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"Hipster vaudeville!..." (Toronto blogger Lonely Vagabond)

"Tom Waits meets The Muppets!" Marco DiFelice - Silent Joe Music licensing

"…the schlock level was through the roof!" Tom Tytel (The Rex Hotel)

Band News & Upcoming Gigs :

- Nov 8/20 - Hi friends, it's not news that live dates are off and future gigs, un-booked. CaMp CoMbO will slog away somehow, even though singin' and horn-playing are out. Apparently I let fly too many respiratory droplets!

- Killin' time because of a postponed recording date, the self-isolating but super-duper Alan Zemaitishas recorded some instrumental organ versions of Fred's songs. Some are recent compositions, and I've posted at Camp Combo's Bandcamp page. Cheers!

- Camp Combo T-shirts! Art by my brother kNeil Spek

Say, do you book live music? Interested in a house concert or having a party? Reasonable rates!

Contact Fred: - See Past gigs here

E-mail, now better than social media! SUBSCRIBE here

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A quick CaMp CoMbO story
Oddball cover songs, original tunes and exuberant playing form a wacky hybrid of pop/swing/jazz and polka. Vintage musics for the future! - CaMp CoMbO
joins a list of bands who successfully inject some entertaining, arty fun into popular music. This includes 1940-50's nutbar Spike Jones, Mexician Esquivel's crazy 1950's arrangements, Toronto's own Shuffle Demons and USA's Squirrel Nut Zippers. Toronto live-music influencer and blogster Lonely Vagabond called us "Hipster Vaudeville!"

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Hear music! :

The best way to hear, download or stream ALL our music is: Go to our Bandcamp page. Also find it at Spotify, iTunes and other streaming services. Head for the sky and find us on the Soundcloud, if that's your hang. -

- CD - "For Cryin' Out Loud" - Art by Kari Minchin

Our latest CD (almost all originals!)is "For Cryin' Out Loud/I> " - Hear or download it at Bandcamp, or get at CD Baby

- CD - "CRaCKeRS" - Art by kNeil Spek

An 11 song disc of oddballcover tunes the band loves to play. Original songs by Fred Spek includes "Hey Bev", which now has lyrics. Fred also wrote words for Tanya Cheex Polka medley and "The Christians Are Boiling". Join our E-list and request free MP3s.

- EP - "Roughin' It" Art by kNeil Spek

This is a 5-song EP of original tunes by Fred Spek. 2 are instrumentals, Fred sings on the others! Send your email address and ask for free MP3s!

EP - "Rock Paper Scissors" Art - kNeil Spek

Our friend Brian Cram adds trumpet and Treasa Levasseur, accordion. Glen Hall of Exclaim! liked it, you can read his review in Media Mentions below.

- Beans 'n Wieners Art - kNeil Spek

Hear CaMp CoMbO versions of those old chestnuts "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Happy Days Are Here Again"

Get CDs (in Toronto) at Sonic Boom, Soundscapes on College St, Pandemonium (in The Junction...great vinyl there!).

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Media mentions:

Torontoist - Urban Planner (Nov 13/12 The Reservoir Lounge) - Every night there’s a seemingly infinite amount of forgettable indie bands playing in bars across the city. Tonight, why don’t you try something a little different? Fred Spek’s CaMp CoMbO promises a memorable evening, with their upbeat hybrid of pop, swing, jazz, and polka (lovingly known as “hipster vaudeville”). Don’t be surprised when a few TV theme songs and surf beats make their way onto the set list.


"Camp Combo play a fun and somewhat bizarre blend of pop, swing, jazz and polka music, comparable to the off-beat wackiness of Spike Jones or Esquivel. They've just finished their brand-new EP "Roughin' It"... Daniel Woodhead - blogTO


"Tom Waits meets The Muppets!", said Marco Difelice, musician and member of Silent Joe music licensing


Canada's superlative music magazine ExCLAiM! reviews our EP "Rock, Paper, Scissors" :
By Glen Hall - After a long winter hibernating you may be thinking, "I need something to raise my spirits, something to give me an emotional spring cleaning." Look no further. Fred Spek and his cheerful bunch of summer music campers have got the antidote for anybody's case of the grumpies. With good-spirited humour and exuberant playing, Rock, Paper, Scissors takes a vaudevillian view of life and love. Delivered in a declamatory style reminiscent of Frank Zappa on Freak Out, Spek belts out lyrics like, "I'll never forget my blunder/Until you're six feet under" that will bring a wry smile to even the most sullen of listeners. The four-song EP keeps its rib-tickling focus throughout, including on the raucous reading of the 1895 pop tune "And the Band Played On." Camp Combo also provide food for thought, painting a vivid picture of God and Satan playing rock, paper, scissors to determine some hapless human's fate. This is a fun disc that's appropriate for pleasant social gatherings with friends and family.(Independent release)


Mysterious, ubiquitous music scenester Lonely Vagabond had this to blog:
"Fred Spek is a modern day Al Jolson-meets-Benny Goodman, part entertainer, part bandleader. The music is a bouncy carousel seamlessly blending jazz, swing, and ragtime. Offbeat characters capturing that sparkle of a Mardi Gras procession. A throwback, spattering of minstrelism and rousing musicianship, in the heart of Torontopia. A cuddly heart. With the spirit to match."


Stanley Fefferman of The Live Music Report when Gary Topp booked us as opening act for T.O.F.U., "...and you would love to dig the opening band, Fred Spek's Neo-Swing band Camp Combo playing tunes like the theme from "Secret Agent Man", and "Animal Crackers in My Soup".


