Oddball cover songs, fun original tunes and exuberant playing form a wacky hybrid of pop/swing/jazz and polka. Vintage musics for the future! CaMp CoMbO joins a list of bands who inject some entertaining, arty fun into popular music. This includes 1940-50's nutbar Spike Jones, Mexician Esquivel's crazy 1950's arrangements, Toronto's zany Shuffle Demons and USA's quirky Squirrel Nut Zippers. Toronto live-music visionary and blogger Lonely Vagabond called us "Hipster vaudeville! "
The best way to hear, download or stream ALL our music is: Go to our Bandcamp page ! Also Spotify, iTunes and other streaming services. Head for the sky and find us on the Soundcloud, if that's your hang. Get those plastic CDs (in Toronto) at Sonic Boom, Village Vinyl (Lakeshore W.) and Pandemonium (in The Junction...great vinyl selection!)
Torontoist - Urban Planner (Nov 13/12 The Reservoir Lounge) - Every night there’s a seemingly infinite amount of forgettable indie bands playing in bars across the city. Tonight, why don’t you try something a little different? Fred Spek’s CaMp CoMbO promises a memorable evening, with their upbeat hybrid of pop, swing, jazz, and polka (lovingly known as “hipster vaudeville”). Don’t be surprised when a few TV theme songs and surf beats make their way onto the set list.
"Camp Combo play a fun and somewhat bizarre blend of pop, swing, jazz and polka music, comparable to the off-beat wackiness of Spike Jones or Esquivel. They've just finished their EP "Roughin' It" Daniel Woodhead - blogTO
Canada's superlative music magazine ExCLAiM! reviews our EP Rock, Paper, Scissors": After a long winter hibernating you may be thinking, "I need something to raise my spirits, something to give me an emotional spring cleaning." Look no further. Fred Spek and his cheerful bunch of summer music campers have got the antidote for anybody's case of the grumpies. With good-spirited humour and exuberant playing, Rock, Paper, Scissors takes a vaudevillian view of life and love. Delivered in a declamatory style reminiscent of Frank Zappa on Freak Out, Spek belts out lyrics like, "I'll never forget my blunder/Until you're six feet under" that will bring a wry smile to even the most sullen of listeners. The four-song EP keeps its rib-tickling focus throughout, including on the raucous reading of the 1895 pop tune "And the Band Played On." Camp Combo also provide food for thought, painting a vivid picture of God and Satan playing rock, paper, scissors to determine some hapless human's fate. This is a fun disc that's appropriate for pleasant social gatherings with friends and family." - by Glen Hall
Mysterious, ubiquitous music scenester Lonely Vagabond had this to blog: "Fred Spek is a modern day Al Jolson-meets-Benny Goodman, part entertainer, part bandleader. The music is a bouncy carousel seamlessly blending jazz, swing, and ragtime. Offbeat characters capturing that sparkle of a Mardi Gras procession. A throwback, spattering of minstrelism and rousing musicianship, in the heart of Torontopia. A cuddly heart. With the spirit to match."
Stanley Fefferman of The Live Music Report when renowned music booker Gary Topp had us open for T.O.F.U. "...and you would love to dig the opening band, Fred Spek's Neo-Swing band Camp Combo playing tunes like the theme from "Secret Agent Man", and "Animal Crackers in My Soup"
Commuter rag DOSE gave us a plug:"Great jazz doesn't always have to come from dark and tortured souls. Take Fred Spek's Camp Combo, for example. This quartet delivers goofy jazz and novelties. Just don't let any Billie Holiday fans know. There may be a riot, with jazz hands flying." - Christine Clarke
We opened for the X-rated musical/comedy duo The Wet Spots at Revival Club one Valentines night, and some blogTO blogger said: "The opening act, Fred Spek's Camp Combo, featured all of the elements essential for a novelty act: mad-paced, frenetic music that careened wildly between lounge and jazz, the all-important banjo and a singer sporting..." To read the rest, click here.
