Story of the band...Jubilee Gardens
It was December 2004. Paul Walker brings his friend David over. He plays a song by Lionel Ritchie, and one he wrote, our jaws were in our laps, and Gail said, "can we get together and play and make a record?". So,Gail and Dan Hunt along with Paul Walker, and his really talented friend David Connolly got together to play. They invited good friend and drummer Joe Zupan to join in. Joe loved the music too... It was really fun.
A few weeks of musical merriment, and along comes the Hunt Xmas party, which David sang some songs and blew everyone away. Gail remembers Walter Crockett said to David, "someday we're going to be paying to hear you". Their first gig was at the Worcester Artist Group, one of the last shows before the establishment moved from the original Harlow Street location. The Red Riders split the bill. A tall silver-haired man boasted about the groups at the end of the night, and signed up on the mailing list. Gail read his email aloud..."oudplayer@..."Tyra Penn (the Red Riders' vocalist) was amazed, and asked the man more. She set up a date with Ed Melikian to play oud with her band The Tyra Penn Jazz Quartet. He did so, we were in the audience, and were blown away by the music he made with the odd shaped 11 stringed, no fret gizmo, and asked him to check out our band Jubilee Gardens- which was also playing once a month at this same venue SPQR. He agreed, and fell in love with David's songs too, and so he was in the band.
Then one week Joe couldn't make rehearsal, so Doug MacLeod was coming over to drop off a guitar he found at a flea market for Dan to fix up (for $150?, and would give to Dan in exchange for fixing up a bass he was going to sell- Dan repaired both instruments, and the Kay that he kept is an exceptional refinish job. As far as we know, Doug sold the bass). Anyhoo- Doug sat in on rehearsal and loved the music. Both Joe & Doug added such different feels, Dan, Gail, Paul & David agreed both should play if they wanted, which they did.
Then we heard from David that a violinist was interested ofter hearing us to play with the band. So Rainer Reichel came over one rehearsal, and played along. It was lovely. He then went on the deck for a break and proceeded to climb down the outside of the deck, over to a tree, and was up 30 feet in about 15 seconds. We though. what a nut...he fits right in.
The annoucement of the band name Jubilee Gardens had also touched on the fact that "David" was really our new band leaders middle name, and Jubilee was actually his first name. He had decided to use his real first name, and so it was Jubilee Connolly, who was bringing in new songs every week, for us to work on and learn, and the creative juices flew, and we were all having a blast. (ps. another strange name fact from the band is "Gail" is a nickname, her real name is Galadriel, from The Lord of The Rings..it was 1967)....back to the story...
Paul had been spending some free time with a terrific saxophonist Tim McCall, and learning alot from him. Tim came to a couple rehearsals, and they worked out their parts as a horn section on saxes and clarinets. They dreamed of more clarinets in the world,and making a clarinet army someday. They were really cute together, both about the same height, and weight (very thin) and both smoked butts and we were hoping they would marry, but Paul & Tim weren't meant to be.
Joe Zupan quit his DJ job at WICN, and took up with a new radio station in Virginia, so he moved down there, only to return every month for the gigs. He drove 11 hours each way for the love of the music (and to see his girlfriend Myrna). Our friend Jon Sher, a great photographer, had been taking band pictures, and Gail started working on putting a website together with alot of those shots taken at gigs to be up for when the CD would come out, which we had started working on... September 2005 we went into the studio at Paul Provost's place in Brookfield, and began making the first album, and it was going great. Paul had some piano parts in mind, and since has tried to come to gigs when he can. He's a great pianist, and engineer, and really fun to work with. We came out with that record May 2006. Also in May we met and played with Rainer's sister Mary who was known to be an great cellist. She played with us at Cafe Fantastique, and then at Spinstock. And we all loved the addition to the music. She played everything perfectly, always the right note, in the right place. She rose the level of proffesionalism musically in the band by far, and looked good doing it.
Next we moved the monthly show from SPQR over to Sahara, which was a much better room for us. Before the move Paul and Tim quarrelled since Tim decided to jump off the wagon. He was on double secret probation, and was welcomed to play if sober, but no. Eventually Tim got his act together, but moved to NYC to persue his jazz roots, and if you wanted to really work in music, there aren't more opportunitites than in NY. He's working and doing well, and we wish him all the best, and he certainly added greatness to the first CD, many of us feel he is the best saxophonist we're ever heard. He played once at SPQR with his jazz, bee-bop quartet, and they were incredible.
Then on gigs, we were graced by a very good tambourinist (and drummer) Dave Hartwell. I would say 95% of the time a tambourine gets picked up- it should really be put down, but Dave has a knack with it, and when he played it, it breathed life into the songs. My favorite one is Wake Up. He is also drumming with the band, in Doug's absences, and rocking out. It has been really fun having him on gigs.
Mary hit us with sad news - she tells us she is going off to Europe to get her PHD. Damn it! She is going to be missed sorely. She says she'll be back at Xmas and summers for the next three years, and we will be looking forward to these visits, so we can get some playing in with her, and we're already talking about the third CD. So she is still officially in the band. In the middle of all of this Ed Melikian's band has been doing Middle Eastern music, has been playing monthly too. Very fun music, and lots of group dancing. His doubeck player Leon Manoogian had always intrigued us, and he sat in on the last gig, and added new spice to the rhythms. We invited him to play on the new CD, which he did a great job on.
Recently someone asked how we ended up with so many people in the band, I thought this may be a good time to get it all down on "paper".
Things change, and gardens grow...
