Before the year passes completely… I had the distinct pleasure of subbing for Joe English earlier this year thanks to a kind offer from local CNY great Mark Hoffmann and his funky-as-hell son Gustavioso. The equally formidable Syracuse band Jam Factory was inducted into the 2016 SAMMYS (Syracuse Area Music Awards) Hall of Fame, joining the likes of 805, Bill Knowlton, Calvin Custer, and Benny Mardones (now that’s eclectic).
The mythology of the time had band manager, the late Joe Leonard, signing the contract while relaxing in a bathtub after Jam Factory had opened to a standing ovation when they appeared with Hot Tuna at the Fillmore East. Word was Columbia saw Jam Factory as a threat to the genre Sly and the Family Stone was establishing, and wanted to stash them away on the vinyl shelf.
And this was how hip The Today Show was back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.
Reposted youtube comment from Larry G:
A Syracuse Music History Moment: JAM FACTORY plays the Today Show Special “From Ragtime to Rock: A History of American Music” broadcast live January 13, 1970. The vinyl album liner notes tout Jam Factory thusly: “This driving rock group brings us right up to date with what’s happening in American music.” – – Heartfelt thanks to my friend Earl V Ford Jr. for posting this to my timeline. That’s Earl showing off his new purple polyester threads (and well before PRINCE learned to zip up his pants mind you) with git-picker Mark Hoffman in “the fringe”! Gracing the Hammond B-3 is Gene McCormick – so in the groove at the finale he nearly shakes his head off his shoulders. On the skins is Joe English who displays true matched-grip sensibilities (when he can hold on to his sticks!) and awesome high vocal range. Not trying to miss the count on cornet is Steve Marcone and holding it all down is the late great Kent Defelice on bass. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.
With nearly a full rehearsal (my inner solipsist barely coming to grips with all the reminiscing going on about events before the mid-1970’s) and partial soundcheck under our belts, the majority of the original ensemble took the stage as the closing music for the 2016 SAMMYS festivities on March 4th.
* Mark Hoffmann as himself (guitar, vocals)
* Gene McCormick as himself (keyboards, vocals)
* Earl Ford Jr. as himself (trombone)
* Steve Marcone as himself (trumpet)
* Gus Hoffmann (bass, vocals) as Kent DeFelice (who had a scheduling conflict with that big funk band in the sky)
* Anna Hoffmann (more vocals)
* Damian Allis as Joe English (well, at least they got the lefty player right)
The tininess of this planet Earth is highlighted by my older brother being Denny Laine’s touring drummer – making us both now one degree from the 1975–1977 Wings line-up. This begs the question – when Chris is mid-performance, does he think “Denny Laine… is in my ears… and in my eyes…”?
For interested parties, the gig was recorded for posterity and posted to youtube – one snippet from local music writer Mark Bialczak…
The other three posted by Lori Newcomb…
* www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxLlYc6mN9Y – Tight-Knit Group
* www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gcjkBV0nA0 – Talk Is Cheap
* www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzC9ukNkA0U – You Better Listen
They weren’t my drums (but I certainly know the model and finish), so I should have hit them harder (but “eh”). For completeness, I included an impromptu homage to Joe English by stick-dropping during Tight-Knit Group (instead of You Better Listen, as per the Today Show vid above).
Several write-ups from the event are linked below from the Syracuse New Times:
Other highlights of the night itself included hearing Ohne-ká and the Burning River for the first time – as a big Keretta fan, I thoroughly enjoyed their mid-SAMMY set. Highlight of the awards dinner at the Dino BBQ the night before was being present for Mark Copani’s Music Educator award (snippet of an audio interview HERE).
Fast-forward to my Rochester relocation – I walk into Bop Shop Records for my first proper free jazz show since my many, many memorable nights at the Metropolis Book Shoppe in Syracuse, and what do I see staring right at me, priced just right for an impulse buy?