Loni Gamble and Sound Cheque reunite for tour

Loni Gamble has reunited his band Sound Cheque after a 10-year hiatus. The group has been practicing for six months and will make their first public re-appearance on March 16 in 33 East’s event room.

“This is not a sit-down show,” Gamble said. “We want people to dance.”

Gamble is the founder and executive director of local non-profit organization CAPPA (the Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Action) and recipient of myriad awards ranging from the PAHRA’s 2005 Pennsylvania Person of the Year Award, to the NAACP’s Outstanding Vision, Leadership and Innovation Award. The organization “creates environments where youth can grow and develop into productive and caring citizens,” as it says on the official CAPPA website.

In May of 2010, Governor Edward Rendell took note of Gamble’s influence locally, and appointed him to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs – a position with statewide reach.

“That was a huge honor,” Gamble said, “knowing that he [the Governor] was paying attention to what we were doing here.”

Sound Cheque last performed for a special one-off benefit concert called the CAPPA Showcase in 2010, which benefited the non-profit. “I began to miss it,” Gamble said. “Music used to be my profession and my livelihood; but it has always been a passion. In talking with the other members, it became clear that we all were ready to have some fun; and that’s what it’s all about.”

He said the addition of new members happened very organically, and that “as time passes you just find people who want to play music for all the same reasons you do. It’s fun and it’s therapeutic for all of us.”

It has been CAPPA that has taken up most of Gamble’s time over the past decade, and for good reason; the organization has continued to grow, helping more children and more families each year. CAPPA is currently in the final stages of a merger with fellow local non-profit organization STEP Inc.

“The more you pool your resources, the greater the number of people you can help,” Gamble said. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Gamble will certainly be pooling his resources for the Sound Cheque show on Saturday, combining original members, new members and longtime friends who will be traveling to Williamsport just to join in the concert. He will sing and play guitar, and be accompanied by his wife and original member of Sound Cheque, Beatrice Gamble who will provide vocals and percussion. The Gambles will be joined by another original Sound Cheque member: vocalist and percussionist Laverne Cohen. New members to the group include vocalist and keyboardist Kato Clark, drummer Tony Humphries, percussionist Rick Jones and bassist Stacey McGee. Sitting in for Saturday’s performance will be trumpeter Henri McMillian, saxophonist Michael Flower and harmonica player, and Penn College of Technology professor, Joseph LaBlant. McGee, McMillian and Flower all hail from Philadelphia and have worked with artists like The Stylistics (of whom Gamble was a member), Ojays, Kool & the Gang and John Legend.

Loni Gamble and Sound Cheque have always been known for playing Motown, dance music and a selection of oldies with a heavy focus on the music of the ’60s and ’70s. Gamble felt a desire in the community for just that type of music, “music that people can dance to,” he said.

For him, however, it’s not as much about filling a niche as it is celebrating a life-long passion.

“For us, it’s all about enjoying the music,” he said. “We’re out to have fun.”

Saturday’s show will undoubtedly be fun, but it also will be for a good cause; a portion of all proceeds will benefit the CAPPA Academic Enrichment Program.

Loni Gamble and Sound Cheque will be performing at 33 East (33 E. Fourth St.) at 9 p.m. March 16. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the event will be held in the second floor event room to accommodate dancing. There will be a cash bar.

Tickets may be bought for $20 either at 33 East or via credit card at Eagle Rock Winery, 414 W. Fourth St. 33 East can be found online at www.33east.com and reached at 322-1900. The Eagle Rock Winery can be found online at www.eaglerockwinery.com and reached at 567-7715.

You can find Loni Gamble and Sound Cheque on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/lonigsoundcheque. To learn more about CAPPA, visit them online at www.cappaproject.org or call 326-7700. The Sun-Gazette’s article documenting Loni Gamble’s appointment to the Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs is archived on our site, www.sungazette.com.