• Sam Sumpter

Ginger & The Gents: A Year In Review

It’s Wednesday night and that means band rehearsal for Ginger and the Gents. As I trek down the stairs and reach for the handle to the practice room, I hear the familiar dirty rock style of their music and the soulful, gritty female voice I have come to know so well. I enter as quietly and inconspicuously as I am able, trying my best not to disturb the magicians at their craft.

The stage is set: Seated behind a set of DDrum Bombardier drums is the band’s percussionist, Steven Butler. The beat he creates pulses with unmistakable dynamism, beguiling me and coercing my head to bob up and down ever so slightly to the rhythm.

Next my gaze is drawn to the lead guitarist, Jesse Kyle Long. He picks at a cream-colored Fender Stratocaster as he perches on the edge of a bar stool, his eyes drawn towards his hands as the melody they labor to foster ebbs and flows, seeking and consequently finding the proverbial “sweet spot”; to sit in its pocket and simply groove.

Towards the back of the room with a red hoodie tenting his head sits the band’s bassist, Sam Sumpter. He plucks at an Orange P-Bass, (the name denoting its fiery color) emitting rich, dark tones that thrum and vibrate in harmony with the Fender and give birth to the “funk” we have all come to expect from this unparalleled instrument, as it tantalizes our core and elicits silky smooth gyrations from our contented bodies.

And finally, Chandra Marie, singer and songwriter; the “Ginger” to the Gents. Hair kissed by fire and heart ablaze with its flame. What can I say about this femme fatale? Plenty. She grants me a smile and half a wave, never missing a beat as she belts out the lyrics to a brand spanking new original song, having not as yet made its stage debut, as it is still in the creative process and lacks at this point even a name. Her voice is as a summer storm; rolling forth like a resonant thunder; palpable electricity in its strains and a tenacious grit like the patter of raindrops. It is richly deep in its alto wheelhouse; a driving and forceful timbre, powerful and edgy, possessing astonishing range; crescendoing and climaxing to the most rousing and rowdy of rock songs, yet knowing how and when to employ restraint, achieving subdued and mellow tones to grace us with an impassioned and provocative ballad. She is a phenom; born to command a stage and destined to bewitch the masses with her extraordinary and sensational talent.

As rehearsal wraps up, the gang decides to take a much needed break. We retire upstairs, chat leisurely for a few minutes, and I commence my interview. My focus? A year in review of this relatively young band, the last cohesive agents coming together after discovering its final member, bassist Sam Sumpter, on December 19th, 2015.

After speaking with all four band members at length, I get a pretty good idea of some of the more memorable events of the year that made an indelible impression. It is virtually impossible to regale every noteworthy moment a band experiences within a twelve month span, but I will do my best to convey just a few that stood out to GATG and that I also feel are abundantly deserving of respectful recognition. So let us take pause, ladies and “gents”, to immerse ourselves in delightful nostalgia and travel through time together as we recall with fondness the exhilarating journey of the past year with our favorite local band, Ginger and the Gents.

2017 saw impressive growth and some truly stellar shows and interviews from our beloved GATG, including but not limited to, an appearance on Park City Television’s (PCTV) MTN Views, the release of a full-length debut album, a radio interview on KBER 101, Royal Fest, the annual nationally recognized motorcycle rally, Sturgis, as well as “Women Who Rock” at The State Room, the 16th Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Bash at The Depot, “Royal Blissmas”, and The New Year’s Eve Eve Show at the Barbary Coast Saloon.

We begin our trip with MTN Views, a live evening television show on Park City Television (PCTV) with host, Terry Burden, which features local bands and talent. He invited GATG to showcase their distinctive sound and conduct a firsthand interview. He stated that he was a big fan and he had been trying to get the band on the show for weeks. The appearance took place on May 3rd, 2017. The band launched into “Walk Tall”, a little ditty about knowing when to give and when to hold back; learning from the past and resolving to “take only what you need” and “leave everything else behind” while you “shed your dying skin”, realizing it is “time to trade it in” and find the inner strength to “hold your head up high” and proudly and unabashedly “walk tall”.

Next came “Rambler”, an inspirational song about the inevitable trials of life we all experience and the unmistakable rewards of picking yourself up from the ground, dusting yourself off, and bravely carrying on as you “remember where you came from” and hold “no regrets for the life that [you] live”.

