Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

600 North


Mark Hunter

Whatzup Features Writer

Published March 29, 2007

Heads Up! This article is 15 years old.

The band 600 North didn’t always go by that name.

In a moment of clarity, while practicing at the Huntington home of drummer

Blaine Sprinkle a number of years ago, the decision appeared to them like a

road sign in the fog – a road sign near Sprinkle’s house, the one that reads

600 N. “We always had good sound out there,”

Sprinkle said. “We could play loud and late. No neighbors.”

But like their name, their practice venue changed

a couple of years ago to 1301 Lafayette St. in Fort Wayne, which happens to be

guitar player and fine art photographer Tim Brumbeloe’s studio. The notion of

changing their name to 1301 Lafayette, came up in passing, of course, but then

they’d have to add one more giant red X to their knot of Anvil touring cases, yet

another distancing from their original name, The Jury.

Anyone who was alive and tracking the Fort Wayne

music scene 16 years ago already knows The Jury held sway for the early part of

the 1990s. As the unofficial house band of Columbia Street West (an appellative

that passes from band to band as time goes by) and also, by association, a

cover band, The Jury effectively, if at times confusingly, decided what music

to cover.

“We were doing The Pixies and The Cure when

there weren’t a lot of other bands doing that,” said guitarist and lead

vocalist Curtis Ostermeyer. (A later show at CSW found the band playing about

half of something called OK Computer from something called Radiohead, a choice that, at the

time, left more than a few in the audience scratching their heads.)

At their peak The Jury were playing nearly every

weekend, in and out of town, driving to gigs in a van and loving every minute

of it. By dint of their repertoire they were popular choices for fraternity

parties at various colleges and universities, though their grasp of the Greek

alphabet lacked at times. “We showed up at a frat at Purdue one time all

ready to play. ‘Hey guys, we’re here, we’re the band,’ and a little while later

the real band, the band they had hired, showed up. We were at the wrong

frat,” Sprinkle said. Another time, apparently right after Sprinkle

joined, he had to learn an entire night’s worth of songs on the way to a gig in

Indy.

After four years together (that’s 12 years ago

for those of you keeping score but unable to remove your socks) the newest member

of The Jury, bassist Eric Record, joined up. “Like most bands, we’ve had

one or two problem children in the band,” Sprinkle said.

The number of problem children that passed

through the band numbered more than one or two. Brumbeloe, who began his

collaboration with Ostermeyer while both attended South Side High School, said

he can’t even remember the names of the drummers and bass players who hung with

The Jury during the first few years. “There was a slew of them,”

Brumbeloe said. Ostermeyer took a year or two hiatus a few years back, but

otherwise he and Brumbeloe have been playing music together since the mid-80s.

Brumbeloe, an autodidact who taught himself guitar and photography, admits that

his take on the first songs he learned to play, mostly REM tunes, was something

less than, well, accurate. “I’d figure out a song and then Curtis would

show me how it was really supposed to be played. He’s a really good guitar

player. Blaine and Eric are really good. Playing with them makes it easier for

me.”

Not much has changed. Brumbeloe still relies on

Ostermeyer for help in remembering parts of some of the 80-plus songs they

cover, and Ostermeyer still nails his parts, both on guitar and vocally. Add

Record and Sprinkle to the mix and 600 North become a tight, versatile band. On

their cover of the Stones’ “Bitch,” for instance, Brumbeloe plays

Keith Richards’ lead with Keef-like snarl, Ostermeyer pulls double duty on the

two Micks (Jagger, of course, is inimitable, but Ostermeyer does a fine job

with Taylor’s rhythm work) and Record and Sprinkle more than do justice to

Wyman and Watts. Their syncopation and intonation are right on. It helps that

600 North frequently take on the Stones during events such as the Down the Line

show at the Embassy late last month. It also helps that, obviously, these guys

really enjoy playing together. “My two loves are art and music,”

Brumbeloe told me. “Thanks to these guys I’ve got the music taken care

of.”

    As The Jury the usual course was followed: Play

successfully for a few years, then watch as you and your audience age, marry,

have children, get careers, divorce and spend less time haunting the bars.

Brumbeloe: “We sort of lost what was going

on out there.”

Sprinkle: “People who liked us got older

with us.”

As 600 North, things are loosening up a bit.

Though they play out only once or twice a month, they practice every week.

“We could play out a lot more,”

Sprinkle said, “if we wanted to.” Still, they are playing out more

frequently. On a recent Wednesday I dropped by a practice, and they were

running through songs for a show the next night at Mid City Grill, a show that

fell into their lap when another band cancelled. Their song selection is

wide-ranging, if a bit eclectic at times – Weezer, The Beatles, The Rolling

Stones, Tom Petty, a kick-ass version of Devo’s”Uncontrollable

Urge,” Radiohead, Coldplay, The Who, Wilco, more Wilco, The Strokes, Elvis

Costello, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, The Doors, Jane’s Addiction,

etc.

The current state of music in Fort Wayne inspires

600 North.”There are a lot of really good bands out there right

now,” Brumbeloe said. “That gets me fired up to play.”

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