When we landed in Daytona a couple of years ago, it only took a matter of days to discover the home of Blues music in town – the Bank and Blues Club on Main Street. The local bands and musicians who take the stage at the Daytona Blues Society’s Wednesday Night Blues Jam play some excellent down-home music. Then, as now, the show starts at 8:30 with a break at 10 pm for the impromptu jam session, which often runs until the wee hours.
But there was one small problem. There was no master of ceremonies for the weekly show. Musicians aren’t exactly shy people, so someone would usually introduce the other players or the next song, but a real emcee adds class and keeps things running smoothly, unlike some jams where players are waiting to play but nobody’s in charge.
So, by Chance, along came the man for the job. Chance Gardner is a long-time Blues man who knows the music and what it takes to put a group of musicians together. He also knows the local bands and can make sure that a variety of deserving Blues players are featured on The Bank’s stage. Just to be safe, Chance brings along his own band, the Blues Daddies, to take the spotlight on scheduled nights, fill in on the slow ones, and provide backup for the featured singers.
The new format has been getting some tweaking, but it is working out well, and Blues fans are once again returning to the Bank and Blues Club, some for the early show and a larger group of night owls for the open-ended jam.
A big challenge for any jammaster is keeping the jammers — and the audience — happy. Chance’s sign-in sheet, where musicians register to play in the jam session, states the Club rules: “You may not always play in the same order you signed up in, so tell me if you need to leave early or if you came in with a group. We’re here for you — both mature players and young bloods still learning the ropes.”
A good example was a recent week when Daytona State College music professor Jake Nicely brought one of his student ensembles to play at the Wednesday Blues Jam. The combination of student musicians and old time Blues players brought the audience to its feet.
Chance Gardner has been playing the Blues for long enough to know many of the greats personally. His roots go back to Mobile, Alabama where he heard gospel music at church on Sundays, learning a bluesy style of gospel that influenced his early guitar playing in high school. Later he lived and played in Boston and Maui, Hawaii before coming to Daytona.
He says some Blues singers have had a big impact on his career, people like “Earring” George Mayweather (when he was in JB Hutto’s band, his was the first harmonica recorded through an amp), who gave him a lot of “home truths” about what it takes to be a Bluesman.
Chance remembers Silas Hubbard Jr., who “took me under his wing. Chris ‘Stovall’ Brown taught me showmanship and style. Luther ‘Guitar Jr’ Johnson (from Muddy Waters’ band) taught me how to collect my pay. Paul Simon told me his secret was to ‘never give up’.”
Put Chance on a stage and he becomes an emcee, musician, entertainer and showman. He has been known to play the guitar with his teeth when he feels like it. He won four Hawaii Music Awards in rock and blues categories. He is also a songwriter, having composed songs like “The Preacher” and “Fate Stepped In.”
Chance and the Blues Daddies
The Blues Daddies are a five-piece rockin’ Blues band that plays what has been described as “blues music cooked on a grill with rocket fuel” and “John Lee Hooker on steroids.” They play both cover and original Blues songs, many influenced by Blues legends like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Big Joe Williams, and Jimi Hendrix.
The band has produced several CDs over the years, including “Deaf Dog Blues” (2003) and “Easy Come and Easy Go” (2005).
In addition to Chance Gardner, the original band lineup consisted of Patrick McDonald as the bass man for the Blues Daddies. Raised in South Texas, he played with the Vaughan Brothers, Billy Gibbons (pre ZZ Top), Mike Knuse (Fever Tree) in Houston’s “La Maison”. He recorded with Lightnin’ Hopkins when he was still a young’un (“played the bass all day for twenty bucks! I didn’t know no better”). Later he toured with the Steve Miller Band, Todd Rundgren and Billy Joel.
Bernie Mansell was the drummer — the “Girl from Texas with a Big, Big Heart” and the driving force behind the band. Steve Sargenti played harmonica, banjo, and mandolin, and Dave Hissey was the keyboard guy, playing the Hammond B-3 and accordion.
The current band lineup consists of Chance on lead guitar, Bob Perrone on keyboards, Stan the Man on bass, Toby Fletcher on drums and Stephen Kampa on harps.
Chance and the Blues Jam All-Stars
On Wednesday nights, Chance Gardner’s leads the Blues Jam All-Stars, helping keep the Blues alive by driving the weekly jam session, sponsored by the Daytona Blues Society. Currently the All Stars are a revolving lineup of local Blues players backing up Chance on the second and third Wednesdays of each month. The first Wednesday of each month is reserved for a male featured singer or band, and the fourth Wednesday spotlights a female featured singer or band. The jam session always follows the featured act at 10 pm until whenever.
The Club charges a measley $3 cover charge at the door, but members of the Daytona Blues Society get in for only $2. After 10 pm, admission is free.
Daytona 500 Flash Mob
At this year’s Daytona 500 race, NASCAR fans were in for a pre-race surprise. Over 550 local residents participated in Daytona Flash Mob 2011, an energetic medley of songs and dances showcasing local Daytona songwriters and musicians. The My City Medley was featured on a YouTube video called “Daytona Flash Mob 2011” and is built from five songs that celebrate life, love and “proud to be from here” sentiments. Chance was one of the three songwriters on the Medley. Check out the video link with this article — that’s Chance Gardner up on the stage (to the right).
These days Gardner is happy with his Wednesday night gig, playing Blues with Blues musicians in a true Blues club with a Blues name. He has a vision for returning The Bank to its former fame as a Blues joint, like the old days when “clubs consistently booked really good bands so customers would know that whoever was playing there that night would be top-notch. Unfortunately, today’s club mentality often makes the bands responsible for marketing the gig at their venue, or impose a ‘pay to play’ requirement, where bands buy the tickets in advance and sell them themselves.”
His day job is running a business called Biketona in Ormond Beach, where he does customizing, routine service, electrical/electronic service, detailing, and emergency repairs on motorcycles, providing roadside assistance, free towing, and lifetime preventive maintenance. And yes, during Biketoberfest and Bike Week, there will be bikini bike washes and live music. It just don’t get no better!
Let us hear from you!
How do you feel about the Daytona club scene? What kinds of live music do you look for around town? What do you feel is missing? We’d like to hear from you — drop us a line in the Comments section below.
For more info . . .
- Phone 305-790-0011
- Booking Agent backstagemamas.com
- Press Contact [email protected]
- Website chancegardner.com (includes the latest show schedule)
- Reverbnation: reverbnation.com/show/5038978
- MySpace: myspace.com/chancegardnerband#!/chancegardnerband
- Bank & Blues Club: daytonabeachmainstreet.com