|By SHANNON VENEGAS - Special to TimeOut||
September 12, 2013
- Jazzy sounds from the 1920s and 1930s will stream from the Waukesha
Civic Theatre stage with the Hot Damn! band at this week’s Waukesha’s
Freeman Friday Night Live music series.
Damn! got its start at the Waukesha Farmers Market when the theater asked
bands to play to get the word out about the theater. Fred Pike, who plays
in the pit orchestra (the group below the stage for musical theater) for
the Waukesha Civic Theatre, got a few friends together to play. After a
positive response to the band’s tunes, they decided to keep playing.
current Hot Damn! lineup includes Fred Pike on guitar, mandolin, bass and
vocals; Brian Carter on percussion; Jay Kummer on guitar and ukulele, Jeff
Binder on guitar, bass and vocals; and Linda Binder on mandolin, violin,
bass and vocals.
and Kummer also do quite a bit of pit orchestra work with Pike, while
Jeff, Linda and Pike are in the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra together.
are multi-instrumentalists in the group, so it really opens up the
possibilities in terms of how we work out our arrangement and that’s
been a lot of fun because sometimes we’re passing instruments around,”
and wife, Linda and Jeff have an extensive musicial background and are the
newest additions to the band. While Jeff is also a doctor, Linda has
absorbed her life in music. Starting off as a symphony musician, Linda
spent time freelancing in New York and playing with orchestras. She is the
director of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra.
Damn! is a really fun opportunity for me,” Linda said.
band name comes from an older saying that Pike uses frequently. He felt it
fit the style and time period of their music.
also has been playing music most of his life, starting with the drums in
high school rock bands; he eventually learned guitar, bass, banjo and
mandolin. The majority of Pike’s work is in pit orchestra music.
of what Hot Damn! performs is jazz standards, but they also add in some
country, western swing and gypsy jazz. The style is string-based with
percussion and a few vocals, but with no brass or woodwind instruments or
very upbeat music,” Linda said. “We’re more of an early ‘20s
unusual instrumentation,” Pike said. “No piano, no drums, we just have
percussion. It is a different type of jazz sound; it’s very listenable.”
aspect to the Hot Damn! band is improvisation among the band members.
a lot of spontaneity,” Pike said. “We usually know who’s going to
play the head of the song or the melody, but there’s improvisation.”
Damn! plays cover songs, but with their style, the originality comes in
with the improvisation. One traditional jazz song the band performs well
is “All of Me.” Another one of their unique songs is Patsy Kline’s
“Seven Lonely Days” and “Istanbul” by They Might Be Giants.
of the things I like about performing and improvising styles, regardless
of the style, is the opportunity to be an individual voice within an
ensemble,” Linda said.
Sheik of Araby” is one of the gypsy jazz favorites that fits the
to Linda, gypsy jazz has a “jumping rhythm” maintained continuously
throughout the song from a guitarist along with improvisation from
typically a violin, guitar and mandolin. The style is said to have started
in the early 1920s Paris with guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt.
really suits our instrumentation,” Linda said. “Jay is a rock solid
rhythm guitarist and really can keep this drive going.”
Pike said that while he loves the music he does in pit orchestras and with the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, those styles are much more regimented than the music he plays with Hot Damn!