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'Hambone' spreads his love of good music via radio
By Dann Gire | Daily Herald Staff

By day, Scott Hammer works as a Chicago attorney, but come Thursday nights, he plays jazz and the blues as the host of WDCB's "Hambone's Blues Party" at the College of DuPage.

 

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Published: 6/4/2009 12:01 AM

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By day, attorney Scott Hammer defends psychiatrists in malpractice suits. It's his specialty.

By night, Thursdays to be specific, Hammer drives from his Long Grove home to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn and effects a magical transformation.

From 10 p.m. to midnight, Hammer jettisons his suit and becomes the coolest cat on the planet without a soul patch. As the host of "Hambone's Blues Party," Hammer (aka "Hambone") plays the best mix of blues, jazz and R&B to be found on the airwaves of Chicago radio, WDCB 90.9-FM.

Who is this kid stuck in a 51-year-old attorney's body? I sat down with him before his show to find out.

Q. What's the buzz you get doing this show?

A. I get two buzzes. One, I started "Hambone's Blues Party" because I was dissatisfied with the music that was on the air in Chicago. There wasn't enough good music on the radio. I used to complain about it. My wife said, "Then do something about it." I took the bull by the horns. Now I don't complain. I love spreading my love of music. I play classic soul music that no one else plays in Chicago. I give bios about the musician. I try to educate the public. That's my first buzz.

The second buzz is that I always wanted to bring live bands on the show. I've had over 200 bands on this show. Live. We don't use a soundtrack. We just put the music up and live the way it used to be done.

Q. What's the appeal of jazz and blues?

A. Jazz and blues come from the roots of the same tree. I think they both go to the meaning of life and the meaning of soul. Anyone who hears true jazz or true blues gets kind of a gut feeling about it. It brings smiles to faces. I call it "instant Xanax" for people who have anxiety. It gives you a nice feeling and it's worldwide. It's almost like a universal language.

Q. How did you discover this music?

A. When I was in high school, my dad took me to Las Vegas. I saw one of those lounge acts. Twin brothers. They did a lounge act of classic R&B, blues and jazz. It knocked me out! It was entertaining. It was exciting. I already knew rock 'n' roll and blues rock 'n' roll, but this was the classic R&B 1950s kind of stuff. Ever since then, I've always been into jazz and blues. I'm more of a blues guy than a jazz guy. There are only two types of music: good and bad.

Q. On your MySpace page, you list three movies as your favorites. The first two are "Raging Bull" and "The Thin Red Line." They do possess jazzlike qualities.

A. The pacing is probably what I like. I love Scorsese. When I see "Red Line" on TV, I still watch the whole thing. It's a piece of art.

Q. But your third film, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"? Sorry, I can't make any musical connection.

A. That movie tickles my funny bone. I've been accused of being a goofy guy.

Q. What about the greatest jazz movie of all time?

A. I like "Round Midnight." That's the classic from my point of view.

Q. Your mantra is that you like music with "rhythm, jump and soul." How do you know when a piece of music has rhythm, jump and soul?

A. It's like that Supreme Court justice said. I know it when I see it.