Everyone should know the Superchiefs


(An old photo of the band. Photographer unknown.)

Free Download 01: “Beatin’ The Boards”
Free Download 02: “Love Is Just Around The Corner”

Long story short: The night after my grandmother died, I needed to take my mind off of my grief, if only for a moment. So I met up with some friends for drinks. At one point, two of them announced they were taking off for The Groove. There was an Open Mic Night there, and another friend of ours was going to sing. So we went.

I nestled my way between a handful of my friends, expecting to see a heavy rotation of singer-songwriter types. Instead, the MC announces that they have an unexpected surprise– The Superchiefs! I’ll be honest. I was excited like Christmas Morning. Most of my friends had never seen them live. Some had never even heard of them. But seeing how hyped up I was, they directed their attention to the five guys standing around the mic. And that’s when they launched into “All of Me”– a beautiful jazz classic recorded by everyone from Billie Holiday to Dean Martin… even NOFX!

The Superchiefs shuffled the song off to a smooth start, and Ben Calsbeek started singing, fiddle by his side. All of the sudden, the bar was gone. The year was gone. I was somewhere else. Somewhere beautiful. It’s not often a live band can do this. But every time I see The Superchiefs, that’s what happens: everything disappears, and when the set ends, you feel like a million bucks.

The Superchiefs specialize in “garage jazz,” performing compositions made famous in the 1930s and ’40s, and a handful of originals. According to Calsbeek, he and guitarist/vocalist Greg Cramer are the only remaining original Superchiefs, and serve as the band’s “musical directors.”

And the rest of the band? Ben says, “We’ve (he and Cramer) realized that surrounding ourselves with those musicians who are much more competant is a lot easier than in the old days. Now we just show up and let the others carry us along for the ride! Playing with these guys allows to fulfill our ‘aesthetic jones’, so to speak: to play the old jazz we love without really being ‘jazz musicians’…”

Backing up Calskbeek and Cramer are bassist Dave Gelting (of The Avalon Four, The Danglers); drummer John Sparrow (Violent Femmes, The Danglers); tenor sax player Troy Leisseman (The Uptown Savages, Upside Groove Coalition); and trombonist Dave Cusma (Kings Go Forth, Eat The Mystery).

So, can you buy their album? No. They don’t have one. But they do have more MP3s, like the ones above, free for the taking on their Web site. My suggestion? Start downloading now, and mark your calendars with the live dates listed below. Tell your friends. TAKE your friends. Then let me know how right I was about the experience.

See The Superchiefs live May 1st @ Club Timbuktu (520 E. Center St.) when they open for Boston-based swing trio, Miss Tess. Then catch them at the St. Roberts Church Fair on June 07. For more information and free music, visit them online at Superchiefs.com.

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One Response to “Everyone should know the Superchiefs”

  1. Ben Kalsbeek Says:

    gorgeous george (AKA ben calsbeek)is pure sex…on AND off the court

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