Meet the team that brings Band Together to life
Brian & Renae Hetzer
Brian and Renae are co-founders of Band Together. Brian is responsible for the creation and care of the website. Renae is creative director, our graphic designer, and like the rest of us, wears a variety of other hats. Along with their son Townes, they are fond of travel. When not on the road, they can be found with family in Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee. Having played trumpet, drums, and percussion in school, Brian is now learning his way around his ukulele. Renae has fond memories of guitar and piano lessons from her childhood. They are nurturing a family culture that prioritizes music, nature, and time together.
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young / Rockaway Beach – Ramones / If I Needed You – Townes Van Zandt / I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal – Billy Joe Shaver / Easy Hearts – Whiskeytown / Come Rain or Come Shine – Frank Sinatra / On the Road Again – Willie Nelson / Yellow Submarine – the Beatles / Little Trip to Heaven – Tom Waits / You’re My Home – Billy Joel
Steve Rogers, along with his daughter, Renae, and son-in-law, Brian, is one of the partners in Band Together. As Captain Steve, he teaches the Tune In music lesson in each Band Together album. He also writes and produces each episode of That’s What It’s All About.
Steve is married to his childhood sweetheart, Cindi. Steve and Cindi live in North Central Florida and are active in water sports, especially surfing and paddleboarding. The thrill of their life is being able to spend time with their daughter, Renae, son-in-law, Brian, and grandson, Townes..
Steve’s lifetime love of music, his formal music training, and his 25 years of experience in the music industry and as a music educator make Steve uniquely qualified to teach music in all of its aspects. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Memphis, with a major in commercial music production and a minor in theory and arranging.
Steve is also the author of You Can Play by Ear, an 800-page music textbook that is considered the definitive work on the subject of playing by ear.
In his music industry career, Steve has worked directly with some of the biggest names in the business. Here are several highlights:
- Steve worked with Domingo Samudio (“Sam” of Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, who had Billboard’s record of the year in 1965, “Wooly Bully”) to produce original songs at his studio, Sounds of Memphis, in Memphis, TN.
- He interned with Sam Phillips at Phillips Recording in Memphis (also the studio where “Wooly Bully” was recorded). Sam Phillips is one of original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His legendary Sun Records label first recorded Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and many other music legends.
- Steve was the recording engineer for the Bellamy Brothers (who had the song of the year in 1976 for “Let Your Love Flow”), recording the original demos for some of their biggest hits of the late seventies and early eighties, including their number one country smash “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?”
- As recording engineer and producer, for an entire week Steve worked directly in the studio with Sylvester “Sly” Stone (of Sly and the Family Stone), who played at Woodstock, and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Steve had the opportunity to back up (playing keyboard and singing backup vocals) Johnny Lee’s live performance of his number one hit single, “Looking for Love,” from the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy.
- As a studio musician, Steve has played on over 1,000 recording sessions. (In addition to piano, Steve also plays a number of string instruments, including guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and sitar.)
Steve began playing the piano at the age of four, learning to play simple songs and hymns by ear using the black keys of the piano. He was taught how to do this by his father, who had no music training whatsoever, but who could, with one finger, peck out the melodies of simple songs, using just the black keys. (Neither Steve nor his father knew that they were playing hymns, such as “Amazing Grace” and “In the Sweet By and By,” in the key of F sharp/G flat using the notes in the pentatonic scale.)
At age five, Steve began taking piano lessons, starting with John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers to Play,” a book for which he still has fond memories. He continued piano lessons on and off throughout his teenage years and college. (Steve continues to study piano to this very day, and is currently working on playing Oscar Peterson and Charlie Parker solo transcriptions at their original tempo. According to Steve, “No one ever gets to the point where he should stop learning. Every great musician is a lifelong student.”)
Growing up, Steve realized that, in addition to being able to play the piano via the traditional method (reading the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble and bass staves), he had developed quite an aptitude for being able to play by ear. Using this ability, he has been a member of a number of music groups (including a Christian rock band, a Southern Gospel quartet, a reggae band, two country bands, and a nine-piece soul/R&B group)—none of which ever used any printed music, all of its members relying solely on their ability to play and sing by ear.
