Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jay Stermer Killed by Drunk Driver

December 27, 2017

Jay Stermer, founding member and keyboardist/arranger for the Admirals, was killed by a drunk driver while walking his dogs just after midnight on Saturday, December 23, 2017. He was killed when a rear-ended car was flung into him. Jay was 74 years old.


Jay Stermer, a Wellington High School parent who plays music and sound effects during Wolverine baseball games, is seen in 2008. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach Post news story.

To the best of my knowledge there was not another musician out of the Baltimore band scene of the 1960s who was more well known and more respected than Jay Stermer.

I never knew Jay personally, but I knew who he was from the time I was in Jr. High School. I can only speak to his reputation — I’ll leave it to those who knew him to comment — but that reputation was one of a driving musical force behind arguably the most successful and popular band to come out of that era of Baltimore music.

For me, personally … when I was about 12 years old I saw the Admirals at their regular Sunday gig at Beaver Springs. They were up in the loft of the pavilion playing music everyone wanted to hear, in the way everyone wanted to hear it, and having a lot of fun doing it. My desire to “play in a band” came straight from the Admirals that day.

It’s all the more sad to lose Jay in this tragic way.



R.I.P. Vernon Ruppert

September 18, 2016

Vernon Ruppert passed away September 9 at his h0me in California. Vern was a musician, band leader, and impresario of Baltimore music in the early 1960’s. Attached is his obituary.

[thanks to Vern’s son-in-law, Darryl Roberts]


R.I.P. Tommy Thompson

June 28, 2016

Tommy Thompson died this morning, June 28. I saw the announcement posted on Facebook by his kids .


Tommy Thompson with Pen Lucy, circa 1970

My memories of Tommy  are mostly from the mid-‘60s. He played with The Elegants and I knew a couple guys in that band. I used to see them at Hollywood Park, and alternate with them there with the Majestics. The Tommy I knew back then was a sharp and talented musician who was always a significant contributor to any band he was in. Like Tommy, I always saw myself as a multi-instrumentalist, and he shared some of his knowledge with me on both bass and drums. These weren’t lessons … just little things, discussed on the bandstand at Hollywood Park between sets, but they are things I still remember that helped move me forward with what I wanted to do.


Tommy Thompson on bass with The Elegants, circa 1965

Fast forward 40 years and Tommy jumped into the Ray Charles Tribute band on tenor sax for Jam 3 at Bobby B’s Palace. I didn’t get to talk to him much that day, but I saw him help organize the sax section on the spot, with courtesy and camaraderie, for that spontaneous performance.


Tommy Thompson on tenor sax with the J308 Ray Charles Tribute Band, June 19, 2005.

Three years later Tommy signed on to play bass with the big band for Jam 4, also at Bobby B’s, and I got to talk with him a little bit more. That was a great band, and Tommy’s bass playing with Dave Tucker on drums was solid as a rock.


Tommy Thompson playing bass with the J408 Big Band, October 4, 2008

In 2012 the last Jam at Padonia Station also featured a big band, with multiple vocalists doing all custom arrangements, and once again Tommy nailed the bass. These were performances for all fun and no pay .. just for the love of the music and the fellow musicians who played it. They were also spontaneous … zero rehearsal … not an easy gig. At that last Jam I got to talk to Tommy a little more, and I also got to meet his wife. As his friend on Facebook I felt his deep pain when she died.

As a musician, Tommy was a true professional … something to be held in very high regard. My knowledge of Tommy as a person is limited, but I can say in every small instance that I knew him he was gracious and smart. I didn’t get to see Tommy very often over the years, but I will sure miss knowing he’s out there.

R.I.P. Phil McCusker

February 28, 2016

[from Tim McCusker]

My brother, Phil McCusker, passed away last week in Silver Spring, MD. Phil worked in The Admirals, 1968-69, then went into the Army for 3 years. On his return to the Baltimore area he played with Rody Barthemes, Mike Jones, Hiram Bullock, and many others. He went to the University of Miami where he studied bass with Jaco Pastorius and earned a degree in guitar and composition.

In Washington, DC, Phil played and wrote for Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering and later was a leader for Gene Donati Orchestras.

Phil fought a battle against ALS which finally took his life on February 17, 2016.

[NOTE: Phil participated in BaltimoreJam J512 with the “Freelancers” led by Rody Barthelmes.]


R. I. P. Ray Quigley

November 9, 2014

(From Walt Kraus on Facebook)
Ray Quigley, who was Jim Hughes partner in the Charmed Times magazine, passed away yesterday. [11/8/2014] Our condolences to his family.. He will be buried next Saturday in Essex, MD, there will be at viewing at the Candlelight funeral home, 1835 Frederick Road, on Friday, Nov 14, from 3-5 pm.

