Before The Bus
Eric and Les met through mutual friends after a Grateful Dead concert in the summer of 1987. Four years later, The Eight Ball Blues Band was the first incarnation of Eric and Les performing gigs in the Toronto area.
Not long after, Eric joined the line-up for Ernest Lee’s Cotton Traffic, where Les played bass, where they were doing gigs in blues and country bars.
In late 1991 Eric and Les created Caution Jam--a project that would fuse their love of Grateful Dead music with a myriad of everyone’s favorite cover songs as well as featuring some of their own songwriting. With tie-dyes flying, and their carefree, groovy attitude, it was no wonder that this fresh, psychedelic band would need a bus to travel in.
With The Big Green Bus
Brother Chris approached the Caution Jam in January1992 during their second gig at the Black Rooster Tavern in Toronto. He said he wanted to play in a band, but didn’t play an instrument. We agreed that Brother Chris would play the bus driver. Never give Brother Chris a crazy idea. He soonfound a 32 foot army transfer bus---the 1967 Western Flyer---and the band began to cruise in it. He built a stage on the roof, put a generator in the back and the Caution Jam was fit to play anywhere.
With a band and a bus, all Caution Jam needed was somewhere to go. A year later, the band started travelling with a children’s charity on a 9-day cycling marathon through southern Ontario playing in small towns all over the region, entertaining the cyclists and their families.
The band expanded to include electric format in 1995 adding Mark Crissinger, a seasoned blues guitar player and vocalist they’d met at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto. Various drummers including Pete Lord and Colin Walker kept time until Mick Mahar settled in.
It was during 1995, saddend by the passing of Jerry Garcia, Caution Jam picked up the torch for the community of Canadian Grateful Dead fans.
1996 Caution Jam recorded their first self-titled CD, introducing "Shady Grove", the "TV Song" and 14 other original songs.
By1997, Brother Chris and the Caution Jam had spent a total of seven years ‘on the bus’ before it retired and was recycled into scrap metal.
Back in Toronto, Caution Jam recorded an acoustic trio album called Remedial Blues. This second CD featured "Red, White and Blue," "We Move On” and “The Reason”.
The following year, local-veteran musicians Bruce Brooker on drums and Bruce Griffin played keyboards joined. This configuration began regularly touring Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
With two original albums under their belt, Caution Jam was invited to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, for the inaugural Evolve Festival in 2000. This love affair for the East Coast would last almost eight years.
Jon McCann, took over the drummer’s chair in 2002.
As all things must change, Caution Jam watched the landscape of live music venues change over the years. With Bruce Griffin moving to England in 2004 and Mark Crissinger’s departure to B.C. in 2007 left Eric and Les rebuilding the process. They returned to Grossman’s featuring Jeff Heisholt (Burt Nelson band and TheTrews) on keyboards and other special guests such as Espanola Slim on harmonicas.
Playing GROSSMAN’S in Toronto a dozen times a year and continuing to play festivals and special events annually, the transcendental bus just keeps on rollin’ with the Caution Jam!