La Crosse native Jamie Kember will return home with his band to perform at Oktoberfest.

The award-winning Madison band, The Big Payback, will play from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the South Side festgrounds.

After graduating from La Crosse Central High School in 2001, Kember earned a degree in trombone performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and a master’s degree in trombone performance and an instrumental teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kember, son of 2011 Oktoberfest festmaster and frau Jerry and Nan Kember, founded The Big Payback in 2009, and his band won Isthmus’ Band to Band Combat in 2011. That same year, the group released Overture, its debut album, which won three Madison Area Music Awards in 2012. One of these went to Kember for composing the title track, “Overture,” which won Jazz Song of the Year.

“I’m really excited to bring my band back home to La Crosse,” said Kember, the band’s trombone player and front man, said. “This show means a lot to me. For five years, this band has been my big payback — the place where I could write new music with my friends and share my passion for music with students and audiences all over Wisconsin. I can’t wait to show off this band full of talented musicians in front of my hometown. Plus, it’s Oktoberfest! I can’t imagine a better audience.”

A nine-piece horn band that specializes in funk, R&B, and jazz, Kember said the Big Payback is known for ambitious original tunes that challenge even the most talented instrumentalists.

Reminiscent of Jon Batiste and Stay Human of the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the sound appeals to audience members across generations, Kember said. Live performances feature a mix of original tunes and new arrangements of popular songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix.

Throughout his middle and high school years, Jamie played in a band called The First Time Around that performed frequently around the La Crosse area.


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