By Samantha Stanich
Dale’s Jukebox gives listeners exactly what its name describes: select a hit from almost every decade, and odds are the band can play it for you.
Dale Amboise and his son, Dale Jr., teamed up with Roberta Clemens to bring the region greatest hits from a range of years. They recently went On the Record to share how they got together and what’s next.
Q: How did you get involved in music?
Dale Amboise: I took saxophone lessons as a kid and learned to play the guitar in high school. I performed in local bands with my sax and guitar for many years.
Roberta Clemens: I sang in choral groups in college, but outside of the occasional karaoke, I did not sing again until Dale’s Jukebox.
Dale Amboise Jr.: Like my dad, I started out playing the sax but was drawn to the bass guitar as I watched my grandfather, also (named) Dale Amboise, play it in many local bands for years.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed?
DA: I was performing with my sax as early as 13 years old. I learned to play the guitar in high school and first played it in public at the Nuangola Bazaar. I played “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot.
RC: We were sitting at a diner in Mountain Top listening to friends at a table across from us talk about their class reunion and how they could not afford entertainment. Our band had practiced for about a year, and we were on the verge of playing out but hadn’t taken the plunge. I suggested to the group that we offer our band as entertainment for the reunion and explained that this arrangement would benefit us both. And they said yes. To this day, they do not know it was our first gig.
DA Jr.: I played at Barnes & Noble in a duo in high school.
Q: How did you come up with your name?
RC: We play songs from the ’50s through the ’90s. Even though we consider our ’90s music the newer stuff, it is still 20 years old. Since we play songs from past decades, we thought it would be fun to stick with a jukebox theme.
DA: Since my son and I share the same name and I knew legally it was a good idea to give yourself a unique name, we decided to call it Dale’s Jukebox. We asked Roberta to change her name and take one for the team, but she wouldn’t agree.
Q: How did you guys meet?
DA: Roberta and I were dating. One Sunday, as we were looking at all the programs on her new iPad, we noticed one where you could simulate playing a guitar. We fooled around with it a bit, then I decided to bring out my acoustic guitar. We sang “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by Carole King and thought what fun it might be to start a band. When my son showed interest in playing bass with us, we decided to make a go of it.
Q: How do you choose the songs you cover?
DA: I’ve done a little bit of writing but mostly enjoy recreating our favorite songs into our own style. Since we are a small band with only two instruments, we are careful to choose songs that fit our instruments and the type of songs we like to sing. We are a product of the ’70s; that says a lot.
RC: All except Dale’s son, who we drive crazy with this old music.
DA Jr.: I always enjoyed oldies and classic rock, because that is what I grew up … listening to with my dad.
Q: How have you changed as a musician?
DA: I spent years playing sax in local bands, took a 25-year hiatus and got back into playing guitar with Dale’s Jukebox. The music I enjoy playing is more suited for a guitar, so I gave up the sax and concentrated on honing my skills on guitar.
DA Jr.: Like my dad, I also took a break from music for several years. When we formed the band, I feel I improved as a musician due to my own maturity and dedication.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories?
DA: When I was 13 years old (and) playing sax in my father’s band, a guy in the audience came up to me with a know-it-all attitude and asked me to play “Yakkety Sax” by Boots Randolph. The guy figured I was not able to play it, especially since the sax was almost bigger than me. To his surprise, I played the song, and he came up afterwards, now with a humbled attitude, and gave me a $5 tip.
RC: The first time I sang “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, we were playing at Elixir at Mohegan Sun casino. I hit all the notes and got all kinds of “crazy” applause.
DA Jr.: My dad, a friend and I were playing on a float in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was raining that day, and water got in my friend’s amp. Smoke started pouring out of the amp, and people in the crowd started to cheer. They thought it was part of the act.
Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
DA: There seems to be so many more bands out there than years ago and so many talented musicians. Back when I started playing, there was raw talent, bands grew in garages, and nobody took lessons. These days, besides there being so much electronic and computer influences, many musicians are professionally trained.
Q: Who has influenced you over the years?
RC: Billy Joel and the Beatles inspire the way I sing. I love the combination of their lyrics and music but especially love the way they sync up the harmonies.
DA: I love all the music from the ’60s, pure talent and basic instruments.
DA Jr.: I really enjoy all types of music, classic rock when I was younger, and I also got into country music as I got older.
Q: What is the biggest challenge?
RC: It is sometimes hard to find places to play where we fit musically.
DA Jr.: Depending on the venue, it is hard to fit our equipment because we are somewhere between a duo and a full band.
Q: What are your future goals for the band?
DA: Just continue to have fun and share our experience with an ever-growing following.
DA Jr.: I hope to be able to continue to improve as a musician and enjoy playing.
Based out of: Mountain Top and Dunmore
Members: Dale Amboise, lead guitar/vocals; Dale Amboise Jr., bass guitar/vocals; and Roberta Clemens, lead vocals/percussion
Upcoming: Saturday, Oct. 14, 279 Bar & Grill, 279 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre