Archive for May, 2012

Horn Blowing

May 31, 2012

You may or may not know that I have a Minnesota (as opposed to New Orleans) jazz funeral band called Band of Praise. We had the honor of participating in a Memorial Day service here at a 150 year old cemetery (that’s “old” for Minnesota), providing eternal rest to the state’s largest population of Civil War Veterans. The 1st Minnesota Regiment played a prominent and heroic role at Gettysburg and are revered here. In connection  with the press associated with this event, local TV did a nice little promo piece for the band. I thought I’d share it here.


Past Jam Connections

May 5, 2012

I like connections … synergy … things that enrich or expand an experience. The Jams themselves are all about connecting — with old friends and musical experiences, but also with the atmosphere and locations where those experiences and friendships were created. In that regard we’ve always tried to make a connection with each Jam venue.

Jam 1 Friday night in 2001 was held at a small bar – because we’ve all played plenty of bars, large and small – and the connection went further because the bar, Stingers at 6900 Belair Road, was owned and operated by the cousins of keyboard player Mike Foreman, Jim and Joan Boyer. Mike was a key contributor to that first Jam. We packed a lot of people into that little place.

formerly Stingers Sports Bar, now Overlea Station

formerly Stingers Sports Bar, now Overlea Station

Jam 1 Saturday was held at what was once the Alcazar Ballroom – now a part of the Baltimore School for the Arts. Many of us had played at the old Alcazar, and Jam stalwart, Don Barto, was teaching a class there at the time of the Jam so he made the arrangements. Even the less-than-ideal acoustics couldn’t dampen the high energy of about 35 musicians plus about 50 guests.

formerly the Alcazar Ballroom, now part of the Baltimore School for the Arts

formerly the Alcazar Ballroom, now part of the Baltimore School for the Arts

Jam 2 Friday night in 2002 was again at Stingers. Jim Boyer, Elvis Impersonator, came to the party, and Trudy Morgal introduced us to Joe Vaccarino who was compiling band information for a book. The next day Jam was at Overlea Hall, another place of employment over the years for many Jam participants. It made for a higher priced ticket than we generally like to  have, but the food and OH staff were both outstanding and a great time was had by all — roughly 50 musicians and 250 guests. The Mello Men organized a “Reunion Within a Jam” and big band music was introduced into the mix.

formerly Overlea Hall, now The Overlea Event Center

formerly Overlea Hall, now The Overlea Event Center

Jam 3 in 2005 was a search for an intimate bar atmosphere with more room than Stingers. Joan Boyer had passed away and Jim sold the place, so our old bar was no more. We went with all one day instead of 2, and we did it at Bobby B’s on Turkey Point Road. There was a double connection at Bobby B’s. Proprietor Bobby Berger played tenor sax and knew some of the musicians involved – connection #1. The other connection was the club’s history, as it was once called Hoffman’s and was owned by singer and fellow jammer, Al Hoffman, whose own band, Charade, played there regularly. Many of us played at Hoffmans in the ’60s.

Bobby B's. the bar.

Bobby B’s. the bar.

Jam 4 in 2008 was back at Bobby B’s, but this time in the large show room instead of the bar. The connections were only strengthened with great music … and the bands play on.

Bobby B's Palace

Bobby B’s Palace