Fred Spek did an interview and solo performance for Centennial College's The Journal, a student magazine style cable show (2008). His bit is the last piece, so scroll to the end once it downloads!
Impresario Jaymz Bee took his Jazz Safari to a gig at Parkdale's (now defunct) Mitzi's Sister, and had this to say: "...we went to Mitzi's Sister to enjoy Camp Combo. It was quirky music that featured raspy sax solos and some daring vocals from Fred Spek. One Safari-ite observed; "These guys are much better musicians than they are letting on!" while another said "It's nice to see these young boys having so much fun, they're really odd!" It was a memorable and wacky way to end our first Jazz Safari of the season. Jaymz also hosts "Jazz In The City"</A> on Toronto's JazzFM - Fridays 9pm-12
Toronto music influencer/blogster D.S. Faris says..."an upbeat, swingin' set from a highly entertaining alt-jazz outfit. Fred Spek leads Camp Combo, a unique quartet on the Toronto jazz scene in that they operate almost as a novelty act, selecting obscure and unusual numbers from the distant past to complement their own off-kilter originals. They sound a bit like a circus sideshow act, a ramshackle group of players belting out songs heard on scratchy old 78s and LPs found at garage sales, but behind all the wacky fun are some serious chops to back it up.
Band leader Fred Spek plays tenor sax and sings. Formerly with: novelty act The Mood Swingers, ska band Inner City Fanatics, art rockers Braino, ska-funk Dub Enforcement Agency, art-damaged Blank Crowd, Jason Clark's jazzed Bug Nite and others. He's shared the stage with Mary Margaret O'Hara (she blew bubbles while he crooned "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"), performs in Richard Underhill's street band The Kensington Horns. He's done gigs with Michael Louis Johnson's free blowing party band Rambuctious and is a regular guest with Toby Hughes & The New Orleans Connection Jazz All-Stars (Sundays at Grossman's). He's sat-in with bluesman Jake Chisholm, Mad Bastard Kevin Quain, swing-punk Big Rude Jake and more. His list of original tunes continues to grow, and Fred acknowledges support from the Ontario Arts Council, who awarded him a songwriters grant in 2011.
Nichol S. Robertson was born and raised. He plays banjo, guitar and other people's feelings. Currently Nichol runs his own bands The Honkytonk Boogaloo Boys, The Layrite Boys duo, and also enjoys selling his soul to such musical acts as Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People, with Ted Hawkins in Thelonious Hank, Victor Bateman's Another Country, Devin Cuddy, Whitney Smith, Ian Goodhue's rockin' soul revue The Mercenaries, Stones cover band Dead Flowers, CCR cover band Locomotion and is in demand by many others. In the future, he hopes to sell his soul to much more lucrative acts (i.e. Metallica, Lawrence Welk or the people who do the music for Saturday morning Christian channel shows).
Distinguished organists we've had our way with include long timers Ben Mueller-Heaslip and Waylen Miki, guests Joel Visentin, Nathaniel Edgar, Jeff McLeod, Ryan Driver, Tania Gill, Kelsey McNulty, Dafydd Hughes, Meher Steinberg, Marcel Aucoin, Peter Hill, Jason Kenemy, Cindy Fairbank, and accordionist Fabrice Sicco.
Fine and fun bass players include groovy Rachel Melas who's done lotsa gigs, as had Micheal "Blitz" Kaler. JUNO winner Brandi Disterheft did a couple gigs, living legend Victor Bateman, Wes Neal, Mike Herring, Brian Kobayakawa, Jon Meyer, Chris Banks, and one special night Ka-Cheong Liu blew his tuba!
Great guitarists such as Eric St. Laurent, Tom Juhas, James "Champagne" Robertson, Rizaldo Padilla, and Margaret Stowe, have also played with the band. Hot horns include trumpet blower Brian Cram, trombonists Scott Good and Steve Donald, alto saxist Toby Hughes as well as baritone Ben Burke who have all blown their horns with us, and whatta blast it was!