Dressed in a bright pink blouse and black pants, with the brim of a
fedora skirting the top of her eyebrows, Kathryn Grimm grasped the
guitar and delivered an inspiring version of “Stand By Me.”
Her guitar licks are explosive and her singing divine on the
intimate stage tucked inside the comfy digs of The Big Fish, a bar
and grill on San Fernando Boulevard in Glendale.
The homey decor is more like a hunting lodge than a bar with fish
in varying sizes gracing the walls.
She and her band played a few songs before she started calling up
musicians from the audience to join them on stage. Grimm hosts the
Pro Blues Jam at the Big Fish on the third Sunday of each month, to
give professionals and amateurs a chance to shine.
Some of the professionals who have dropped by over the more than
two years the jam has been going are guitarist Ronnie James Dio of
Deep Purple, Tracy G. of Dio, and bassist Leon Randolph of Christian
Death and Chaka Kahn, who is also Grimm’s fiance.
Even Peter Tork of the Monkees stopped by one evening, playing
keyboard, guitar and bass, Grimm said.
“He has a blues band called Shoe Suede Blues,” she said. “He’s a
huge blues lover.”
Grimm was backed Sunday by Bill Orr of Burbank on bass guitar and
Frank Salemmo of Northridge on drums.
“She’s a great person to work with,” Orr said of Grimm. “We always
seem to attract a lot of musicians and we have fun doing it.”
Orr, who doubles as a singer, has been a part of Grimm’s band for
three years. A mortgage lender by day, he’s played music for more
than 15 years.
“This is an avocation opposed to a vocation, it’s something I do
for fun instead of something I do for a living,” he said.
It’s always a surprise just who’s going to show, Orr said.
“One night, we had a guy stop by who played two saxophones at
once,” he said. “I was outside when the guy started to play, and I
said to myself ‘what is that?’”
One of Sunday’s guest musicians was Michael Snyder, who took the
stage to play the spoons.
“I’ve got multiple pairs,” the Sylmar resident said, pulling out
the selection. “They have to be sterling silver because that’s what
gives them the deep richness in tone.”
On stage with Snyder was Louie Lista of Hollywood playing the
It was his first night at the jam and he came prepared. He had a
case filled with 16 harmonicas.
A professional musician, Lista has performed with Willie Nelson.
“I’ve been playing American roots music in different styles about
half a century and Kathryn is becoming part of that,” he said.
Guitarist Jeff Jensen of Canyon Country stays busy playing with
his own blues band.
But he tries to frequent as many jams like this as he can to add a
little variety to his schedule, he said.
“I play a lot with my band and I come out to jams because it keeps
the soul and spirit in my playing so music doesn’t become a 9 to 5
job,” he said.
The jam rounds out the offerings of the Big Fish, said Michele La
Gloire, who owns the establishment with her brother, J.P. La Gloire
and her sister, Renee La Gloire.
The night spot offers Karaoke on Thursday and Saturday nights and
live bands on Friday nights, plus dart and pool leagues.
“Truly in my heart, I think having Kathryn here once a month is
the best thing going in this bar because there’s more creativity
involved,” she said.
Grimm has been performing for 25 years, backing such names as Bo
Diddley, Elvis Costello, Michael Bolton and the Screamin’ Sirens.
In December, she released a 10-song CD, “Grimm Again” (Real Music
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “This is what I
live and breathe.”
WHAT: Guitarist/vocalist Kathryn Grimm’s Pro Blues jam.
WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. every third Sunday of the month.
WHERE: The Big Fish, 5230 San Fernando Blvd., Glendale.
CONTACT: (818) 244-6442.
NEXT JAM: Aug. 21. Musicians wishing to perform e-mail her at