Man at Work


Photo by Kevin Kelly

After 8 years of rock and roll, King Nancy may be slowing down, but their front-man shows no sign of it. David Keating speaks with Jerry Stamp.

You’d think more than 100 shows in a given year would be enough for any musician. Not so for Jerry Stamp, solo musician and front man for the local rock band King Nancy.

“In my life I’ve only cancelled three shows, ever,” he says. “One night I played I was in so much pain, but one of the rules about being a showman is that you don’t tell the audience… You just get up there and play.”

He says he’s never had a moment on stage when he wanted to be someplace else.

“People randomly contact me and say, ‘Would you like to play a gig?’ Sure. Done,’” he says.

After four years in Toronto playing the club circuit and dealing with sometimes sketchy promoters, the members of King Nancy found themselves becoming jaded, and eventually decided to once again be based out of Newfoundland in 2006.

“King Nancy is not our focal point any more,” says Stamp. The members have all moved on and are pursuing different things.

“But the band is always going to be there.”

These days though, with King Nancy’s future not scripted, and their shows far and few between, Stamp gets his gig fix from a Thursday night session he hosts at The Bull and Barrel. Asked by owner Tino Borges to put together a weekly bill, he rotates in players from any and all musical genres. Up to that point the Bull had been a watering hole with mostly acoustic covers, and was being overlooked.

“It’s on the deck with CBTGs and Roxxy’s (now The Levee.) It’s that door everybody stands in front of—people don’t even realize it’s a bar, but it’s actually the best little bar hidden away in the city.”

“It’s kind of a dream gig in a lot of ways,” he says. “I basically do it because it’s somewhere to test out new material and get ready for tours. I did a tour last fall that I probably wouldn’t have survived if I hadn’t gotten used to playing the Bull, and playing nights where you’re playing for 2 or 3 hours, weekly.”

“You get your stamina up. You learn tricks of the trade,” he says.

Stamp is the definition of the working musician, and treats it as such.

“From my perspective, being a musician should be being like any other kind of trade,” he says. “If you’re good at your music, then people are going to come back to see you play. Should you be getting paid millions of dollars to do that? I can’t say I would turn it down if they offered it to me, but at the same time, it’s a career. It’s a job.”
Did we mention that come November, Stamp is likely to have released five solo albums?

He released one last November entitled Racing Bad Weather. Make/Like/Wish/Think is in the works for June, Bloodwork is due in August, and he’s got two more up his sleeve…

“I was thinking about doing two Christmas albums for a laugh,” says Jerry. “One album of traditional holiday music, and one of ‘bummer Christmas’ music.”

Jerry is busy reaching out to other musicians in the St. John’s community and building a whole new audience as a solo performer.

“I remember the first time I played at Distortion with Adam Baxter,” he says. “He asked me to play up there and I was like, ‘All right man, I’m 30 years old. I’m playing for a bunch of kids who are 19-20 years old. These kids are into metal, punk, emo, stuff like that, and that’s not my music. I’m a singer-songwriter.”

“But I just went up there and said ‘fuck it, get up and do it,’ and I went up and played. And three songs in, the same kids who were standing at the back of the bar looking at me when I walked in like ‘who the fuck is this grandpa that just showed up?’, they were all up at the front of the stage rocking out, dancing, hootin’ and hollerin’ in front of one guy on an acoustic guitar.”

“And that’s awesome. You can’t beat that.”

Jerry Stamp plays the Bull and Barrel every Thursday. For more gigs and information, visit Jerry on his Myspace page at myspace.com/jerrystamp