Pap And The Sidemen Review

Three time hall of famer Dave 'Pappy' Hamel scores a big hit with his latest CD. This is Western Swing, and for those of you who haven't heard, it's "a fine blend of Standards with a Western Swing and Light Jazz flavour first rooted in the Texas and Oklahoma areas of the United States". Pap has a fantastic deep mellow voice and topnotch jazz guitar stylings along the line of Wes Montgomery. His story is a great one: "Dave (Pappy) Hamel was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 6 (Bob Wills' birthday) 1927 and was raised in Davidson, Saskatchewan. Dave is best remembered for his radio days at CKMO and CKNW. He had a daily afternoon show along with Bob Fortune (CKMO) and Bill Rae's Round Up (CKNW) during the late 1940's. He is a warm friendly gentleman and has had a love affair with country and light jazz dating back to this era. During his teens he also had a keen interest with aviation which, in fact, became his vocation in life as a seaplane instructor in the Lower Fraser Valley. In 1947, after his discharge from the Navy, Dave moved to beautiful British Columbia and decided to play guitar and follow a career in aviation. He purchased his first guitar (a Gibson L-7), and as it were, luck was with him in his meeting up with Ronnie Snyder, who patiently helped him through the sore finger stage of guitar. Dave and Ronnie practiced on a regular basis being heavily influenced by Red Foley, Bob Wills, Eddy Arnold, Spade Cooley and the Quintet to the Hot Club of France. This duo were well received at many small functions. During a Hank Snow tour in Vancouver, Ron and Dave were auditioned and were asked to become part of Hank's floor show during his tour of British Columbia. A great friendship blossomed with Andy Fraser and his band, who was backing Hank, and his son Jimmy. Dave enjoyed his years as vocalist with Andy Fraser, playing for dances and radio shows. During his radio days it was an exciting time in his life, meeting various stars in the industry: Mike, Mark and Jack; The Rhythm Pals, T Texas Tyler; Spade Cooley; Duke Ellington; Spike Jones; Merle Travis; D. J. Jack Cullen; Nat King Cole and Lena Horne, to mention just a few. During 1949-50 he worked for Canadian Pacific Airlines as an Apprentice Engineer, taking flying lessons and playing gigs with Andy Fraser, Pat Gerow, Taller O'Shea, John Barwis, Robin Roy Hatchard and Vic Pearce throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, leaving not too much idle time, to say the least. Dave was becoming a great rhythm guitarist and is known for his solid chuck-style rhythm. In the early 1950's Dave became rhythm guitarist in the Delmar Trio along with Ed Rumorh (organist) and the very talented Joe Murelli (accordionist) on a CBC Radio Show, produced by Mario Prizzak. The Delmar Trio backed a singing trio (Lou, Al and Johnny). Dave gigged locally until 1955 when he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 'Air Division' which took him away from B.C. to travel all of Canada, including three years in the Arctic. In his off duty hours, while he was based in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, he had a radio show called 'The Old Ranger's Cabin' which became very popular as a request show. In 1959/60, while he was in Edmonton, he was planning to leave the RCMP and pursue a civilian career in aviation. It was during this time he met Clarence Ploof and Frank Gay. Dave's talents as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist enjoyed appearances on television and local venues with Gaby Haas, Clarence Ploof and Al Curtis. It was during this time that he met Kitty Wells and Johnny and Jack. Johnny suggested that he should go to Nashville as he would do very well, but opted out as his aviation career was taking off and had family responsibilities. In 1960, returning to B.C., once again renewing his membership in the music scene, Dave joined the "Golden Garter Saloon Show" produced by the great Fran Dowie and Candy Kane, as rhythm guitarist/vocalist along with Rocky Mason. Dave became straight man to Fran and enjoyed almost thirteen weeks at the Cave Supper Club. The 1960's were a bit hectic for Dave, having joined Skyway Air Service, which was the largest fire bomber group in Canada in those days. As Base Engineer/Manager, Dave had little time for music during the summer months. During the late Fall and Winter, Dave was flying locally but pursuing his love for music with Jake Doell, Taller O'Shea and Fran Dowie. It was in the late 60's, during a show opener with the great Ray Price, that Dave made his decision to keep music as a hobby. Having observed all the super stars and how their lives were affected, aided in his decision. It just didn't seem worth the effort, what with all the prima-donnas. During the 70's playing gigs with Len Ryder and Willie Jennings was a blast! They were known as "We Three". Danny Romaniuk was Dave's mentor and has left fond memories of their affiliation. Also, the Bourbon Cowboys originated during this era, with Ian Estabrook (Bass), Len Knutson (Lead Guitar), supplemented with Bobby Hodgson (Drums) and Len Ryder (Steel Guitar), just to name a few. Cutting an LP in 1972 on the Aragon label, "Please Remember", was an immeasurable learning experience. Today Dave says "they make great Frisbees". During the 80's Dave wanted more experience, and with his love for jazz, formed a group known to many as "Pappy and the Sidemen". Some will remember him along with Susie Francis, John Barwis, Steve Johnston, Gene Ochitwa and Ray Tait at the 'Hot Jazz Club'. In the '90's, during the summer, you would have found Pappy with some of his Sidemen entertaining passengers aboard "The Native" - The Fraser River Connection. This vessel is a replica stern wheeler which caters to historic/dinner cruises along the Fraser River which departs from New Westminster Quay and travels to historic Fort Langley. August'95 brought about another recording, "The Wine Remembers" which encompasses some of Pap's favourites. He and the Sidemen hope you also will enjoy it as much as he did while recording it. Pap and his guys performed during Jamboree'96, hosted by the Clover Valley Country Music Society this summer (July 19-21, 1996) along with Ian Tyson, Lisa Brokop, Curtis Blayne and many other Canadian artists, and was inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing 'Hall of Fame' in Everett, Wa., in August '96 which made for a spectacular summer! On June 1, 1997, while performing at the B.C. Country Music Awards Ceremonies ("The Rage", Plaza of Nations, Vancouver, B.C.) he was once again blessed with the honour of being inducted into their 'Hall of Fame'. The evening was jammed packed full of great entertainment consisting of Farmer's Daughter, Rick Tippe, One Horse Blue and many others. It is at events like this Pap has developed an ever greater appreciation for the various stylings involved in the country and western music scene today. During the past year, acquiring the talents of Huntley Geisbrecht (super Bass man) and others who have made the ultimate dream come true for Pap. With John and Gene, and now Huntley he is one Happy Man, despite being now a two-time Hall of Famer. Again, during 1999, Pap was informed by the Sacramento Pioneers of Western Swing Music Society, that he had been nominated to their Hall of Fame. And in October 1999, that's just what happened... he was bestowed yet another Hall of Fame honour. Dave, or "Pappy" as he is affectionately known by his peers, has always had a tremendous respect for the musicians he has worked with. He feels that musicians of high caliber, such as Ernie Straiton, Roy Morris, George Picton, Rod Gregg, Harold Bakke, Gordon Lundy, Bob Mullett, Rex Howard, Leo Aquino, Red Lewis, Elmer Tippe, Ed Issac, Donny Thompson (Studio 56), Steve Kresta, Jimmy (Bambi) MacLaughlin, Buck Jenkins, Roy Christiansen, Sunny Sunquist, Roy Warhurst, Curly Johnson, Ronnie Hutchinson, Huntley Giesbrecht, Miles Black, Miles Hill, Gerry Adolphe, Nolin Murray et al, have a special place in his life and thanks them all. Pap is supported in his love affair with music by his lovely wife, Louise, and their son, Justin, now in Grade Six. Coming out of retirement from thirty-six years or so as Chief Seaplane Instructor for Fort Langley Aviation (formerly Skyway Air Services) he has since re-established his career with Fort Langley Air Ltd. as Chief Pilot/Instructor and is having a ball! All the while keeping his music alive and well on both sides of the border. Recently the completion of his CD: HEADS YOU WIN under Stardust International Records (Nashville) has brought about some very nice surprises. With one of Colonel Buster Doss' songs: HEADS YOU WIN (Tails I Lose) going to compilation in early December, 1999, his group, Pap and the Sidemen, have been honoured with their Country Music Award for substantial airplay. There are truly some wonderful and personable DJ's overseas who are giving them great airplay. It is with folks like this that Pap feels forever indebted to. Now at the age of 73, Pap is still at it, performing mostly at local functions and South of the Border all the while keeping Light Jazz and Western Swing alive." You can visit his site for information of ordering the CD at

Pap And The Sidemen

The song on this page is from "Heads You Win" and is called "Dreaming Once More" and was written by one of my favorite songwriters, the man behind the new western swing movement, Colonel Buster Doss. For more information on the fascinating story of Col. Buster Doss along with a review of Rooster Quantrell and a RealAudio version of my favorite Buster Doss song "Rose Of San Antone", click here:


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Dreaming Once More

"Dreaming Once More" written by Colonel Buster Doss, 1999 Colonel Buster Doss, Published Colonel Buster Doss Music Group all rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Next Stop logo courtesy of Colonel Buster Doss. Photo courtesy of Dave 'Pappy' Hamel. The Mule Dog and Mule Dog are registered trademarks of Mule Dog Records, all rights reserved. The TL logo, text, all music, photographs and art are Copyrighted 1995-2000 by Mule Dog Records all rights reserved,unauthorized duplication violates applicable laws.