Hot As A Pepper is not your run-of-the-mill cover band churning out the same old tired songs from this music genre or that, with little or no emotion.

Hot As A Pepper brings high energy, fun, funky and upbeat music to your venue or event and plays what YOU want to hear. A variety of genres and generations are covered including some originals.

One thing is for sure – you get what you pay for! We deliver professional attitude, audio, lighting and a show to match!

Book HAAP for your next HAAPpening!

Want to know more about our group? Check out our member profiles.

John M. Hoyt – Bass, Vocals, Guitar & Technology

John M. Hoyt bass player for Hot As A Pepper at Bovinova 2.0 2012Originally from Fayetteville Arkansas where he played from 1978-1988, first in the country band “Easy Pickin’s”, then rock/blues bands; “Don’t Pass Go!” & “Drastic Measures” before moving to Los Angeles. While in LA, John made his living doing session work, playing in multiple bands & performing at venues such as The Viper Room, The Whiskey, The Roxy and The Troubadour.

John’s bands have played in over 30 states and opened for acts such as George Thorogood, Pat Travers, Head East, Bad Company, BTO, and Little Feat. Since moving to SC in 1998, John formed the Christian band “Jesus Fish” and took on pick-up gigs as they presented themselves. John joined up with The Dockside Band in 2010 as bass player, vocalist, writer, promoter and technology engineer. John parted ways with TDB in April of 2012 and set out to find the perfect musicians for a new concept, Hot As A Pepper!

Find more information about John M. Hoyt on his personal site.

Equipment: GK 700 RBII / NEO 4×10, Lakland 55-02, Yamaha RBX-775, RBX-170 fretless, Roland GK 20 and 55 synths, Fender Kingman ACB, NS Design CR4M Upright Electric and various other guitars, amps.

Chip McDonald – Lead Vocals

Chip McDonald vocalist for Hot As A Pepper at Bovinova 2.0 2012Chip found his love for singing in high school chorus and achieved all state honors five years in a row. Chip has been in “Who’s Who in American Music”, won a high school talent contest singing “Sweet Home Alabama” and from then on was hooked!

After high school, Chip played in various garage bands then went professional and sang with The McCoys in Pennsylvania (They did the hit song “Hang on Sloopy”). Chip’s career took him to Texas where he was lead singer for Shadowfax and Silent Majority. In 1986 he returned to The Upstate and joined a local band called The Merge which played in the Clemson area for 8 years. Chip performed with The Dockside Band from September 2011 until April 2012, ultimately landing in at the formation of Hot As A Pepper in May 2012!

Carlos Perez – Guitar & Vocals

Carlos Perez Guitar and vocalsA native of Cuba, Carlos moved with his family to the US at the age of 3 – landing first in Charlotte, then to Anderson at age 10. After the typical high school garage band experience, Carlos took on the lead guitar and vocal duties with “August”, a popular dance band based in Anderson. Carlos toured the Southeast with “August” from the late 70’s to early 80’s while attending Clemson.

After Clemson, Carlos moved to Miami and was away from music for several years to focus on his new family and career. He rejoined the music scene in 2005 with various Miami dance bands which included former members of the Miami Sound Machine, Expose and the Stylistics. In 2007, he joined one of the top cover bands in Miami, known as “EGO”. With shows from Palm Beach to Key Largo, Carlos performed as lead guitarist and vocalist with “EGO” until 2011, then with various cover bands in Miami until his return to SC in 2014.

Once back in the Upstate, Carlos joined Greenville-based, “Groove Planet” in 2014 – headed by the acclaimed R & B artist, Whitney Walters (now Whitney Bradley). Having enjoyed 2 + years with Whitney and Groove Planet, Carlos has now joined Hot As a Pepper exclusively as of November, 2016. Carlos prefers PRS and Fender guitars and Marshall amps which “go to 11”.


Richard Young Jr. – Guitar & Vocals

Richard Young Jr. Guitar and vocalsRichard began playing the piano as soon as he could reach the keys. After several years of piano lessons and a couple of years of cello, Richard heard “Eruption” by Edward Van Halen and immediately knew that his future destiny was with the guitar.

