About the Band

The Gold Coast Orchestra has performed in almost every hotel, convention center, private club and banquet facility in the metro Chicago Area. Many of the special event directors at these facilities recommend The Gold Coast Orchestra to their various clients, which is a very strong endorsement!



DJ Dougherty, The Gold Coast Orchestra leader, has been playing in Chicago’s top orchestras and bands since he was 14 years old. After receiving the “Who’s Who in Music Award” in High School, he majored in music at DePaul University. After writing and arranging several musical productions, he toured with “Dave Major & The Minors” Chicago’s best known Show Band. There were 5 musicians and 40 instruments, and every member had to constantly switch from instrument to instrument, sing, and do comedy bits. After traveling the world, DJ became the Gold Coast Orchestra bandleader in 1987. He is a marvelous keyboard player, an excellent MC, and a wonderful vocalist possessing a terrific stage presence. He has been on stage his entire adult life, which gives him tremendous skills in pacing your musical choices, and leading this incredibly talented group of performers.




The Gold Coast Orchestra has the perfect female R & B singer. Michelle Thomas has the ideal background for singing all styles of music, especially Motown classics, 70’s & 80’s R & B, and contemporary hits. She is the daughter of a minister, and grew up singing gospel music in several churches doing solo and choir work. After getting her degree in music, she diversified by adding a huge repertoire of jazz standards, recording CD’s, and performing at clubs throughout the country. Michelle is a guest lecturer, workshop clinician, vocal instructor, and a fabulous singer in the Gold Coast Orchestra.





This dynamic and energetic singer is not only an extremely talented vocalist, but he is a movie star! He has been in films with Goldie Hawn, Wesley Snipes, and Woody Harrelson. He has been on Hill Street Blues, and performed in several productions of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Keith performed throughout high school and college in various productions and choruses. However, his most important skill is being a terrific lead vocalist in the Gold Coast Orchestra. Whether singing top 40 hits, Motown Classics, or R & B favorites, he performs with an enthusiasm which is contagious. He always has a fabulous smile, and a sincere determination, to perform at 100% every event.


ALLEN TATARA (Lead Guitar & Vocals)

ALLEN TATARA (Lead Guitar & Vocals)

Allen has been playing guitar and singing since he was 8 years old, and has been on stage performing ever since. A wonderful musician, with the additional gift of being a fine vocalist has made him a very important component of the Gold Coast Orchestra. Playing guitar was not enough! He also plays piano, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. As a prolific songwriter, Allen has written more than 170 songs in a variety of musical styles, and a number of his songs have been recorded by other artists. He has toured throughout the country, and now has been working with The Gold Coast Orchestra the last 12 years.




Incredible background! Wonderful skills! A terrific musician! This describes the bass player in The Gold Coast Orchestra. Donn received his degree from DePaul University, and began to travel around the country, playing regularly with the biggest names in the industry. He is currently the bass instructor at Chicago State University, where he teaches acoustic and electric bass. His trademark is playing every style of music with incredible taste, at the perfect volume, with a flare that makes the entire orchestra absolutely groove.



Kevin is the engine that drives The Gold Coast Orchestra, playing every style of music, with tremendous energy. He has fantastic feel, developed from years of playing in so many projects, from High School Jazz Band and College Jazz Orchestras, to playing clubs and concerts. Keeping impeccable time is so important in a large orchestra with horns and complicated vocals, and Kevin is a machine that never misses. He has been the anchor for 16 years!



Like so many musicians, Fritz has been performing in many musical projects since he was a young boy. He attended DePaul University, which lead to playing with such greats as The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners, Tony Bennett and many others. He has been heard on commercials for McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Ameritech, Sprint, American Airlines, and countless others. Besides being a terrific performer in the Gold Coast Orchestra, Fritz books and coordinates touring orchestras with Rod Stewart, Peter Cetera, Dennis DeYoung, Andrea Bocelli and others. He is a terrific trombone player, and has been the backbone of the Gold Coast horn section for 16 years.



Michael Stewart is a fabulous trumpet player with an extraordinary list of credentials. He holds a Bachelor degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Akron, A master of Arts degree in Trumpet performance from Eastern Illinois University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition from the University of South Carolina. He is very busy as a guest soloist in a variety of Chicago’s Jazz Orchestras. Dr. Stewart is the director of the Maine South High Scholl Jazz Band, and is an adjunct faculty member to Roosevelt University and Lewis University. Most importantly, he is the lead trumpet player with the Gold Coast Orchestra, playing all of the high soaring parts, that make this horn section so very hot!