Lil Debbie Lambert
Lil Debbie Lambert Lil’ Debbie hails from Chicago where she grew to love and internalize the blues…how appropriate as Chicago is after all the Mecca for the world of the Blues! While in Chicago she fronted the very popular blues band, “3RD Degree”. She is featured with 3rd Degree on the band’s 1999 Blu Dog record release of “Color Me Blue”. After moving to Phoenix she continued to express her Blues passion by starting and fronting the band, “Lil’ Debbie and Blue Plate Special.” After several years, Debbie finally decided to diversify the genre of the music she sings. While you will still find a good chunk of blues in her set list, with Debbie and the latest evolution of her band, now called “Lil’ Debbie Band”, you can now hear her signing in addition to the blues the best of classic rock, current hits, Motown and other styles of music (sorry no speed metal or rap!).
In many ways Debbie is married to the band….chiefly because she is really married to the bass player and chief roadie, Dennis. But in addition to that obvious relationship Debbie is the first to affectionately point out that the band is more than a bunch of musicians getting together playing music. There are deep friendships throughout and a bond that spells family more so than band. Debbie is confident that this fondness is apparent to all that come out and see the band. When she is not performing Debbie can be found engaged in her other love of life, teaching pre-school aged children. So yes she is a teacher by day and a rock n roll singer by night! …Talk about diversity!
Jill “Cookie” Fortunato
Jill joined the Lil’ Debbie Band as one of its two guitarists in early 2010 after being one of the band’s biggest fans. While attending the band’s gigs they would often ask Jill to come up and sit in with the group and play a few songs along with band. It didn’t take long for the group to take note of her ability and to ask her to officially join the band. Since signing on with the group she has added a whole new dimension to the band with both her rhythmic abilities and her wonderful presence upon the stage, (Let’s face it, having two “chicks” in the band is just darn cool…especially when they look as pretty as Debbie & Jill!). Speaking of two chicks in a band, Jill cites as her biggest musical influences Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. In addition to her physical and musical presence on stage, Jill also manages the band’s PR and social media. When she’s not out jamming with the band Jill is a wife, mom of two amazing kids and works as a Director for American Express.
Dennis & Lil’ Debbie are a package deal having met in High School, and married for over 25 years, anything Debbie has done, Dennis was there too. (Albeit, in the background of Lil’ Debbie’s brightly lit aura…and that’s the way he likes it!). So pretty much review Debbie’s musical bio, and apply it to Dennis’s. Whatever band she has been in, he’s been behind her laying down thick mud and a distinctive foundation (wacky bass terms) for Debbie to sing upon. What else can be said of Dennis and his related musical accomplishments??? In addition to being the guy that can be found “slapping the bass”, he also serves as the band’s manager, coordinator, and chief roadie. From booking gigs to taping down mic chords, Dennis contributes in a variety of ways to the overall success of the “Lil’ Debbie Band”.
Dave LaraDave plays drums all the time….seriously. When he’s not on stage you will always find him pounding his fingers on something to the beat of something going on in his mind. So if Dave never stops playing drums, the question becomes, when did he start playing? Dave’s eternal pounding began in elementary school where he taught himself to play along with the albums of Led Zeppelin and others. Dave went on to play formally with others in traditional grade school bands and then with Symphonic and marching bands throughout high school and college. Dave also began to rock out with bands at a very early age playing clubs in New Mexico beginning at age 18.
Dave’s percussive influences are many and include Mitch Mitchell, Louie Bellson, Ian Paice, Jon Bonham, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham and all of the British Invasion drummers of the 60’s! Dave’s drumming can be heard on two CD’s; Vinyl Nova’s “House of Joy” and of course on Lil’ Debbie & Blue Plate Special’s “What’s So Special”. Speaking of Lil’ Debbie, Dave joined the band very early on after the band’s original drummer couldn’t make a gig and Dave sat in. After hearing Dave, the band had absolutely no other choice. Dave became our drummer from that moment on and has been part of the family for 9+ years…and the beat still goes on!!!
(Keys & Horns)
Prior to the last about 10 years with Lil’ Debbie & Blue Plate Special, Erik’s musical resume rings wet with inspiring accomplishment. Erik has been playing music his entire life, playing trumpet in high school Jazz, Marching , Pep Band and Orchestra…and of course, he was first chair where ever there was a chair to be had. Erik also won the coveted John Philip Sousa award for outstanding player his senior year. His High School accomplishments transferred to his musical experience at Western Michigan University where he played trumpet all his college years and was trumpet section leader for trumpets for 4 years…his “chairmanship” continued into college where he was of course, a 4 year first chair musician for the jazz band. Once in Arizona, Erik hooked up with the ASU Marching and Jazz Repertory band where he earned first chair honors from 2001-2004.
Outside the academic arena, Erik flat out rocks. He toured the west coast playing keys with a Bon Jovi tribute band, he was a member of the well respected Phoenix based band “Polliwog” and while in Michigan he was a member of the band “Crystal Faith” which nearly signed a record deal with Warner Brother records. Erik is one of the founding members of the original “Lil’ Debbie & Blue Plate Special” and he’s been with us from the very start over 10 years ago…which makes him that much more special to us! Just watch and listen, his talents are most impressive!!!
Bill MillerBill Miller began playing guitar at the age of 18 while a freshmen at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was on a full scholarship for swimming. It’s not really clear what the pool and the guitar have in common, but the 4 time All-American swimmer had a natural gift for both. Influenced by artists such as Larry Carlton, Robin Trower, Eric Johnson, Garry Moore, Peter Frampton and Lincoln Brewster, Bill has developed his own rock/blues flair. He is an amazing improvisational player, but can also effortlessly play just about anything by ear. Bill has played a number of different guitars over the years.
His first guitar, a Fender Telecaster, was eventually replaced with a Les Paul Custom (or two) and he favors a PRS these days as well. On rare occasion he may also break out his Taylor 914 acoustic. His performance history started with a band called “Ram” and early on, he also played in a Christian rock group named “3:16”. The combination of music and faith remains strong with him today as he shares his talent with his church orchestra at the Foothills Baptist Church. We’ve been lucky enough to have him as part of the Lil’ Debbie family since 2007 and hopefully for many years to come!
Lil Debbie Lambert