San Francisco Events

Sons of Champlin


Dec 7, 2012 – 8:00 PM

1350 Third Street
Napa, CA 94559 Map

  • Sons of Champlin

More Info

Doors: December 7, 2012 7:00 pm
Special Guest: Tim Hockenberry Trio $35
Age: 12 & Over (under 16 must be w/ adult)

Fully reserved seating

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The Sons of Champlin, led by Bill Champlin, former member of the American iconic band “Chicago” are always musically evolving.  The Sons started in Marin County in 1965 and have stayed true to their musical roots since then.  The music of the band is R & B and rock based with lyrical content that connects the audience with the band.   The reason for the longevity of the band playing together for all of these years become obvious within the first few notes of the first song and becomes clearer over the next couple of hours.  While the band has revolved around Bill’s singing and song writing, he distributes the spotlight throughout the performance to showcase the individual abilities of band mates.   There is now a triple threat with the addition of Tamara Champlin and Will Champlin to the band.
As front man, Hammond organist, guitarist and lead singer, Bill Champlin was a member of “Chicago” (singer of ‘Hard Habit to Break’, ‘Look Away’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Live Without Your Love’ to name a few).  Bill is also a two time Grammy winning song writer of ‘After the Love Is Gone’ by Earth, Wind and Fire and ‘Turn Your Love Around’ by George Benson.  Bill said this year of the band, “The Sons have been a band that seems to connect with its audience on so many levels, lyrically and musically, that it’s (fun) to go to and either listen or dance or just to connect with friends who you know will be there.  I’ve been involved in a lot of musical performance styles over the years but The Sons seem to affect the audience in a “we’re all together” kind of way rather than a “dig what I can do” way.  It’s not that the music is simple, it isn’t, or that it’s performed differently than other bands, it just touches people on different levels.  I’ve found myself drawn to The Sons for the “all together” feeling everyone comes away with.”

The addition of Tamara Champlin’s vocals and songwriting has brought even more depth to the band.  Her credits run deeply from singing with Rita Cooli(d)ge to movie scores to fronting her own band  to songwriting.
Will Champlin, Bill and Tamara’s son, sings, plays keyboards, bass, and guitar.  Will is an amazing talent who has already co-written a Grammy winning song, ‘Ordinary Me’ on the 2009 Gospel Album of the Year for Heather Headley.
Geoff Palmer’s expertise with vibes and keyboards brings The Sons sound all the way back to when he joined the band in 1967.  Geoff is a musician’s musican and his contribution to the band has been ever present.
Jim Preston has held the drum seat since 1972.  Jim’s playing and singing is unmatched and makes him a sought after session player.  He has played with Moby Grape, Maria Muldaur, Dr. John and Notron Buffalo.  Jim is the drummer on Sheryl Crow’s Hallmark Christmas Album featuring Booker T.

On lead guitar and vocals is Carmen Grillo who played with Tower of Power from 1988 until 1997.  Carmen owns and operates Big Surprise Music studio in Los Angeles.  Jeff Lewis is on trumpet.  Jeff has played and recorded with Kenny Loggins, Diana Krall, BB King, Huey Lewis and the News, The Temptations, Conjunto Cespedes and Pete Escovedo  to name a few.
This year, 2012, Tim Cain, the band’s original sax player, horn arranger, and singer is back with the band and singing and playing as good as ever. “It’s been around 40 years since Tim and I have played together and it feels like it’s been a week; he’s still the most melodic musician I’ve ever worked with. I’m stoked to be playing with Tim again!” commented Bill Champlin about the addition.

The Sons of Champlin boast a career that spans more than four decades with over 12 albums to their credit.  They are much more than a heritage or nostalgia act and have garnered a solid fan base that has loved and followed them for years.  Always musically growing and keeping the audience moving to the soulful, funky groove of their music The Sons are as vibrant as ever and look forward to seeing you.

Opener–  Tim Hockenberry Trio

“Semi-finalist” in the latest “America’s Got Talent”!

When Tim Hockenberry opens his mouth to sing, all talk ceases, faces turn towards the stage and hearts quicken. Out of this movie-star handsome face comes an impossibly emotional voice redolent of Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits. Singing, arranging, writing and playing; Tim expresses a voice and musical sensibility of irresistible power and harsh beauty.

Tim’s musical odyssey began in Michigan, where he sang in the choir, taught himself to play the piano and fervently played the trombone; and circuitously landed him in Northern California 17 years ago. Since arriving, he has shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray and Steve Miller among others and has established himself as one of the most compelling and remarkable voices of the 21st century.

Tim has toured for 3 years with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and currently tours with the Mickey Hart Band. He has performed at varied San Francisco venues such as The Fillmore, the Great American Music Hall, Bimbo’s 365 Club, The Napa Valley Opera House, the Rrazz Room, the Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts and the 142 Throckmorton Theater. Tim has also headlined at a multitude of festivals including the Robert Mondavi Summer Concert Series, the Clearwater Jazz Festival and the Mill Valley Arts Festival.

