Put on yer beer-drinking shoes. The Big Payback is coming to Oktoberfest!

Check out this article in the La Crosse Tribune's Sunday edition:

La Crosse native's band to perform Saturday

September 27, 2015 12:00 am

La Crosse native Jamie Kember will return home with his band to perform at Oktoberfest.

The award-winning Madison band, The Big Payback, will play from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the South Side festgrounds.

After graduating from La Crosse Central High School in 2001, Kember earned a degree in trombone performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and a master’s degree in trombone performance and an instrumental teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kember, son of 2011 Oktoberfest festmaster and frau Jerry and Nan Kember, founded The Big Payback in 2009, and his band won Isthmus’ Band to Band Combat in 2011. That same year, the group released Overture, its debut album, which won three Madison Area Music Awards in 2012. One of these went to Kember for composing the title track, “Overture,” which won Jazz Song of the Year.

“I’m really excited to bring my band back home to La Crosse,” said Kember, the band’s trombone player and front man, said. “This show means a lot to me. For five years, this band has been my big payback — the place where I could write new music with my friends and share my passion for music with students and audiences all over Wisconsin. I can’t wait to show off this band full of talented musicians in front of my hometown. Plus, it’s Oktoberfest! I can’t imagine a better audience.”

A nine-piece horn band that specializes in funk, R&B, and jazz, Kember said the Big Payback is known for ambitious original tunes that challenge even the most talented instrumentalists.

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Reminiscent of Jon Batiste and Stay Human of the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the sound appeals to audience members across generations, Kember said. Live performances feature a mix of original tunes and new arrangements of popular songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix.

Throughout his middle and high school years, Jamie played in a band called The First Time Around that performed frequently around the La Crosse area.

Kyle's studio diary pt. 5 

More progress has been made on the new Big Payback album!

This weekend, we had two more six-hour sessions with Landon at Blast House Studios. We wanted to get the tracking 90% finished with these sessions. The main focus was getting all the horns recorded, and we ended up accomplishing that and more!

We had 5 songs on the docket for the horn session on Friday, and we hit the ground running. For our first album, Overture, we had put all four horns in the same room so they could stand side-by-side like a live show. We tried something different this time around. For editing purposes, we isolated each horn player in his own cage... err, booth. I don't think it diminished the sense of ensemble between the musicians, and it gave us a lot more flexibility when seeking the best take from each player. 

Present at the sessions were Jamie Kember (our fearless leader) on trombone, David Buss on bari and alto saxes, Tony Barba on tenor sax (and a clarinet solo!), and Eric Siereveld on trumpet and flugelhorn. We ended up finishing the first day of recording ahead of schedule, with only 4 full songs remaining to knock out the next day.

The trumpet book, complete with an old setlist and a pamphlet about the history of Lincoln High School in Manitowoc. Because why not?

The second day of recording also went smoothly, with only a slight hiccup. A rescue operation. Basically what happened was... I got locked in the bathroom. Something got stuck in the innards of the door locking mechanism, and it's thanks to the ingenuity of Landon and Tony that I'm even here today to type this story! They had to slip a screwdriver under the door so I could take off the handle from my end. My ordeal lasted all of 4 minutes, but it felt like... well, about 4 minutes. Always keep a screwdriver handy, I guess!

The horns finished up all their parts with time to spare. We also had time for Peter to lay down another solo on Fender Rhodes, Jeff to overdub a few bass parts, and me to take another crack at a guitar solo. We finished the day with background vocals on "Crosstown Traffic" and "Running with the Fire." 

All that remains is lead vocals on I think 2 or 3 songs, and a smattering of backing vocals and aux percussion. Then it's mixing time!


Hello friends,

I'm writing to tell you about a very special upcoming performance. This gig is a couple months off, but we want to put it on your radar now so you can mark your calendars. We are honored to pay tribute to the great Clyde Stubblefield!


Thursday, October 8 
6:00- 8:00 p.m.
Free, all ages
Overture Hall Main Lobby
201 State St., Madison

Featuring The Big Payback with members of the original James Brown Band (Clyde Stubblefield, Fred Wesley, Jabo Starks and Fred Thomas) and the Black Star Drum Line Performance Group

Clyde Stubblefield started his musical career as a child in Chattanooga, TN, “playing on tin can lids, pasteboard boxes – everything.” Since then Clyde has played all over the world and recorded with some of the greatest funk, soul, and R&B performers including James Brown, Otis Redding, and Clayton Fillyau.