A break now between songs as the gang is invited to recline on the sofa and commence a conversation about how they came together, what they have accomplished thus far, and where they see themselves in the future as it relates to the band and the goals they wish to accomplish. Terry is warm and engaging; a natural talk show personality. He possesses an admirable love of music and considerable knowledge of homegrown talent, declaring Ginger and the Gents to be his newest favorite. The interview flows easily and comfortably, the atmosphere one of old and appreciated friends, even though they have only just recently met.

Time now to take the stage one last time for a third and final song: White Noise (Mother Love); my personal favorite. It speaks of perceiving things of the spirit, even (and especially) in the midst of so much “white noise” and the deafening static of the world and its preoccupation with the shallow and materialistic. It whispers and suggests the notion that “brave and peaceful warrior you might be” if you would only “when you need a helping hand…...dig deep, reach out to me”. Our non-severable connection with Mother Earth and the undeniable right we have earned to exist and thrive within Her is justifiable only as She graciously allows it and nourishes us with every needful thing. Simply put, we owe Her; not the other way around, and as we strive to repay a debt to Her that will never fully be equated, She will keep Her promise to us; to sustain us and encircle us about with Her unmatched and enviably majestic gifts. At least that’s what I get out of the song; you may interpret it another way entirely, but that is one of the beauties of music and indeed all forms of art; everyone experiences it in a unique and personal way and no interpretation is wrong.

Next we revisit a monumentally important highlight of 2017; the release of GATG’s first full-length album on May 13, which is also lead singer Chandra’s birthday. A self-entitled work of nine songs; eight original works and one cover song, The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil, rearranged and renamed Pleased to Meet You, of which they were required to submit to none other than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, respectively, for a listen and a subsequent nod of approval to record and distribute, which they did, at the cost of a pretty penny, and for a ten percent profit under the conditions of perpetuity. The release was celebrated with an electric performance by GATG that evening at The Ice Haus in Murray, Utah to a packed house, followed with a crowd pleasing show by the talented and seasoned band, American Hitmen. The cd is available for purchase online through ITunes, Spotify and Amazon for $9.99.

Shortly after their visit to MTN Views, the band is invited to make a guest appearance on The Salt Lake Soundcheck, a weekly Sunday evening radio show broadcast on KBER 101 FM, hosted by fun-loving radio personality, Corky Onair. I say appearance, but as it is radio, we settle for putting faces behind their respective voices and let it suffice. The event took place on May 21, 2017. Three GATG songs were showcased: Rambler, Pleased to Meet You, and White Noise, in that order. Each band member is briefly highlighted; their musical experience, influences, and how they met and formed the band. Chandra, Steve, and Jesse have all known each other for some time, sharing a history of working together at various intervals. Sam is the “newbie” of the pack. He came to them through the “interwaves”, answering an ad seeking a bassist on a social network for musicians called An audition was scheduled for the evening of December 19, 2015. All three agree that they pretty much knew by the end of the night; this was their man. Sam jokes that they actually found him lying face first in a gutter downtown clutching an empty bottle of Jack Daniels. This prompts more comic relief and soon everyone is laughing. I think it’s safe to say that a rousing good time was had by all and we as listeners enjoyed it as well.

The month of June brought Royal Fest to The Royal in Murray, Utah and with it, a veritable cornucopia of outstanding bands. The all day event on June 10, 2017 commenced outdoors at 2:00 pm with School of Rock, Zamtrip, The Wayne Hoskins Band, American Hitmen and Royal Bliss. The after party show took the fans indoors at 10:00 pm to pack the house and rock the night away with Berlin Breaks, October Rage, and the the show’s final entertainment, Ginger and the Gents; a prestigious honor, as they close a highly recognized and much loved event.

And now the big one: The annual nationally recognized motorcycle rally, Sturgis. GATG was invited to perform five nights out of the fourteen that is this epic event; August 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th of 2017. (Special shout out to Jason Wilson, who was instrumental in getting GATG on the Sturgis bill.) This affair in particular was a shared favorite amongst band members. Jesse enjoyed the comradery of his peers; musicians sharing in a common thread; the pursuit of passion and a desire to share their gifts with one another as well as their fans, those established and those newly found. Steve expressed an excitement of just simply being there; every aspect from checking out some killer bikes to the coveted privilege of playing this awesome venue to the opportunity to be on the road with his “band family” and enjoy their company and friendship. Sam was particularly “geeked” with the trailer that was provided for them and the hospitality they received from venue coordinators. He was greatly impressed by the sheer number of motorcycles and the individualistic style that each one possessed. He enjoyed his temporary “neighbors”, some travelling with their own RV’s, some staying in rented trailers, all with bikes, the range of makes and models and colors and designs as numerous as the stars that came out by night to twinkle and smile down on them. Conversations flowed and barriers were crossed, as our Sam is a “people person” and loves to make new acquaintances; no one is a stranger to this genuinely amiable guy. Chandra expressed a feeling of tremendous contentment travelling and living with her bandmates for an entire week. She felt at ease in their shared company and found being on the road together an incredibly uplifting and rewarding experience. Everyone got along well and there was much fun to be had together. She was deeply humbled by the respect and equal standing extended to them by their musical peers, as she regards these phenomenal musicians in high esteem and was grateful and honored to be seen similarly in their eyes and hearts.

