SOUTHERN RUKUS

"Country With a Twist"

THOMAS BLAKENEY

Tom was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL where he as been entertaining people with his distinctive vocal style for many years.  Around 1980, he started performing in various nightclubs in and around the Jacksonville area singing karaoke.  In late summer of 2004, he helped place an ad in the local Jacksonville newspaper to look for local musicians interested in joining a Country music band and became one of the founding members of SOUTHERN RUKUS.    

JESSIE WAGNER

Jessie was born in a little town just north of Memphis,TN on the Mississippi River; Luxora, AR.  He began his love for music at the young age of 14 when his mother gave him a guitar and showed him three chords.  At 17, he took the blues melodies he heard from living on the river and mixed it with southern gospel music to form his own band with some high school friends.  A few short years later he joined the U.S. Navy and took his love for music abroad.  He played in three different bands that performed at numerous USO shows throughout Europe playing Top 40 and Classic Rock music until he retired from the Navy.  His first introduction to playing Country music full time was with a band called Blue Steel from Jacksonville, FL.  In July 2004, he answered an ad in the local Jacksonville newspaper and became one of the founding members of SOUTHERN RUKUS.

DENNIS PRIES

Dennis was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa.  At the age of 13 he started with a pair of drum sticks and used the couch as his drum set.  After many lawn mowing jobs he bought his first drum and continued with odd jobs until he had a full set.  During High school he played in the marching band and jazz band.  Then directly after high school he joined a band that went on tour and also played with numerous other bands during his off time.  A few years later he joined the Navy and continued to play with fellow sailors performing gigs overseas.  After 22 years of service to his country he still has the desire to play music.  Dennis started setting in with the SRB the summer of 2008 as a fill-in drummer and ended joining in the spring of 2009.

JACOB PRIEST

Jacob was born in Orange Park, FL.  He Picked up an acoustic guitar at age 12 and started lessons from a local musician Alex Affronti who soon became his mentor.  At 14, he began sitting in with local musicians during their shows and soon thereafter got his first electric guitar.  He quickly earned respect from fellow musicians for his professionalism and ability to blend in to any situation.  He has performed every type of gig from local bars and clubs to corporate events at Amelia Island, opening for national acts and playing with a variety of bands and musicians over the years.  He grew up listening to all different styles of music but Country, Southern Rock, and Americana has always been his favorite.  He has learned many styles of instrumental riffs on the guitar over the years including classical and jazz finger styles.  He started sitting in with the SRB in 2013 as a fill-in guitarist and ended up joining in the spring of 2019.

JOHN JARRELL

John was born in Raleigh, NC and raised in Maggie Valley, NC.  John started out his music career by learning to play the drums at the young age of 9.  Over the next few years, he also learned how to play the banjo and a few chords on the guitar.  By 12 he started playing his dad's upright bass and soon realized that would be the instrument he wanted to develop his talents on.  Throughout the years John has played Bluegrass, Country, Southern Rock and Rockabilly music with several bands and performers in several different states.  While in the Nashville, TN area, he performed with artist such as James Monroe, Raymond Fairchild, Jimmy Bowen and Santa Fe, Ken Mellons and several other local bands/performers.  John performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry for the first time ever in 2008 with James Monroe.  John recently moved to Keystone Heights, FL and joined the SRB in the spring of 2022.