Shakin' It Up Like the 1940s

Jump bluesmen Stompy Jones brings their swinging beat to classic Marin roadhouse
Take a pre-Christmas jaunt to rural Marin where one of the Bay Area's prime purveyors of 1940s jump blues, Stompy Jones (pictured here), will shake it up
at Rancho Nicasio.
'For-real' Marin roadhouse for Stompy Jones show.
Their latest album.

If you love the hard-driving sounds of 1940s jump blues—you know, the kind made famous by men like Roy Milton, Louis Jordan, and Roy Brown—then you might consider a pre-Christmas jaunt to rural Marin where one of the Bay Area’s prime purveyors of the sound will shake it up at Rancho Nicasio.

Stompy Jones plays Rancho Nicasio in western Marin County Friday, December 18 during the restaurant’s ‘Yuletide Crab Feed Weekend.’ The show starts at 7:45 p.m. with dance lessons.

What? You say you don’t dig the music? Well neither did Stompy Jones’ founder and bandleader Little David Rose.

A jazz bassist, he auditioned for a band some years back and was sent home with some sides by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five and T-Bone Walker. “I thought ‘this is not my thing,’” Rose recalls. But he gave them a spin.

“I couldn’t believe it. It blew my mind. It’s not sitting-in-the-back-of-the-restaurant kind of music. It’s in-your-face dance music that has a great beat. It appeals to me like crazy.”

This was the music, he explains, that evolved in the 1940s as swing bands were going down and record companies decided they could create just as full a sound with fewer musicians, say, five or six.

Stompy Jones’ music is authentic, Little David Rose says, sticking to “the arpeggiated bass line, the ‘bounce’ feel of the piano, playing on the off beats, and the shuffle of the drums played with brushes, [which] create the ‘jump’ sound that characterized the rhythm and blues music of the ‘40s.”

“We play it for real. The sound is pretty much right off the old records,” he says.

Also for real is the venue for the upcoming gig. Rancho Nicasio, a roadhouse from circa 1940, couldn’t be a better spot, truly evoking the period.

Stompy Jones, together since 1999, has long been a fixture Tuesday nights at the Verdi Club in San Francisco’s Mission District. It’s a dancers’ scene, starting with lessons before each performance, as neophyte boppers learn new steps and true hepcats grow even more proficient.

“We’re the king of that scene,” he says of the Lindy Hoppers who flock to 1940s and ‘50s-themed dances. “That’s what has kept us alive.”

You won’t often catch Stompy Jones at bars, though. “The problem with playing at bars is swing dancers don’t drink as much as bars want them to drink,” Little David says. “When they’re doing turns and swirls [if dancers drink], they start falling down.”

For more on Stompy Jones’ Rancho Nicasio date, click here.

Free Holiday Concert at Eichler
Clubhouse in Lucas Valley

The Lucas Valley Chamber Orchestra, which is based in Eichler’s subdivision of Upper Lucas Valley, performs its annual free holiday concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 20.

The Lucas Valley community center is at 1201 Idylberry Road, in the heart of one of Eichler’s loveliest subdivisions. After the show, drive around a bit to enjoy the neighborhood’s many Christmas lights.

On the bill for this ensemble, which performs without a conductor and rehearses at the community center: Concerto for Two Trumpets by Vivaldi, Gounod’s Petite Symphonie, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

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