Throughout high school he studied electric guitar with Charlie Wood and Mark Swicegood, and classical guitar with Deborah Rankin. He attended Fine Arts Center where he studied music theory with Jon Grier, and attended Governors School for the Arts summer program at Furman. He was well known in the Greenville music scene as the guitarist for Labyrinth.

Richard went on to study classical guitar at Brevard College and University of Georgia, and finished at University of South Carolina, where he studied classical guitar with Christopher Berg and earned a bachelors degree in music theory. During his college years he played with the experimental Athens GA fusion group “?”  (pronounced “Question Mark”).

Living in Atlanta from 1996 to 2006, Richard continued to follow his passion and sharpen his skills as a guitar teacher and guitar repairman / hot-rodder while performing with The Naked Truth.  In 2006 he moved back to his hometown Greenville, SC.  In 2008 he joined the band Green Vegas.

Richard teaches music theory at the Fine Arts Center and is also locally known as a guitar teacher and guitar technician.  He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking, fishing, archery, shooting, whitewater, and skydiving. He also enjoys spending time in the workshop with his father Dick Young, who is a legendary local luthier and guitar technician.

Richard signed on with Hot As A Pepper in January of 2014.


Chris Eller – Drums

Chris Eller DrumsChris was born in Queens New York and has had formal studies on drums and trumpet  from 5th grade through 12th along with private studies in college for one year. A studio musician in West Palm Beach, Fl from 1984-1986. Moved to South Carolina in 1986.  Taught drum lessons @ The Music Source in Clemson, S.C. Which is where Chris met George Fennington, a microbiologist at the university of Clemson. Together, they formed “The Merge”, a high energy R&R band which was around from 1987-1994.

Chris also was the of The Alley Restaurant/Pub from 1996-2001 and performed in the house band called “Tha Alley Cats” which played R&B/Motown and R&R stylings. Chris had several fill-in projects from 2002-2008.

In addition to joining HAAP in 2012 he’s also been doing studio blues sessions in contemporary stylings.

Currently playing Gretsch drums, Zildjian cymbals, DW foot pedals

Tony Gardo – Keyboards, Sax & Vocals

Tony Gardo Greenville keyboards sax and voiceTony joined Hot As A Pepper after sitting in with us on January 31st. It was apparent that he needed to be providing his skills to HAAP.

Tony’s father played the sax & his mother was a pianist, so he grew up surrounded by music. In 1987, Tony attended The Fine Arts Center of Greenville, SC, then The Art Institute of Atlanta and studied many musical classes & music business courses.

While in Atlanta, Tony explored the booming live music scene & fell in love with entertaining people with his music. Heworked with a couple of Atlanta’s best rock & roll groups & toured the East Coast from 1988-1993, then moved back to Greenville, SC & met THE OATH.

The Oath toured the East Coast & opened for Alice Cooper on Alice’s ‘Brutal Planet Tour’. They worked relentlessly and in 1999 recorded the CD “Realistic Dreamers” which has had the most airplay time of all their originals.

Tony played with church bands for a few years and then started touring the world playing as the party band on Princess Cruise Lines, ultimately working with 2 cruise bands, “ON THE ROXX” and “STRAIT UP” from 2007-2012.

Interesting fact: Tony has also played together with John of Hot As A Pepper once before with “The Shakes” band.


The Habanero Horns – Sax & Trumpet

Hot As A Pepper has teamed up with two fun guys, Tom Wheat and Ed Wimberly who have performed with us at Greenville’s Main Street Fridays and they are ready to be a “plug-in” for your event if you want to make your HAAPpening even HOTTER.

Be sure to ask about adding the Habanero Horns!


The Belle Peppers – Vocals and additional instruments

Megan Carolina Hoyt – Vocals and also instrumental cocktail & dinner hour music on guitar and keyboards

Keely Rose McDonald – Vocals

Nissa Ching – Sax