Concerts in Kansas City with big name artists can be fun, but there’s nothing like supporting local talent.
On March 18, the Lawrence based band, The House Jumpers, sang at Faces by Mayfield, an locally owned bar in Topeka’s NOTO arts district. The district is known for its community engagement, and Faces is a new business in the district that has married live entertainment with local cuisine. The bar has hosted open mic nights, dance classes and several local bands. The House Jumpers, a local blues band, is the latest act to perform at the venue. “It’s really great what James Mayfield is doing in Topeka with African American art and that’s where our music comes from,” said Marvin Hunt, the band’s lead guitarist.
The band is made up of five dedicated members. Hunt is the guitarist of the group and is joined by his wife, who is a familiar face at Washburn, Catherine Hunt. More commonly known to Washburn students as the director of the music education department Hunt is the very dedicated lead singer of The House Jumpers. The band is also made up of Steve Montgomery, the group’s bass player, and Chris Millspaugh who plays the harmonica, or rather a large variety of harmonicas that play different tonic scales and produce different sounds. The band’s usual drummer, Josh Conner, was not performing for the evening, as he was taking care of his recently newborn baby. Friend of the group, Jerry Riccardi took Connor’s spot for the evening.
Faces was filled to the brim with waiters rushing food and drinks to the full tables of boisterous and excited patrons of the bar all excited to hear The House Jumpers play their jump blues style. “We’ve been playing for years but things really started forming together when Chris and Steve joined us about two or three years ago,” Marvin Hunt said of the band. “Steve and I went to high school together and, when we ran into each other thirty years later, we realized we both liked the blues when we met each other at a classic blues club.”
The journey has been quite a ride for them and the band has enjoyed resurrecting the forgotten female musicians of the blues movement. “We keep discovering new artist we hadn’t heard of thanks to the internet like Camille Howard and Ruth Brown and were very important to the movement but got lost in the shuffle,” Catherine Hunt said.
The band has an upcoming album from House Rent Records arriving soon that will feature several local artists from the Topeka and Lawrence area, including The Santiago Brothers who have frequent gigs at Faces. The House Jumpers next performance will be at 7 p.m. on Apr 15 at The Jazzhaus on 926 Massachusetts St, Lawrence, KS.