When Paul Kornfeind III, a Chicago native, began playing the Blues in Leesburg with a friend, he never dreamed that one day he would be playing for over 2,000 Blues fans. However, after creating a small blues band, Kornfiend has watched his dream come to fruition over the years. With the adoption of his stage name, Big Daddy Dupree, Kornfeind brought together eight other individuals to create what he describes as a “soul infused, low down and dirty Blues experience” known as Big Daddy Dupree and the Broke and Hungry Blues Band.
Big Daddy and the Broke and Hungry began formation in 2008, when Kornfeind moved to the area. Hoping to bring a Chicago style of Blues to the area, Kornfeind worked to find others who shared his love of the genre. Over the years, the band has grown to include a total of 9 members, most of which Kornfeind stated boast 25-30 years of musical experience.
Band members include Kenneth Cooke, vocals and guitar; Ronda Jordan Scarlet, vocals; Gregg ‘Thumper’ Carpenter, drums; Bernie Wilson, slide trombone; John McCorkle, keyboard, Donn May, guitar; Garry Jones, Harp; Robert Johnson, Trumpet; and of course, Big Daddy Dupree himself who brings the “thundering” bass.
“It’s such a great group of guys,” said Kornfiend. “There are no egos and no divas. Nobody wants to steal the spotlight and everyone plays well together. We share the solos and we all share in the rewards. The main drive for everyone to play is the love of the music. When you divide our pay amongst everyone it doesn’t go far. We play for the love of the music – it’s just a ton of fun. I have surrounded myself with great musicians. All my guys are really dedicated. We run a really tight ship with weekly band meetings and prearranged practices, however, we have a lot of fun with it.”
Though many would not think of Kosciusko County as a mecca for Blues fans, the band has seen its far share of venues locally and beyond. According to Kornfeind, the band has played at venues such as the Tippecanoe Lake Country Club, Milford Fest, the Syracuse Summer Festival, Spikes Beach Bar, the North Webster American Legion, the North Webster Mermaid Festival and the Oswego Bay Blues Festival, the Fort Wayne Rib Fest, the Annual Vietnam Veterans Reunion, The Olsen family cancer benefit, Blue Chip Casino and many more. Kornfiend noted that the band has generated a following within the community.
Though the band has seen its following and talent grow immensely over the years, Kornfiend stated that, at this time, the band is not pursuing a record deal. Instead, the nine Blues-loving members play for a simpler reason – the love of the music.
“It’s a terrific hobby – I never expected it to grow into this,” stated Kornfiend with a look of amazement. “We have 30,000 hits on our website, one of our youtube videos has over 20,000 views, we just started writing our own music and we’re working on our second CD. Our first CD sold over 2,000 copies in less than a year! That was very exciting. We are becoming really well-known and we definitely have a following now. We don’t know where this is going, but it’s going.”
Big Daddy Dupree and the Broke and Hungry Blues Band will be playing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, at Sunnyside Park in New Paris. The band will also be playing at Spikes Grill from 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. To learn more about the group or to schedule a performance visit the band’s website.