New Orleans 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.



Camiel Van Breedam (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 attended.
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).
Born 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 possible.
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.

 

Danny Everaert (clarinet & sax).
Born in 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 Airforce.

 

Jos Koster (tenor banjo).
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.

 

Philippe De Smet (drums).
To 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.

 

Vigdis De Cauter (piano).
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!

 

Karel Algoed (bass).
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 “gang”.