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Signature Guest

J.W. Cortés is an award-winning actor, Marine combat veteran, singer, filmmaker, and philanthropist. Born and raised in Sunset Park Brooklyn, to inspiring Puerto Rican parents, he developed an interest in the arts along with a desire to serve his community and country. Currently, Cortés plays the recurring role of "Detective Carlos Alvarez" on Fox’s hit prime-time series "Gotham". Cortés is the first actor in history to portray the iconic comic book character in television and film. Detective Alvarez was originally created by Judd Winick for his hit DC Comics’s "The New 52 Catwoman" series. In addition to "Gotham", he has had various roles on: Starz’s “Power”, NBC's “The Blacklist” and “The Mysteries of Laura”, and CBS’s “Blue Bloods”. Previously, Cortés starred as an “Operative” on NBC's reality television show, "Stars Earn Stripes" and appeared in feature films, including the soon-to-be released “A Momentary Lapse of Reasoning” with The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyer, “As Good As Dead” from Andie MacDowell, “Blue Caprice" with Isaiah Washington, and the award-winning short film “Stop” at the Sundance Film Festival.

Currently, Cortés serves New York State’s Metropolitan Transit Authority Police Department (MTAPD) as an officer based in NY Penn Station. In addition, he helps raise awareness and funding for various philanthropic organizations, including the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation, Autism Speaks, Got Your 6, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation and MusiCorps. In 2016 Cortés received the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, was chosen by the Boot Campaign as a celebrity spokesperson & Hero Ambassador, and participated in the critically acclaimed HBO series "Habla Y Vota". In 2015, he was selected by Got Your 6 to serve as an “American Icon” and he continues to support the organization’s mission to empower veterans by serving on its advisory board.

Cortés served in the United States Marine Corps for nearly thirteen years attaining the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals and Marine of the Year. He studied acting at the world renowned William Esper Studio, under the tutelage of Terry Knickerbocker. J.W. Cortés is the proud father of two boys, a lucky husband and loving owner of an American Bulldog named "Blue.”

Celebrity Guests

B.E.R. stands for the last name initials of Carl Burnett, Frank Enea, and William J. Regan. The band is featured as animated versions of themselves in the Cartoon Network show “Teen Titans Go!” The song “Night Begins to Shine” was covered by Fall Out Boy, CeeLo Green, and Puffy AmiYumi for a four-part “Teen Titans Go!” storyline in which B.E.R. uses the magic of their music to defeat an ominous intergalactic villain. Upon its official release, the song peaked at #1 on the iTunes rock music charts, #7 on the Billboard Rock Digital Songs chart, and #23 on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart. B.E.R. has four additional hit songs, three of which have been featured on “Teen Titans Go!” In addition, the band's social media has countless posts of parents describing how their music has helped their children with autism, learning delays, and special needs. Come chat, jam, and meet Carl and William at this year's Culture Con.

According to Carl Burnett, the word that comes up most often when people talk about him is “FUNKY”. Though his style includes jazz, rock, and blues, his roots are in funk music. In whatever setting he performs, that foundation always comes through. His first big influence was working with Bill Withers. Withers stressed to play “The Song” and to always stay in the groove. In touring the world with Branford Marsalis’ band Buckshot LeFonque, there were no musical boundaries. Marsalis’ “just be yourself” mantra gave Burnett an “outside of the box” freedom that allowed him to realize his own voice as a musician.

            In addition to playing guitar, Burnett also has a passion for music production. That work includes Larry Carlton’s Grammy-nominated recording “Deep Into It.” The title track, along with the single “Morning Magic,” included Burnett’s producing and writing, to which Carlton added his impeccable sense of melody and phrasing. Burnett’s sound can be found in the songs of multi-award winning jazz artist Boney James including “Backbone” “Shake It Up” and the gold-certified hits “Seduction” and “Sweet Thing.” In addition, Burnett’s TV underscore can be heard in the TV shows “Extra” “TMZ” “Pawn Stars” and more.

William J. Regan “Billy Red” is from Northern Virginia. He comes from a very musical family. With his father passing away when he was only 11 years old, Billy Red grew up fast. He started racing competition Motocross from age 12 to 19 with many wins, losses, bumps, and bruises. Billy Red started playing drums when a friend gave him a drum kit at age 17. After playing with a few bands and jamming with friends, he started singing, writing, recording and touring with his band Tangent in the early nineties. In the late nineties, he took a break after the devastation of his mother suddenly passing away. Billy Red returned to the drums and performed vocals for his band Elizabeth. Then Tangent re-formed to record and tour from 2000-2004.

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Billy Red has been an auto mechanic since he was in the 10th grade and is still hard at work in his trade. Meeting Carl Burnett when working on his car, Carl approached Billy Red with the opportunity to sing and write music (with the collaboration of Frank Enea.) That would lead to big things with Warner Brothers. The band, dubbed B.E.R. by Warner Brothers, have recorded hit songs such as “Night Begins to Shine” “Rise Up” “Forever Mine” “Chimerical” and “Misery.” Billy Red continues to write and record with B.E.R. for Warner Brothers. Currently, Billy Red is singing for the Led Zeppelin tribute band The Bridge touring the mid-Atlantic area, as well as writing & touring with his new band Meridian.