New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Kimball Not Slowing Down at 90


At 90 years old Sam Kimball is still playing his music and residents are still flocking to hear it.

Last Friday at Angelico’s on East St., residents came out, as they do on most Friday nights, to hear him and his band.

“I started at 6 or 7 years old. I played for the church,” said Kimball. “I later did a lot of recordings. I played in the doo-wap period with Nat King Cole. I played with the Harp Tones. I recorded many video recordings as well.”

Many can be found on Youtube.

Kimball plays many instruments such as the electric keyboard, but his main instrument is the guitar.

When Nat King Cole came to New Britain, he asked Kimball to come on the road with him and be his guitar player. Kimball had a family and he couldn’t leave the family.

Mostly, Kimball said he now plays just because he likes it.

“I did music therapy at the Institute of Living,” he said. “When I retired I just wanted to keep playing. So coming down here is a chance for me to rap with everybody.”

Often, Kimball does not get paid. He plays just for practice and the outlet for rehearsals draws a crowd. For many years he played at McDonald’s on West Main St.

Those in attendance had many things to say about Kimball.

“He is a great guy. I met him at McDonald’s. About 2 or 3 years ago I started singing and now they can’t shut me up,” said Dottie Dabkowski, who performed several numbers last Friday night. “A lot of kids from college come here and play with him.”

“I come and see him here on Fridays occasionally,” said Gary Robinson. “He does the senior center and I see him there too.”

“He is an amazing musician. We celebrated his birthday for two weeks,” said Ron Pucci. “When Sam was a kid he came to one of his friends house and saw a piano. He saw it. His friends parents asked if he played. Sam thought everybody played. Nobody played in the family. Sam didn’t understand that. He thought everybody played.”

Pucci said Kimball has a natural ability.

“When playing with Sam he just knows the next chord. He is never lost,” said Pucci.

Pucci told several stories about Kimball.

Back in the 1950’s Kimball played and recorded. A few years ago Kimball sat on the couch with the TV on watching an old movie. He falls asleep but wakes up to music being played. He realizes the music being played is him.

“He knows it is his recording,” said Pucci. “He played everywhere.”

“Sam has been with a lot of groups for many years,” Ed Brenkus said. “He has been all over the country. It is fun time just to get together.”

Ray DeCormier, who runs a karaoke show said Kimball is so talented he picks up any song.

“He does not need music. He feels the music,” said DeCormier. “I watched him teach. He is the best I have ever come across and I’ve been playing for 70 years.”

If you want to see Kimball perform, he plays at the Bristol Senior Center on Tuesdays, at the New Britain Senior Center on Wednesdays, Angelico’s on Friday nights, at the Elks in Hartford and across the State for special events.

Be sure to wish him a Happy 90th Birthday!