On to September. The State Room concert venue in downtown Salt Lake City boasts a formidable stage; stunning in its beauty and eclectic style, overlooking a sizable dance floor and easily visible from comfortable and cushioned tiered theater seats in crimson red. Many a touring act as well as local musicians have graced this unique stage and invariably imbibed the relics of a plethora of magical moments left behind by a host of brilliant artists.

The ”Local Women Who Rock” show, featuring Talia Keys and the Love, with special guests, VadaWave (Megan Joy) and Ginger and the Gents (Chandra Marie) and sponsored by KRCL and City Weekly took place on September 9, 2017 at the aforementioned venue to a nearly sold out house. From this fan’s standpoint, it was a highly charged show, emitting invigorating energy; palpable and tangible, giving birth to the highlight of the evening as the convergence of these three fiercely gifted women taking the stage together to sing Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” brought the crowd to cheers of appreciation, not to mention exuberant dance moves and sparking an impromptu upbeat sing-a-long. Strong and capable local female talent is what was sought for and subsequently found in spades.

Of course, as their loyal fans all know by now, this band just keeps getting better and better with each passing gig, which brings us to November 22, 2017; the 16th Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Bash at Salt Lake City’s reputable venue, The Depot, featuring Royal Bliss; with special guests, October Rage, Ginger and the Gents, and Jagertown. Approximately 1,200 tickets were sold for this show and the atmosphere was positively electrifying. GATG took this prodigious stage like veteran professionals, unintimidated by its sheer enormity, filling it with heady energy and a commanding presence. All four members were utterly on point, each emanating their own brilliant aura and packing an explosive rock n roll performance into a relatively short 40 minute set. Absolutely genius.

As the holidays settle in, GATG receives two invites to play with Royal Bliss as part of The Royal Blissmas Show, which also features Nicholas Rage of the Australian band, October Rage. Friday, December 15, 2017 finds them at The Tipsy Cow Saloon in Spanish Fork, Utah. The venue is literally packed to the gills, and fans are sardined onto the dance floor; myself and a few of my friends are pressed against the steel barrier on the front row. This is an acoustic show, as they must perform on a diminutive stage and there is no room for a full-size set of drums or ample speakers. They had never played an acoustic show with all four band members prior to this one, but the set progresses and successfully closes without a hitch and Neal Middleton of Royal Bliss extends genial kudos to GATG during their own set for pulling off this major coup.

The following evening, December 16, 2017, takes the band to opposite ends of the grid as they travel north to Ogden, Utah for a continuation of The Royal Blissmas Show at Kamikazes House of Rock. The weather is cold outside, but the atmosphere inside is warm and relaxed. There is definitely more breathing room here in comparison to the previous evening’s venue, and we have more than adequate space to freely and jubilantly dance our behinds off to the stirring strains of Chandra Marie and the Boys. No acoustic show on this night; it’s fast n furious to the max; riding full-throttle. A spirited good time.

Wrapping up this profoundly incredible year of superior music from this exceptional group of musicians, we journey again to their final show of the year; The New Year’s Eve Eve Show at the Barbary Coast Saloon in Millcreek, Utah on December 30, 2017. The devoted fans attend tonight to celebrate a magnificent milestone; 51 shows on 27 stages in 365 days. That’s an average of nearly one show a week for an entire calendar year; an astonishing feat for a band that is literally in its infancy and made its stage debut on April 21, 2016 at The State Room in Salt Lake City, Utah with Berlin Breaks and A Lily Gray, a mere 20 months prior. They command the stage for a full and glorious three hours, performing almost in its entirety their collaboration of original works; some eighteen songs and counting. This is, as they say, “their party” and band and fans alike are revelling in it. As the deliciously intoxicating evening comes to a close, GATG takes their final bows of 2017 to the unmistakable sound of appreciative and adoring cheers of praise. And the rushing wave of thunderous applause rolls on….

Written by: Syl Culley Sumpter

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