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Band feels right at home

July 14, 2012
Kylie Saari - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Driving down North North Avenue in Fairmont, one would never guess what was happening at number 1024.

Inside, a maze of cords snakes from room to room, connecting microphones to sound boards to record a CD for Adam and the Jolly Jammers, a concertina band featuring local musicians.

This week, the band is recording its fourth album, titled "Going Back To My Homeland."

Article Photos

Kylie Saari

Karen Sandhurst discusses a section of horn music with her brother, Myron Muehlbauer, and husband, Ron Sandhurst, at her home in Fairmont.

Adam Sandhurst created the band in 2000 while still attending Fairmont High School. While it may seem like a strange style of band for a teenage boy to start, the concertina is in Adam's bones.

Both his parents - Karen and Ron Sandhurst - come from families steeped in old-time music. As a teen, Karen played in her father's band "Boots and his Buddies" in New Ulm. Ron played in his uncle's band, "Vince's Concertina Band" in Fulda.

Adam, his brother Brent and sister Kimberly grew up going to shows and listening to the music.

Adam and Brent eventually ended up playing with their great-uncle Vince's band, and it was when Vince decided to retire that Adam started up the Jolly Jammers.

At first, the band consisted of the two brothers; Ron; and two uncles, Randy Sandhurst and Myron Muehlbauer. Later, Karen and a family friend, Steve Moran, took up their instruments too.

Sister Kimberly married into another old-time music family and now performs with Malek's Fishermen, a concertina band out of Iowa.

For 12 years on most weekends, the band has toured Minnesota and Iowa playing at old-time festivals, events and polka masses.

They have recorded albums every three years or so, and it was time to do another. The first two were recorded in a studio, the third in their home. Recording at home is a much better experience, they find.

"We have done both," Ron said. "It is much more relaxing [at home]."

Terry Ard drives up from Iowa to do the recordings. He has a studio back home but finds in-home recordings are easier for the artists, who play better when they can sleep in their own beds and eat their own food.

In-home recording may be more relaxing for the musicians, but it is still a lot of work. Karen spent days preparing food for the group, since she will be performing and won't have time to make anything on the spot. Furniture in her home needed to be moved to provide for the best sound dynamics.

After one full day of setup, the band records most of the album - eight waltzes, eight polkas and four foxtrots - in just one, long day.

"Last time we started at 8 a.m. and went until 11:30 p.m.," Karen said.

The next day the band listens to the recordings and makes adjustments as necessary, re-recording tracks and adding vocals to complete the music.

"There is a huge advantage to getting it all done in one day," Adam said.

For the band, it is a much different experience than playing on stage. Each instrument is in a different area of the house - the horns in the bedroom, the concertina in the den, the drums downstairs. With the microphones separated, Ard can more easily manipulate them for recording, but it keeps the musicians from communicating in their most familiar ways.

"You don't realize how much body language you have on the bandstand," Ron said.

The recordings are sold at the band's performances, but Ron sees them almost as an audio scrapbook.

"We are a small family band, and this is history for us," he said. "We aren't doing this to make money."

Adam and the Jolly Jammers represent generations of musical talent - Adam even uses his uncle's and grandfather's concertinas - and it appears the gene has been passed on again. Adam's 2-year-old daughter already is showing an interest in the music her daddy plays, saying she will play "the 'tina'" someday.



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