Throughout the years, Steve has met hundreds of people who have marveled at (and envied) his ability to, at a party or social gathering, sit down at the piano and field requests as well as accompany singers, all by ear. Many of these people who have envied his play-by-ear ability have taken years of piano lessons, but yet, in the absence of a piece of sheet music, cannot play a single note!
According to Steve, “It seems like the music world is divided into two camps: (1) Those who have only learned to play by reading sheet music and who cannot play by ear, and (2) those who can play by ear, but don’t know how to read music. There is no reason why you and your family shouldn’t learn to do both. Despite popular misconceptions, no one who can play by ear was born with the ability to do so. Everyone who can play by ear learned to do it. Furthermore, anyone can learn both to read music and to play by ear. And through Band Together, we will show you how. Along the way, you’ll have a blast doing it. I guarantee it!”
Wild World – Cat Stevens / Surfer Girl – the Beach Boys / Fishing Blues -Taj Mahal / Java Jive – The Puppini Sisters / Fire and Rain – James Taylor / One Love – Bob Marley / Untitled Hymn – Chris Rice / Sunrise, Sunset – Fiddler on the Roof / Coming to You – Loggins & Messina / So Far Away – Carole King
Afton Brown is the host of our Conversations podcast. She is a life-long resident of North Florida, where she met her husband, Chuck. They have two girls and a baby boy, a full-time printing business, and 25 acres on a small lake. Music is a staple in her life, and she has loved singing since before she could talk. In Afton’s words, they are “unlikely homeschoolers, learning to live slower, healthier and more intentional lives.”
Now That I Found You – Terri Clark / Small Town Saturday Night – Hal Ketchum / At Last – Etta James / Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days) – the Judds / Don’t Take Away My Heaven – Aaron Neville / Eye of the Storm – Ryan Stevens / Let There Be Love – Natalie Cole / I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash / Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake / Linus & Lucy (Peanuts Theme Song) – Vince Guaraldi
Caty Foster is our animator. She is responsible for bringing That’s What It’s All About to life, along with anything else that moves on our site. She just got married to a swell guy named Michael, whom she met in church choir! They are both professional musicians, and look forward to having a musical family together.
Hedwig’s Theme – John Williams / St. Luke Passion – Krzysztof Penderecki / Morning Has Broken / Illuminations of the Beyond – Olivier Messiaen / Lion King Soundtrack / Requiem Mass – Maurice Duruflé / How To Train Your Dragon Soundtrack / Années de pèlerinage – Franz Liszt / Spain – Chick Corea / L’Amour de loin – Kaija Saariaho
Tyler & Leslianne Newberry
Tyler and Leslianne Newberry are our current artists in residence. Not only are they gifted musicians, but Tyler also is a craftsman, creating under the moniker Nice Custom Goods. Leslianne is a calligraphy artist, and together they serve as worship leaders at Second Baptist Houston’s south campus. They have three children, two cats, and bring you Soul Food Café each month.
Manny & Hannah Mayo
Manny and Hannah are the photography and video team for Band Together. Hannah has been working as a professional photographer since 2008 as Hannah Mayo Photography. Manny more recently began working alongside her, as well as on his own video projects, and started Sky’s Edge Aerial Imaging in 2017. They live in South Florida with their children Seth, Isaac, Eaden, and one more baby boy is due in March 2018. They have homeschooled since 2014, and prioritize a family culture immersed in the arts and nature.
Such Great Heights-The Postal Service/ Ho Hey-The Lumineers/ Bach Cello Suite No.1 I’m G Major-Yo Yo Ma/ Blowin in the Wind-Bob Dylan/ I Won’t Give Up-Jason Mraz/ I was Made for Lovin’ You-KISS/ Hey Jude-The Beatles/ Shake it Out-Florence and the Machine/ You and I-Ingrid Michaelson/ How Can I Tell You-Cat Stevens