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!

Member Profiles:

Mary Norris – Vocals, Guitar

Mary Emma NorrisMary Norris is a Charleston-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and front-woman for indie rock band, Salti Ray. She performs folk, indie, and rock, and has been writing music for over 8 years. Norris knew she wanted to play guitar after seeing her church band perform as a child, and at the age of 11, she got her first guitar. Using music as an outlet, Norris began writing songs as a form of self-expression. Norris is elaborating her aspirations as a first-generation college student at the University of South Carolina Upstate where she studies music.
She has performed at open mic nights at Jesse and Friends Music, Brown Roof Thrift Shop, and Icehouse of Summerville and has also participated at events such as Jesse and Friends 2014 Rock the Block, the 2016 Hub City Block Party, and the 2016 Melting Pot Music Festival. During the summer of 2016, Norris performed an original song titled, “Ragdoll” with Salti Ray on Studio62 with Jamarcus Gaston. Another original song, “The Forest Siren,” won USC Upstate’s Annual Songwriting Competition in the spring of 2016, and she performed the piece at Upstate’s spring 2016 Chapman Cultural Center Showcase.
Norris is excited to head into 2018 as the new vocalist for Hot As A Pepper, the Upstate’s hottest dance and party band.

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

John M. HoytOriginally 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 dance and party band 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 Custom & Deluxe models, NSD upright electric, Yamaha RBX-775, RBX-170 fretless, Roland GK 20 and 55 synths, Fender Kingman ACB, various other guitars, amps.

Chris Eller – Drums

Chris EllerChris 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 GardoTony joined Hot As A Pepper after sitting in with us on January 31st 2014. 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.

Chris “CC” Carroll – Guitar, Vocals

Chris "CC" CarrollOriginally from New Jersey.  Moved to the Greenville area in 2010.  Professional session musician and composer for over 30 years.  A multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, guitar, bass, piano, keys, and anything with strings or that you have to hit.  Samples of his music from a recent project can be found at https://www.reverbnation.com/a_1515008017/songs   As well as a musician Chris is also an Aerodynamic Engineer, an artist and, has designed several guitars. Samples of his art can be found at https://aranami-cc.deviantart.com/gallery/ which also includes one of the guitars he has designed.      Oh…..  and he’s older than dirt.  Just saying…..

Carlos Perez – Guitar, Vocals (guitarrista de respaldo)

Carlos PerezA 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”.


The Habanero Horns – Sax & Trumpet

Ed WimberlyTom Wheat Saxophonist for Hot As A Pepper Party BandHot 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 most larger parties, fundraisers, weddings, festivals and other events.

Ed Wimberly was a founding member of the Salems, a popular band in Rock Hill and continues to play with them when they have reunion shows.

Tom was born and raised in Nottingham, England. He moved to South Carolina in 2011 and has built a prolific career as a professional musician and teacher. When he’s not playing with HAAP, Tom performs with several other local and national touring bands, and teaches saxophone and clarinet in his private studio. In his free time, Tom loves watching football (soccer) and cooking for his family.

The Habanero Horns will make any event hotter – so be sure to ask about adding them to the lineup for your special occasion.



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