and numerous records of “big band” music. By the time he was 15, he was the “kid drummer” in his parent’s swing band. He learned percussion through private lessons and in the public school band program, and played in the Governor’s School Orchestra, studying under Michael Rosen. He played snare drum and timpani in high school and in the N.C. State University Bands and now is timpanist with the Raleigh Concert Band. Over the last 40 years he has played jazz gigs with a variety of small local combos, and is an “on call” drummer for The Casablanca Orchestra, The Moonlighters Orchestra, and The Tuneswinger’s Orchestra. Having been an “on call” drummer for the Continentals for many years, he started in a full-time position in 2012.

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