Jam session reels in talent

Joyce Rudolph

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