Now into 2008. Mary came back for a holiday visit, and we were able to play with her on New Years' Eve, which was very fun. We are hoping she'll be back for the summer, and can get a few gigs in with her again. She is sorely missed. The new album is almost complete. We've been mixing with Roger Lavallee at Tremolo Lounge, and it's coming out great. We are just about done this part of the process, and hope to have CD's soon. The artwork is about done too. I ended up taking a band photo, and doing hand-drawn stuff on top, then colored in on the computer. I stole the wheel shape from the Mayan calendar (which is what the song Thirteen Moons is about), but filled in with the instruments that are played on the CD...you'll see what I mean when the CD comes out.
Scott McLennan from the Telegram & Gazette came to the studio last week to see what "mixing" is like, and interview us. He wrote a terrific article ( Jan 15, 2008). Many of his well-crafted quotes appear on the front page of this website. He has a way with words, and describes this music better than anyone.
The CD release party April 5, 2008 was the biggest crowd ever seen at Sahara. A terrific night!
Shortly after this Doug decided to step aside for Dave to play drums. Dave is a real rock drummer- and since the music was heading in that direction, Doug felt that was the way to go. Dave compliments the music wonderfully- and drives the band. Jubilee wrote a pile of songs, much further into rock territory, which is a new vibe for the band- which started closer to folk-like. Doug McLeod is a wonderful guy, and is also a very busy drummer with other country/folk bands in the North East.
Back in the studio September 2008 for the third CD~ Jubilee just keeps writing great stuff!
Sept 2009...Getting towards the final stages of the third CD~ it's always a learning process. The artwork is even getting there! It's kind of like having a baby!
Mary has been back for a few months, so we've gotten to play a few gigs with her already-- and more to come!
Dave Hartwell decided to pursue some other musical adventures, we're still happy to see him around town and will continue with Joe Z now on drums.
We won Worcester Magazine best of in the world/ethnic catagory. We don't consider ourselves either of those, but I don't think WoMag knows which catagory to put us in. The BEST part is, we didn't vote for ourselves, or ask anyone to vote for us, so this was a completely organic win...which makes it so much better!
The 3rd CD "Natural Art" will be released Sat Dec 5th, 2009! It was another fun project, and came out great. Jubilee is a terrific song writer, and like I've said, I feel it's really necessary to get these down in CD form as they just keep coming-- so I drive everyone crazy setting up studio time and pushing the projects along-- but I think the world is a better place for it. I have to tell the story of the artwork too...at a summer party we had, my Aunt Pat had bought the Crayola 3D sidewalk chalk for us-- and our friend Todd Deal started going to town in the driveway. He drew a beautiful fat faced sun, he named "Fat Old Sun" and Jon Sher took a great picture of it. So that fat old sun ended up on the cover of our new CD, and I got 100 pair of cheapo glasses to go with them, since it really does float right off the pavement when you look through the kookie glasses (not really 3D, but diffraction grating glasses). I hope the CD release party will be fun and that our fans really like the new project!!!
Since Joe was back on drums-- he asked Luis Fraire to sit in on percussion, and we think it's been wonderful! The two of them play so well together. Luis really thinks about what he's going to do, and how to go about it-- and it really pays off for the the sound of the rhythm section is the best it's ever been!!!
On another note, due to artistic differences, Paul Walker has moved on to persue other projects. But things are always changing~
July 2010 we started the 4th CD! Taking our time, but we're really excited about it already, and think it'll be the best one! Jubilee wrote a few terrific songs after we recorded, so we've had to get back into the studio to add these to the mix. It will be one packed CD when it's done.
I have to say this whole journey has been the most fun evahhh and everyone I get to play with has been a musical BFF, even those who left us to play elsewhere. And I am so looking forward to all the fun yet to come!!!
summer 2012 Mary got married and is staying in Slovenia. We're are wrapping up on the 4th CD now and have some cool gigs coming up at the Worc Art Museum, town common in Brookfield and Nick's...all fun stuff!
Finally released the 4th CD "STAR STRUCK". I think it's the best so far-- and this would go right along with the fact you get better with things the more you do them....I hope fans think the same thing. The CD release party (jan 5, 2013) was a love-filled room, and just a wonderful time. Looking forward to more fun....and musical merriment!
Our most excellent friend and drummer Joe Zupan was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in November 2012, and had an amazingly easy time with chemo then radiation- stayed so strong- even rode his bicycle to treatments in the hot summer months of 2013. The last round of chemo in the winter started to kick his ass. Pamela Hines had the idea to do a fundraiser for him, and it was a huge success. Bands, jazz performers and friends filled Nick's beyond capacity January 19, 2014, I can't list them all, but will mention Chuck & Mud and the Hole in Damn Band, We & Mrs Jones and Jubilee Gardens (Joe playerd with these acts) Little Red & The Riders (he formerly played with) along with jazz greats Yoko Miwa, Bob Simonelli, Kenny Hadley, Jane Miller, John Baboian, Jim Porcella, Ameranouche...the list goes on. He was doing OK but spending more time resting as the days progressed. March 15th he played the first offical gig for We & Mrs Jones, and was really feeling terrible. That Wed he went to the hospital for breathing difficulties, he had pneumonia, fri to a wonderful Hospice (Ichabod Washburn) where he was visited for two days by more people than the place had ever seen, and passed on Monday morning at 8:31 with his wife Myrna and nurse named Gail of all things. If I started to tell more about Joe's personality, or love of this band & it's music, it could go on for days. It still doesn't seem real, not sure it ever will, cause he's in our hearts and was a larger than life part of everyday..
Loui had filled in many times on drums in the past year and carries the torch of the groove for the band. Some great gigs, and many tears, but, the garden keeps evolving & growing. When we play together there is lots of love in the room, with the band & friends, and we are very thankful. Looking forward to the nice weather & party on dudes....as Joe would want us to do.