While recording and performing with James Brown, Clyde joined John “Jab’o” Starks and they became known as the funkiest men alive. Clyde recorded “Funky Drummer”. He and Jab’o are the most sampled drum tracks in the world.

Come by any time between 6 & 8 PM. Grab a beer and some eats, and enjoy the best music Madison has to offer!

2015 MAMA Awards:
• Children’s Song of the Year: Black Star Drum Line featuring DLO, Ant Da Hope Boy, Rob Dz – Joey B. Banks – “Slam”
• Children’s Performer of the Year: Black Star Drum Line
• Jazz Performer of the Year: The Big Payback
• Drummer/Percussionist of the Year: Joey B. Banks – (The Big Payback)

Kyle's studio diary pt. 4 

Yesterday was the final full day of rhythm section tracking. I declare it a success!

Knowing the full band would show up at 6:00, we started around 4:00 by recording Leah's vocals over the best take of "Running with the Fire" from the previous night. Listening back to our hurried performance,  it definitely sounded better than I feared. Once the vocals were finished, the song started to take shape. However, I was still a little unhappy with my own performance on the song.

We had just enough time to re-do an out-of-tune guitar part on "Greenblood" before the rest of the band arrived. We knew that we had 6 hours to cover 5 songs, which is pretty tight considering the length and complexity of a couple of them. We had our work cut out for us! The band immediately went to work like the absolute pros that they are.

Thankfully, the rest of the night went like clockwork. We started with the 3 remaining songs with vocals. Leah sang in her isolation booth along with the rhythm section in the main room. We also had Jamie, Dave, and Eric Siereveld playing horns in another room. They were there to provide cues and energy for the rhythm section, and their real takes will be recorded later. 

As I mentioned earlier, the songs we saved for the last day were generally the ones that we were most familiar with. It really showed in the session. We made short work of even the most difficult parts. I was constantly reminded of the talent in this band. I am so fortunate to have a chance to play with the absolute best musicians around. Hats off!

Amazingly, we finished up the remaining 2 instrumental tunes with time to spare. We recorded an idea for a segue between songs, and Jeff and I even had some time to take another couple passes at those crazy difficult bits in "Running with the Fire." Poor Landon will have quite a few takes to sort through on that one.

Here's what we have left to do: horn parts, probably one more session with Leah to finish up vocals, maybe a few solos, and then some icing on the cake stuff (aux percussion, backing vocals, etc...). That seems very manageable to me right now. 

We also have a lot of footage to sort through, thanks to Elizabeth. So far, it seems like we're doing this album the right way. I'll keep updating this diary as we proceed, so stay tuned for more in a few weeks! 


Kyle's studio diary pt. 3 

The album is one day closer to completion. Things that didn't sound like much are now starting to sound like actual songs!

Yesterday's recording session began with lead vocals. Leah tackled "I Want to Give (My Love to You)" first. It's probably the poppiest song of the bunch, but it has a couple curveballs. I think we were able to capture some good dynamics in the vocal performance.

We followed that with the new tune, "Above the Rain." Again, this is a brand new song that we've never actually played from start to finish as a whole band, so my rough demo is the only guide we had. Dave Buss appeared halfway through the session and remarked that it was nice to finally hear someone other than me sing that song. I agree with him completely! Leah really hit her stride in the dramatic ending. 

Landon working his magic at the board, me having fun in a swivel chair

After recording vocals for "Greenblood," we found ourselves behind schedule. With only 90 minutes remaining, Jamie and I made the call to get the rhythm section to attempt "Running with the Fire." It's a pretty ambitious challenge, but we figured we'd be better off using the full 90 minutes to get one song than picking an easier song and ending up with 15 minutes of useless leftover time at the end of the night. That one came down to the wire. The session was hurried and a bit stressful, but I think we managed to get everything we needed. I feel OK about it right now. Time will tell.

It wouldn't be a true recording session without some of that pressure. We have 5 songs yet to record today. Fortunately, we'll get to focus on getting full rhythm section takes for the majority of the evening. No set up required, just plug in and play. It's a time crunch, but worrying about it won't help anything. As Jamie reminded me, we now have the most difficult material under our belt. All we can do give each song our best and see where we end up.



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