In Honor of Ivan

October 16, 2014

It was almost 3 years ago that we learned of the death of Ivan Bowser, Band Director at Parkville High School from 1954-1972, and at Loch Raven High after that. With the 50th reunion of the Class of 1964 coming around, a few of Mr. Bowser’s students from that class got to talking about how much of an influence and inspiration he was, to them and many others. As a result and with the blessing of current principal, Matt Ames, and Ivan’s family, these former students designed a wall plaque to honor Ivan and his many contributions. Last week it was installed by Ivan’s son, Gregg, on the wall of the “new” music wing — there was no music wing in 1964; Ivan’s office was a large closet and the band rehearsed in the cafeteria.

It was a great moment to see the plaque go up. Ivan was the band director when the high school was founded, 1953-54 in what is now the middle school, and the first band director at the high school’s new building and present location on Putty Hill Ave. Mr. Bowser was a dedicated teacher and fine musician, with high standards for performance and a lack of tolerance for lack of effort. As a Parkville graduate myself and one of those many students he influenced, it is an honor to pay tribute to Ivan Bowser.

Zappa Perspective

August 30, 2012

I’m a Frank Zappa guy … have been since “Freak Out” in 1966, the Mothers of Invention’s debut album. Finding out he was born in Baltimore was just a bonus, and I love that the city has given him a bronze bust on public display. I’m interested in the first part of this video where he talks about the music industry. It’s been said before and by others, but I love Frank’s way of nailing things, and I think it’s something we can all relate to.

It’s On!

April 1, 2012

Club Venus Memories

June 9, 2011

Mark Mihalos has provided us with a wonderful video tribute to her late father George’s nightclub, Club Venus. Opened in May 1966 in the Perring Plaza Shopping Center by owner George Mihalos and  his partner, Michael Athas, Club Venus presented some of the top entertainment of the day — from Rodney Dangerfield to Marvin Gaye, from Totie Fields to Ricky Nelson.

The video was beautifully produced by Mark’s friend (name to follow). It opens with an ariel shot of the entire Club Venus staff on the parking lot, and in a slide show of stills presents photos, autographs, and ads from the club’s line up. The soundtrack tracks the talent, using the music of the acts being presented.

It’s on YouTube, but in the opinion of YouTube’s servers the soundtrack violates copyright law – so it automatically stripped it out. I think it’s fair use … but they didn’t ask me. We’ve made it available as a downloadable file in three standard formats from the Club Venus page at We thought it was important to make it available because it’s a great tribute to a great club and a significant Baltimore club owner, and on our site there’s no question that it’s not being used for profit. Many thanks to George’s daughter, Mark. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

Club Venus Memories

Them Changes …

November 14, 2010

Recent events have spurred some updates, upgrades and new additions at Here’s the rundown:


We were contacted recently by Markela Mihalos, daughter of Hollywood Park and Club Venus owner, George Mihalos. Mark has a collection of photos and autographs that her dad collected over the years, from most of the musicians and other performers who worked at Club Venus. It’s a pretty interesting compilation of history that fits B’Jam like a glove. She is generously contributing these images for addition to the website … they are in the process of being scanned.

In preparation for this new material we created a new section for the site headed “Venues.” This has been a missing piece in the Baltimore music puzzle for a long time. Without the places to play the music and musicians would have remained in a collection of basements and garages scattered around the Baltimore area. We show our recognition of this fact every time we hold a Jam, from the old Alcazar Ballroom, to Overlea hall, to Bobby B’s Palace on Turkey Point Road that we all remember as a club called Hoffman’s. Please check out this new section at and help us fill in the blanks with photos, stories, and the places you remember.


We have added a flash music player to the site to make it easier to post and play music on the website. There is a collection of sample music in this new player now on the Home Page, and a column of links to bands that already have music available on the right side of the Bands Page. As time goes by this player will be incorporated throughout the site, and new music will be added. If you have digitized music to share, send it along.


Don and John Armstrong of Hocus Focus Productions in Baltimore produced a nice video of the very first reunion Jam held at the Alcazar in 2001. VHS tapes were made available to all the musicians who attended. Now, with the digitizing help of Don Barto Sr. of Soundriven of Baltimore and Washington, DC, this video is available on YouTube in 3 parts, and we have the links embedded at the website. Part 1 is posted temporarily on the Home Page, and all 3 links will remain available on the J101 Page.

We hope you enjoy this new material and find it interesting enough to bring you to the website often. Your comments are always welcome, as are any additions of music, photos and information. Ours is an all-volunteer effort. The wheels of progress may turn slowly, but they never stop turning.