The band is comprised of drummer and vocalist, Ken who has lived in the Algarve for 20 years, their guitar player and vocalist Ian who has lived here for seven years and vocalist Carol who has lived here for five years as well as vocalist Susie who has lived here for two years.

Meet Chilli Jam

The band was formed around three years ago, with it initially being Ian, Carol and Helen on the ukulele. Ian explained it almost happened by accident with him going to perform at Carol’s party with someone else. He ended up going by himself and invited Carol to come and sing a few songs with him and Helen was also at the party and joined in with her ukulele. “We had such a good time, we agreed to meet again in the week and that was how the band started.” Adding, “I later met Susie, who joined us and I already knew Ken and he joined us a couple of times but now he is a permanent member although he is in two rock bands.” Although Helen later left the band, she left something special, the bands name, in which Carol told me “We have Helen to thank for Chilli Jam and I only found out recently that it came from our names Carol, Helen and Ian and that Chilli Jam just came to her and we just really liked it so it stuck.”

Chilli Jam Twist

Chilli Jam offer an exhaustive list of ballads as well as reggae from the 60s to the 2000s. Some of their repertoire includes Queen, The Kinks, Amy Winehouse, Oasis, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Stereophonics, George Ezra and newly added Prince and Fleetwood Mac. “We spend a lot of time researching various artists, looking for that one song that people forgot about but enjoy, we don’t want to have the same set list as other bands so we just pick songs that people will be just as impressed by.”

Carol then explained “We all take turns with singing but I do about 70 percent of it, it’s really nice having everyone do some songs with Susie harmonising and singing with me most of the time.” Harmonies are a major feature of the band which is how they get away with so few instruments. “I do everything with an acoustic guitar and for big venues Ken brings a drum kit and for smaller venues, a drum block but we get away with it because the vocal harmonies enhance our performance.”

They also explained that they play everything as Chilli Jam, so they add their own ‘twist’ to the songs with Ian affirming that “Carol sings everything in her own voice and does not impersonate the singer.” Adding, “We do Kiss by Prince with just a drum box and an acoustic guitar, it is one of our most popular songs, everyone is up and dancing and it doesn’t sound like the type of song you would do with a drum box and acoustic guitar but we do it.”

Connection to Music

Ken has been passionate about music since childhood, with him telling me that “it’s those rulers you nick from school and you’d hit tin pots and pans and find you could do songs that way and then you’d progress from that and get influenced by everybody else and I stuck at it and got a passion for it and that’s it, jokingly pointing out you never make any money but that’s not the point!”.

Similar to Ken, Ian’s interest came from school, where he told me “I was in a brass band and played the trumpet and then I got a guitar at 17, but by the time I was 18 it had gone in the bin as it was too difficult and I went onto the bass guitar which I found much easier. I just like music, everything from classic to rock and I have always been very keen on the Beatles and Paul Weller.”

Susie is from a musical household, she told me “My mum was very musical, so we used to sing songs around the piano and I also did a lot of music at school and learnt the piano and just always loved singing.” I decided to get back into music when I moved to Portugal and it is a good anchor to have, I love the songs we are doing and Id say we are very melodic band and Carol has a really nice voice to harmonise with. With Carol quickly adding that “Sometimes, when we harmonise, I get goosebumps.”

Carol used to sing as a child all the time and “I never realised until my mother had dementia that my mum could sing really well, she never sang and when she was in care home, they said she had an amazing voice but she was very shy and unfortunately, she passed that shyness onto me so I wouldn’t sing in front of people at first but the band has given me confidence. I am absolutely blown away that I am doing this now.”

Algarve Music Scene

I loved Susie’s optimism for a brighter Algarve music scene, “I think it can be developed even more especially for a big beach culture like there isn’t much reggae or music you associate with beach culture so it could really take itself to another level if it had this especially with the amazing outside venues.” Finally, if you would like to enjoy live music from Chilli Jam their next gig will be on the 30th July at 6pm at Restaurante do Eric in Moncarapacho. To book a table please call 289 018 166.

Chilli Jam are fully equipped with their own equipment and are bookable for all kinds of events including restaurants, hotels, private parties and weddings where they are happy to cater to requests all over the Algarve. For more information and for bookings please email or alternatively, call +351 917 728 119. To keep up to date with their upcoming gigs please visit @chillijamband on Facebook.