Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bruce Hilton, 1930 - 2008

Joyful Noise Jazz Band founder, leader and tuba player Bruce Hilton passed away March 14, 2008, in Sacramento. He was 77.

Without him, there would have been no band.

Please share your memories
of Bruce Hilton in comments.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bill Gunter (1927-2007)

It is with a heavy heart that we report that dear friend and jazz entertainer extraordinaire Bill Gunter has died. He was a good friend and occasional member of the Joyful Noise Jazz Band, playing on both the band's CDs. He just turned 80.

In keeping with spirit of Bill's lifetime of entertaining people (especially making them laugh) what follows is a bio that we believe he wrote of himself (or was written by someone who knew him well), copied from the DixielandJazz message board.

From Cell Block 7 ...

Bill Gunter - Drums, washboard, piano, banjo, guitar & vocals

Bill was born at a very early age and shortly thereafter was abandoned in the forest where he grew up as a feral child tended by a band of beavers.

His earliest memories are of the rhythmic sounds produced when the beavers would slap their large flat tails on the surface of the water and it was this early percussion experience that destined him to become a washboard player.

A wandering environmentalist rescued Bill and returned him to civilization although for many years his new neighbours were at a loss to explain the teeth marks on their flagpoles and shrubbery.

Also, the local swimming pool had to post a permanent security guard to prevent the regular damming of their water slides...

His attempts to emulate the beavers by thumping his nether regions on the surface of the nearest stretch of water (the City Square fountain became a real tourist attraction!) forced his adoptive parents to 'buy him a drum to keep him quiet'.

This was a turning point, and his rhythmic beating sounds attracted a band of itinerant dixieland gypsies who kidnapped the hapless Bill and forced him to play washboard in the Quintet of the Hot Club of San Jose and also do the band uniforms (light starch in the collars).

Upon reaching puberty Bill gained phenomenal strength, which enabled him to beat their arm wrestling champion in a sudden death face off. She, impressed by his prowess, demanded his immediate release and return to outer suburbia.

Here, the proceeds from the sale of Bill's golden nose ring were sufficient to put him through college and he became an avid folk song collector, also learning to play guitar.

After graduating he started his life long career as an English teacher and in off duty hours he entertained in local clubs with his guitar and vocals.

He later moved into the pizza parlors and entertained as a member of a quartet playing all those old great sing-along songs that made pizza pubs such great fun back in the sixties.

Around this time Bill took up the washboard seriously, playing with such diverse groups as The Boondockers (a pizza parlor novelty jazz band), Black Diamond Jazz Band, San Francisco Starlight Orchestra and the Joyful Noise Jazz Band in addition to Cell Block 7.

Bill is also a member of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society (STJS) and has served as president of that organization. The STJS also presents the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee over the Memorial Day weekend each year and Bill is very active in helping organize and produce this annual affair.

Though retired from teaching now, Bill continues his enthusiasm for jazz. He and his wife, Beverly, love to travel and visit with friends they have met in jazz all around the world.

The ingredients above have produced the suave, debonaire and strikingly handsome man who regularly mounts the stage with washboard in hand, asking the eternal question, 'How do you tune this damn thing!?'

Friday, July 6, 2007

Photos added: Buck Creek JB at Sacto Jubilee

Fans of the Buck Creek Jazz Band will recognize the members' mugs in our most recent photo scrapbook (click here for the gallery) of photos from the 2007 Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.

Buck Creek again played the Yolo Room at the Sacramento Convention Center, pretty much THE place for trad jazz bands -- either because organizers want to give those fans a consistent base or because they want to keep THAT music swept off to the side, away from the more popular (and jazz-less) forms of music in the big venues.

Some may recognize the overlap between Buck Creek's line-up and that of reunion band Richard's Two-Beat Bombers (also in the library).

The Band

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Third Sunday in July at Champa

Greetings jazz fans!

Don't forget, the JOYFUL NOISE JAZZ BAND will be at Champa restaurant in El Sobrante on July 15 at our NEW TIME: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

We moved our sets to meet popular demand and to avoid overlapping with the New Orleans Jazz Club of Northern
California, which meets the same day, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Lodge in San Pablo. (Look for our ad in the NOJCNC Newsletter this month.)

There's a version of the flyer for our monthly gig in the band photos area Feel free to make copies and distribute them to friends and relatives.

Muchas mahalo,

The Band

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two-Beat Bombers at Sacramento this year

Two-Beat Bombers at Sacramento 2007

Thankfully, Bill Richard's Two-Beat Bombers, a reunion band made up of top players from three or four other good bands, performed again at this year's Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. Click the image above for an album of photos from their set at the Yolo Room of the Convention Center.

Sadly, the Bombers, including Firehouse 5 Plus Two legend George Probert, were among the declining numbers of bands who play anything resembling real traditional jazz, as opposed to Tourist Dixie, Western Swing, Big Band and my personal favorite, Cajun Western Modern Bluegrass Dixie-Swing. Yeeech.

I guess the folks who run the festival, in their effort to please everyone with every form of music under the sun, have forgotten the music and musicians that got the festival started in the first place.

I realize they have to expand to bring in a wider audience to keep the festival solvent but, seriously, don't forget the girl you came to the dance with.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Photos added: Band Scrapbook

Go to and see what the guys in the band used to look like -- and how many other fine musicians have been associated with the JNJB over the years. There are pictures from almost every era of the band's history, and as we get set to turn 27 years old, it's fun to look back. Above: A moment during practice (c. 1982) at the El Sobrante United Methodist Church, where the band first formed. (Left to right: Doug Franks, Tom Kamb, Paul Hilton, Bill Slessinger, Bruce Hilton and Bob Parker.)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

New band photo

Veteran photographer Dick Schmidt took photos of the band in between church services on Memorial Day Weekend in Sacramento, CA. He took a lot of other great shots, some of which we will post later.

The guys in the photo are (left to right) Bob Parker (trombone), Bruce Hilton (leader and tuba), Paul Hilton (cornet), Bruce Stangeland (banjo), Mark Griffith (piano) and Bill Slessinger (clarinet).