And commuter rag DOSE gave us a plug:
"Great jazz doesn't always have to come from dark and tortured souls. Take Fred Spek's Camp Combo, for example. This quartet delivers goofy jazz and novelties. Just don't let any Billie Holiday fans know. There may be a riot, with jazz hands flying." - Christine Clarke


"Thanks to Fred Spek and his gang, even vegetarians should now take "Beans and Wieners" camping...this CD is so much fun, it puts the Kamp in camp." Jaymz Bee JAZZ FM


We opened for the very hilarious Wet Spots at Revival last Valentines Day, and some blogTO blogger said:
"The opening act, Fred Spek's Camp Combo, featured all of the elements essential for a novelty act: mad-paced, frenetic music that careened wildly between lounge and jazz, the all-important banjo and a singer sporting..." To read the rest, click here my friend.


In 2008, Fred Spek did an interview and solo performance for Centennial College's The Journal, a student magazine style cable show. His bit is the last piece, so scroll to the end once it downloads!


Here's a video of the song Takes Two to Tango, from a gig at Mitzi's Sister on Toronto's Queen Street W.


Jaymz Bee took his Jazz Safari to a gig at Parkdale's (now defunct) Mitzi's Sister, and had this to say:
"...we went to Mitzi's Sister to enjoy Camp Combo. It was quirky music that featured raspy sax solos and some daring vocals from Fred Spek. One Safari-ite observed; "These guys are much better musicians than they are letting on!" while another said "It's nice to see these young boys having so much fun, they're really odd!" It was a memorable and wacky way to end our first Jazz Safari of the season. Jaymz also hosts "Jazz In The City" on Toronto's JazzFM - Fridays 9pm-12

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Nichol - Great Bob Scott! - Fred -

Band Members:

Band leader Fred Spek plays tenor sax and sings. Formerly with The Mood Swingers, ska band Inner City Fanatics, art rockers Braino, ska-funk Dub Enforcement Agency, art-damaged Blank Crowd, Jason Clark's jazz Bug Nite and others. He's shared the stage with the likes of Mary Margaret O'Hara (she blew bubbles while he crooned the tune "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"), performs in Richard Underhill's street band The Kensington Horns. He's done gigs with Michael Louis Johnson's free blowing party band Rambuctious and is a regular guest with Toby Hughes & The New Orleans Connection Jazz All-Stars (Sundays at Grossman's). He's sat-in with bluesman Jake Chisholm, Mad Bastard Kevin Quain, swing-punk Big Rude Jake and more. He misses singing in the now defunct Bloor St. Gospel Choir and currently plays tenor sax with the Swansea Community Band. For fun & profit, he enjoys busking on the streets and subways of Toronto.
His list of original tunes continues to grow, and Fred acknowledges support from the Ontario Arts Council, who awarded him a songwriters grant in 2011.

Nichol S. Robertson was born and raised. He plays banjo, guitar and other people's feelings. Currently Nichol runs his own bands The Honkytonk Boogaloo Boys, The Layrite Boys duo, and also enjoys selling his soul to such musical acts as Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People, with Ted Hawkins in Thelonious Hank, Victor Bateman's Another Country, Devin Cuddy, Whitney Smith, Ian Goodhue's rockin' soul revue The Mercenaries, Stones cover band Dead Flowers, CCR cover band Locomotion and is in demand by many others. In the future, he hopes to sell his soul to much more lucrative acts (i.e. Metallica, Lawrence Welk or the people who do the music for Saturday morning Christian channel shows).

Alan Zemaitis sits in the organist chair and plays the hell out of it! Alan is also with Chloe Watkinson's Park Eddy and is in demand by many others. He has his own groovin' trio too!

Tim Shia, is the unusual, usual man on the drum set, though we've done dates with Great Bob Scott, Mike "Rosie" Rosenthal and then some! See the long list below.

Distinguished organists we've had our way with include long timers Ben Mueller-Heaslip and Waylen Miki, guests Joel Visentin, Nathaniel Edgar, Jeff McLeod, Ryan Driver, Tania Gill, Kelsey McNulty, Dafydd Hughes, Meher Steinberg, Marcel Aucoin, Peter Hill, Jason Kenemy, Cindy Fairbank, and accordionist Fabrice Sicco.

Many fine and fun bass players with the band include groovy Rachel Melas who's done lotsa gigs, as had Micheal "Blitz" Kaler, JUNO winner Brandi Disterheft, living legend Victor Bateman, Wes Neal, Mike Herring, Brian Kobayakawa, Jon Meyer, Chris Banks, Brendan Davis and one special night Ka-Cheong Liu blew bass lines on his tuba!

Excellent drummers we've been lucky to work with are Mike Rosenthal, who's done lots of gigs and great recordings, Sly Juhas, jazz cat Nick Fraser, GUH's Blake Howard, Daniel Barnes, Dave Clark, Heavyweights Brass Band's Lowell Whitty, Conny Nowe, Daniel Stadnicki, Joe Poole, and Jake Oelrichs.

Great guitarists such as Eric St. Larent, Tom Juhas, Rizaldo Padilla, Margaret Stowe, Jason Crawford have also played with the band. Hot horns include trumpet blower Brian Cram, trombonists Scott Good and Steve Donald, alto saxist Toby Hughes as well as bari saxist Ben Burke who have all blown their horns with us, and whatta blast it was!

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We'll play nightclub dates, house parties, swing dances, weddings in a variety of combos. We have a large repertoire with many jazz standards.

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