Tim is in the process of recording his fourth CD. His discography includes Pennies From Heaven, Mostly Dylan, Back in Your Arms, and The List. Tim also has three new songs licensed to the soundtrack of the film Suing the Devil (2011) starring Malcolm McDowell. Check out the tracks on the Music page.

Sons of Champlin: The Sons of Champlin started in 1965 in Marin County, California rising from the wreckage of the Opposite Six, a locally popular R&B band from the pre-Beatle era. "Six" members, Bill Champlin and Tim Cain, added Terry Haggerty and the first of a series of drummers and bass players, and the new band was named for the "front" man, Bill Champlin.

For a couple of years the Sons played as a five-piece band, working the college and high school dance circuit and the various clubs and bars in the Bay Area. Their playlist was mostly covers, some R&B such as Midnight Hour," some commercial pop such as "Shades of Gray."

The Sons' first record release, on Trident Records, was a single called "Sing Me A Rainbow," and it got a little local AM radio airplay. In 1967 the Sons of Champlin became a seven piece band, adding a trumpet, and more importantly, Geoff Palmer on keyboards, alto sax, and vibraphone. By this time the San Francisco scene included the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms and as the Sons joined that rock circuit, they earned a reputation as a group of R&B and jazz musicians far above the caliber of the electrified folk-rockers who formed the core of the scene.

Not only did the Sons boast a horn section, their philosophical themes, R&B and jazz tempos and arrangements were far ahead of any in rock music, and set the Sons apart from the guitar-dominated bands playing the San Francisco ballrooms.

Because nearly every other major San Francisco band signed a big record deal before the Sons did in 1968, they have sometimes been referred to as a "second wave" San Francisco band, although the Sons predate most of the fixtures in that scene. Between 1968 and 1977 the Sons of Champlin released seven albums. Despite developing a fanatic fan base in a number of regions, the national breakthrough never arrived, and in 1977 the members dispersed to other projects.

However, their fans never forgot the Sons of Champlin and continued to spread the word and the music. And after a twenty year hiatus, the Sons reunited for a series of successful reunion gigs in 1997, with two of the earliest being in April at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium where it all began. Several more concerts were held in July, followed by more in the fall.

Then on January 24, 1998, the Sons recorded their first ever "live" CD. It was released on July 28, 1998, in cooperation with Grateful Dead Records. The Sons earlier studio releases never quite captured the magic of their live shows. Quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart said of those earlier shows, "they were breathing fire... they were the most talented of all the bands."

More concerts followed whenever schedules permitted over the next few years, including some that were promoted by fans, some that were sold out, and all that were great, according to those in attendance.

In the fall of 2001, original guitarist, Terry Haggarty, left the band to pursue other musical endeavors. He also introduced the band to his replacement, Tal Morris, who is a great guitarist and blended into the Sons’ line up very well.

Early in 2002, in an extraordinary partnership with the Expression Center for New Media, located in Emeryville, CA., the Sons were back on stage and back in the recording studio. This collaboration resulted in the release of a live CD and DVD, titled "Secret", which captured the magic of the Sons at their best, not just live ... but Alive. Dave Duncan, the Sons manager, had this to say, "This is not a nostalgia act. This is the real deal."

The Sons of Champlin have continued to tour as their schedules have permitted, mostly on the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest. And there have been more personnel changes, with Tal Morris, as well as the horn section, leaving the band to pursue other musical opportunities. Carmen Grillo, formerly of Tower of Power, and a close friend of Bill Champlin, became the newest member of the Sons in 2005.

The Sons first studio album in 28 years, "Hip Li'l Dreams" was released by Dig Music on August 23, 2005 to great reviews. This was a labor of love and includes great guest artists Tom Johnston, Bobby Kimball, Will Champlin, Tamara Champlin, Steve Madaio, Billy Ward, Carmen Grillo, and Bruce Gaitsch.

In 2007, Acadia Records released a compilation of three Sons' Ariola albums, "The Sons of Champlin", "Circle Filled With Love" and "Loving Is Why". The title of this two-CD set is "The Ariola Years".

Between October of 2007 and February of 2010 the Sons were on hiatus, due to scheduling conflicts. However, in March of 2010 they toured the West Coast again, to rave reviews. Another tour was scheduled for the summer, and fans were overjoyed.

New concerts have been scheduled for this spring, with more dates to be added.

There have been additional changes in personnel for the Sons of Champlin. Bill Champlin's wife, Tamara, has been added as a featured vocalist. Bill & Tamara's son, Will, a talented singer, songwriter, and keyboardist, also joined the band. Curtis Olson is the current bassist, and Doug Rowan (sax) and Jeff Lewis (trumpet) make up the horn section.

Please keep checking back for more information.

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