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Friday From the Vault – Jamo’s Banditos

“Well, they used to call me, ‘The Lady With the Smile,'” my mom said as she rocked back in the blue chair in our living room. It creaked out sounds in a pattern that varied depending on the rhythm of the person rocking. I used to form the squeaky cadence into words, pretending the chair was talking in a haggard old wooden voice when I was young.

But today, it was my mother who was doing the talking. She was telling me about an awesome Caribbean funk band she used to go see in Atlanta, GA in the late ’60s called, Jamo’s Banditos.

“I had kind of gotten to know Greg Allman, and the Allman brothers were playing all the time in Atlanta. I would go see them a lot. One night Jamo and the Banditos was their opening act.”

As mom and I talked a bit more, a familiar smile crept onto her face. It was a smile that said, “a lot more happened than I’m actually going to let on, and we’re both going to pretend that it didn’t…”

“I remember that horn section was just absolutely incredible. They had a lot of energy, and it was so much fun. I think what I remember the most, though, was the drums. They had a big percussion section when they played live, and I would just stand in the front row and smile at them. That’s why they started calling me, ‘The Lady With the Smile.'”

She went on to tell me about all the times she went and saw Jamo’s Banditos, how she became an integral part of their show banter, how the percussion section gifted her SEVERAL drum sticks, and how much fun she had at their shows. I could tell from her mannerisms, her squinty eyed laugh, and the transported look on her face when she talked about this band, that in addition to being a phenomenal group, they represented an incredible time in my mom’s life.

It was then that I decided I would track down some Jamo’s Banditos records for her. This proved to be a bit difficult, because when we first had this conversation, she inadvertently said the name of the band was “Jamo AND THE Banditos.” This yielded absolutely no search results on the internet, and no one in any record stores had heard of that band. Over the next few years, I picked up and put down researching this band, forgetting about my little project for long stretches of time.

It was during my tenure as an overnight tape operator with a television production company in Chicago that I picked up my research with a renewed tenacity. I quickly began spending less of my time tape operating and more of my time trolling music blogs and online record stores like some sort of music-crazed mad man. It was during one of these music-induced web-gasms that I stumbled across a record store in the UK with an original 45 pressing of a band called, “Jamo’s Banditos.” The song on the a-side was called, “Footprint in the Sand,” a detail my mother had recalled during our conversation at my house that day. This happened to be a few weeks before my mother’s birthday. I purchased the record on the spot and had it shipped to her. She received it the day before her birthday, and we have not stopped listening to it since. (Sidenote: The B-Side is a super repetitive, dance-y instrumental number with this really awesome, psychedelic guitar solo and a super simple piano riff throughout. Definitely a foot stomper.)

I can’t find out much information (besides events recounted by my mom) about Jamo’s Banditos other than that the single “Footprint in the Sand” was released on Nassau Records. There’s another blog (Funky 16 Corners) with a post about a cat named, “Mr. Jamo” (not to be confused with Chicago based artist, Jamo Thomas.) This Jamo’s Banditos record was produced by a one Mr. Jamo, so there could be some correlation there.

The singer has an incredible, soulful, and natural voice that perfectly compliments the blaring horn section, and the drumming is nasty. (Just like my mama told me!) This is definitely an amazing little funk gem. It was recorded in ATL.

I can’t remember exactly where I got this record, but you can definitely find it out there in the ether.

Listen: Jamo’s Banditos – Footprint in the Sand

Posted by: Jamie

Category: Music

11 Mar, 2011

Category: Music

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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