Not long after Joes Place opened back in ’92, I was approached to book a band named “Jambone – The Best House Band Ever!
Jambone was a trio comprised of Thomas Nelson (bass, vocals, band leader), Rick Labrie (guitar, vocals) and Pat Dewey (drums, vocals) performing a variety of music from many genres (blues, funk, rock and much more).
I remember I booked them unheard but, knowing the reputation of each of the musicians, I had no qualms in giving them the gig.
That first show, we had a big catering job that came up at the last minute at the Humberstone Speedway that had difficulty obtaining a special occasion permit so they approached me to cater the bar since we were fortunate enough to have a catering license. Needless to say, I did not get an opportunity to hear or participate in Jambones show.
By the time I got back to the club, Jambone was playing their last couple tunes. The club had a few people there but far from what I would call a good sized crowd. I didn’t hear much but, the songs I heard Jambone perform blew me away.
When I was paying the band, Tom informed me that this was their last gig as Jambone. That surprised and disappointed me. They were awesome; I wanted to bring them back. After some coaxing I convinced them to come for a repeat show so that I could see the full extent of their performance.
So, when they came for their repeat performance I could not believe what I was hearing……3 great musicians…..3 awesome vocalists……the smallish crowd that was there with me were blown away. They were great…..the audience loved them, the dance floor was never empty, the mix of songs were perfect setting for a great party atmosphere. I decided then and there I wanted more.
I offered them a house gig. To be our Thursday night house band, and so it began….3.5 years of packed house Thursday nights featuring Jambone.
As the weeks went by and the crowd grew weekly, we started having a special guest join in. We were fortunate to have an in house Hammond B3 and who better to come and show us all how it should be played, but the late great Joe Ingrao arguably one of the best B3 players of the time. What he added to the band was incredible. Another vocalist, piano player, B3 player and an awesome book of songs. He was the icing on the Jambone cake. What started as a Trio with Joe joining in, became a quartet with Joey a permanent member of Jambone. The crowds grew weekly.
Many musicians were invited to come and Jam it out with Jambone. One in particular was a regular. Stanley Szymkow, a good friend of Joe Ingrao and an awesome Sax player. The perfect addition. It wasn’t long before he became a permanent member of the band.
In the months to follow many great musicians were invited to perform with Jambone including Carlos del Junco (world class harmonica player) and Mel Brown (legendary Bluesman) and many more. The Jambone experience never got boring and was always full of surprises. They were the most popular act Joe’s Place ever featured.
I could go on and on but I will close in saying this, I am more of a fan of New Original Music. Cover bands, although I appreciate them and the work that goes into them, I am always looking for something different. Jambone made me a believer. You can still be awesome by doing cover tunes. The key is the quality of the players and how they present the cover tune, by making it their own. Jambone was a band made up of some of the best musicians in Niagara. The great vocals by all the members were all different and added a lot of flavour to the leads and harmonies.
It just doesn’t get much better.