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
"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
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
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
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
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,
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."