is a genuine greenhouse. Everything thrives and
swarms in it. Nothing stagnates. Its music
vibrates and lives and the bands develop by the
strength of their changing personnel. The same
goes for the Fondy Riverside Bullet Band as it
flowered like an exotic rose in the midst of the
brickyard furnaces quivering in their own heat
near the river Rupel. The musicians mentioned
are currently all full members of the band. We
offer their photographs and a short presentation
of their own hand starting with the two
“founding fathers” of course.
(leader & trombone).
My first encounter with (New Orleans) jazz is
situated around 1955: on the jukebox there are
records by Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet and … Louis
Armstrong, whose concert in 1958 in Brussels I
Almost 10 years later – in the meantime I’ve
become totally focused on art (realising a.o. a
few collages related to jazz and Louis Armstrong)
– I accept my brother Johnny’s invitation to go
and listen to a concert by the “Cotton City”.
That is the sparkle firing us to start playing
ourselves. Weekly rehearsals and weekly visits
to the Honky Tonk in Dendermonde result in the
birth of the Fondy Riverside Bullet Band and the
founding of the Jazzclub Het Veerhuis. From then
on it goes fast: yearly pilgrimages to New
Orleans, where we have the opportunity to meet
the New Orleans legends. With Jim Robinson, Dede
and Billie Pierce, Willie Humphrey, Cie Frasier
a.o. we experience the first big concert at the
New Orleans Jazzfestival in 1971. We see and
hear them all in New Orleans, but also in our
club Het Veerhuis (mostly) accompanied by the
Cotton City. Later still we ourselves get the
opportunity to perform with Kid Sheik, Willie
Humphrey, Kid Thomas, Louis Nelson, Sing Miller,
Freddie Kohlman, Thomas Jefferson, Wallace
Davenport and Alvin Alcorn and Jeanette Kimball
(with the latter two we record an LP).
Trombone player Jim Robinson, who has the most
gripping tone and a perfect timing as far as I
am concerned, dies on 6th May 1976. I leave for
New Orleans and get the opportunity to play on
his funeral. Jim’s death is to me so to speak
the end of New Orleans as a place of pilgrimage.
AFRAID TO STAY HERE? AFRAID TO LEAVE THIS TOWN.
Our aim remains to keep New Orleans music alive.
Johnny Van Breedam
(trumpet & vocals).
24-09-1945. In my youthful years I was a fan of
Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats
Domino. Blues, Rhythm & Blues and Rock &
Rollmusic from the sixties. It was not a
coincidence that those were all black people who
later led me together with my older brother, via
the roots of Leadbelly, to the music of Louis
Armstrong and Kid Ory. They were my initial
collector’s items in jazz music.
Somewhat sooner I already happened to start
playing an old bugle from the local carnival
brassband my father played in. A merry band with
old discarded musical instruments in which only
one musician, a great trumpet player from a
dance orchestra, played the melody, while the
rest blasted away as loudly and as out of tune
As a 16-year old I was accepted in the group and
quickly exchanged my valveless bugle for a
dilapidated cornet and learned to play that
instrument gradually by ear and by watching the
“ leader’s” fingering. Three members of that
group were also the cofounders and musicians of
the FRBB in 1970.
In 1971 a dream came true: for the first time to
New Orleans. Unfortunately this was also the
year my idol “Satchmo” went to the happy hunting
grounds. All these events brought about a
turning point in my musical life. From then on I
became eternally devoted to New Orleans music.
(clarinet & sax).
Kassel in 1967. Mother comes from a musical nest, among
them a few accordion fanatics. When I was about ten
years old, I began to play this instrument. Quickly
enough we formeda small “band” with a few friends and
the neighbourhood could witness our weekly jam sessions.
Only when I was 16 I exchanged the keyboard for the
clarinet. In my mother’s record collection were the
great classics of those days: Glenn Miller, Benny
Goodman … and The Dutch Swing College Band. A new “fire”
was stirred up and the search for the “pure style” led
me literally and figuratively to New Orleans.
From 1993 I played with the Mardi Gras Jazzband, the
former house orchestra of the Honky Tonk Jazzclub in
Dendermonde. At the end of 1998 I formed the Louisiana
Pelican Jazzband with some Dutch friends. At the end of
2002 I got the opportunity to play with the “Fondy”. An
offer that I could not refuse.
Apart from my love for New Orleans jazz there is still
some room for the local band. In daily life I play the
clarinet in the Royal Music Chapel of the Belgian
At the age of 12 I started to play the guitar.
Sometime later I was inspired by the sounds of a
banjo in “Little Banjoboy” by Jan and Kjelt.
Because almost everybody was playing the guitar
at that time I switched to the tenor banjo. In
those days the “Dutch Swing” was one of my
favourite bands. After a few years I was the
leader of a dixieland band myself “The Dutch
Dixie Minders” from Oisterwijk (NL).
When I was 20 I experienced my first contact
with New Orleans music and I was immediately
affected by the melodious and rhythmic way this
music was played. Music with such an amount of
passion and emotion was new to me! I became the
banjo player in the Storyville Jazzband from
Eindhoven and played there with Butch Thompson
and Ken Colyer a.o.
After about 10 years this orchestra disbanded
and I came in the picture with the Fondy
Riverside Bullet Band. From 1978 onwards I have
been playing the tenor banjo with the “Fondy”.
With the “Fondy” I got the opportunity to play
with many original New Orleans musicians. In the
meantime Belgium has become my second home.
the insiders also known as “smetse”. Born in
1966 and raised in the neighbourhood of Ghent. A
New Orleans training was included in my
education. All necessary ingredients were
suggested by my father (Jean Pierre De Smet).
Already at the age of 15 I began to play as
snaredrummer with various Belgian brassbands. My
first band was “The Creole Memories Jazzband”.
Since many years now I am a full member of the
Fondy Riverside Bullet Band.
Born in 1974 in Ghent. I used to play regularly with my
father Koen and my three brothers Dajo, Waso and Myrdin.
Then one day there happened to be a piano in a place
where the “Fondys” were playing, dressed in red,
together with my father. There was no piano player end
they let me sit in.
It was a fantastic start: fun, joy and especially love
for the music! I am glad that apart from drawing and
painting (which is a lonely occupation altogether, just
by yourself in your studio) I can participate and play
every two weeks during a fantastic evening of New
Orleans jazz in the jazzclub in Klein Willebroek. HET
VEERHUIS: what a place!
Born in Kortrijk (B) 11 November 1952. I began
to play music around 1968 in a skiffle and folk
& bluesband on a snare bass I had built myself.
Later I bought a real bass and from 1973 I
played New Orleans jazz with the Golden River
City Jazz Band. In 1976 I joined the Cotton City
Jazz Band. With this band I toured a.o. with
Freddy Kohlman, Alvin Alcorn and Alton Purnell.
From 1982 to 1984 I played full time with the
Sammy Rimington Band in almost every country
between Finland and Italy, sometimes with guests
like Louis Nelson, Thomas Jefferson, Kid Thomas
and Al Casey. Due to circumstances I left this
band and up to now I have been playing as a full
member with various bands, such as the Fondy
Riverside Bullet Band, to my mind Belgium’s most
authentic New Orleans Jazzband, and Catfish, the
blues, country and rock&rollband from Ghent. As
a professional I have been playing mostly with
The Swing Cats (NL) for the last 10 years.
That’s why I am more often than I like replaced
by able colleagues in the FRBB. The yearlong
friendship and the adventures with the Fondy
musicians, the crew and the public of Het
Veerhuis and the love of New Orleans music keep
me from really saying goodbye to this cherished