Arts Alive - May/June 2016
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
The Mississippi Coast Stompers have been making a lot of great music and collecting fans since the original group got together 10 years ago.
Founder and band leader Jim Schnur, who returned to playing music after a 40-year career in academics, said it all got started when he was asked to fill in for some musicians playing at the Silver Slipper.
“I gathered four others and we started to play two Sundays every month,” Schnur said. “We’ve been going at it ever since. That will be 10 years in December.”
Consider their collective resumes: They have played in supper clubs, on Bourbon Street, in elegant hotels in New York and Miami, aboard cruise ships, in the Catskills, London pubs, at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. They’ve played with Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson and the Dukes of Dixieland.
Ron Simpson plays guitar and banjo. He’s performed in clubs in London, Chicago, Toronto and plays every year at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Drummer Hugh Barlow has played jazz, fusion and rock across the country and has earned raves from top drummers for his recordings.
Sadly, the band’s piano player, Ralph Martin, who played in Miami and New York hotels, as well as cruise ships in the Mediterranean, passed away recently.
But band continues to evolve with the addition of top notch musicians.
Chicagoan Chris Krueger, a retired Marine Corps band leader, plays trumpet, cornet, fluegelhorn and sings. John Hester, a retired chief bandmaster who had a career in the Navy, sings and plays trombone.
“It’s a great group,” Schnur said. “I’m really pleased with the musicianship of the group.”
“We just get our instruments out and we play,” he said. “It’s all in our heads.”
The Stompers songbook is heavy on traditional jazz, big band sounds and old standards with some contemporary music in the mix. Fans can easily find a lot to like when the group performs such favorites as St. James Infirmary, Fly Me to the Moon, the Girl from Ipanema and Stardust. Songs by Miles Davis are in the mix as well.
Schnur recounts an endorsement given to the Stompers by a successful local businessman who said, “I’ve got to go to New Orleans to get some of my friends and bring them here so they can hear some real New Orleans jazz.”
If you want to buy a CD, that’s easy, Schnur said. “You can come to the Silver Slipper to hear the Coast Stompers and we’ll be happy to sell you one.”
The Coast Stompers perform at the Silver Slipper Jubilee Buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first and second Sundays of each month (see the Shoofly Magazine Community Calendar for exact monthly dates).
The group also is available for special events such as weddings and parties, and you may have heard them play at a Second Saturday artwalk. They prefer to perform with all members, but “sometimes we break into smaller groups, as the occasion presents itself,” Schnur said.
To book the Mississippi Coast Stompers, contact: