In 1995, Dan Smith (a.k.a. “Lt. Dan”) tried to figure out a way to draw attention to himself while volunteering at Camp Hobé as a nurse. After various antics, he decided the best way was to be as loud as possible.
A drummer since the age of 12 (some will argue he hasn’t changed much since then), Dan always enjoyed high-volume music and wanted to recapture the glory of his youth playing in a band. His brother, Tim Smith, a guitarist/singer and long-time band mate who plays a pharmacist in real life, was looking for a venue in which to play—one that didn’t include chicken wire, bouncers, or people constantly saying “y’all.” Tim and Dan got together and looked for other band members. They found bassist and fellow pharmacist Brad Dahl. The trio planned a concert for the kids of Camp Hobé the following year, and Hobé Jam was born.
On July 25, 1996, the trio took the stage under the name Kytril and played a set made up of songs the band really liked, but that most of the kids had never heard. Despite that, and numerous technical difficulties which included blowing the horns out of the rental PA and every circuit breaker in the camp lodge, the kids enjoy themselves. At one point, line dancing broke out to a song geared more toward head banging...perhaps this hadn’t been such a good idea after all...But when all was said and done, the first concert was a bigger success with the kids than anyone, especially the band, could have dreamed. The only thing to do from that point was to plan for the next year.
Every year since, these three guys, with the help of various “guest artists,” have taken the stage under names such as Blithering Idiots, Toxic Mega Colon, and Hanta Virus. Their musical selections have changed to reflect what the kids want to hear and, despite their “advancing years,” these guys ROCK!
With the addition of vocalist David Ohlson, guitarist Jeremy Wolfe, and keyboardist Rich Baron, the fifth anniversary of Hobé Jam (HJ2K) in the spring of 2000 was the biggest and best show ever. With friends on hand from Digital Storybook to film and record the event, the kids of Camp Hobé proved, once again, that they’ll dance and applaud to just about anything...
Hobé Jam 2001 brought a more permanent name: Watson 349. That same year, Hobéjam Productions was born. Offering pro-sound, lighting, and DJ/dance services, some say this is yet another shallow ploy to allow Dan to draw more attention to himself. Hobé Jam 2002 saw Watson 349 finalize their line up and premier a 3000-watt sound system from Hobéjam Productions. Steve Witt, talented guitarist and singer, joined Dan, Tim, Brad, and Jeremy as Tim took over the lead vocals. The mountains outside Tooele once again echoed with songs by Creed, Lifehouse, SR-71, The Calling, and others.
The band maintains a rigorous rehearsal schedule, getting together at least four times a year to watch the video of the previous year’s performance and critique each others’ wardrobes. They’ve even considered playing somewhere other than camp and actually get paid for it. Thankfully, they all have day jobs to fall back on.
So there you have it, the history of Hobé Jam. While giving a bunch of would-be rock stars a captive audience that can’t demand a refund, it has become a much-anticipated event during the Teen Session of Camp Hobé each year. A special thanks to everyone who puts time and effort into this production.