Your cover story about the Famous Jazz Series in Cambria (“Jazz echoes through the Cambria Pines,” July 31, 2008) was missing one very critical part—the man who started it all, Norm Hamlet.
Norm and his wife Maggie brought the Hamlet to the Central Coast, starting in Harmony and then by remodeling an old nursery and turning that into today’s Hamlet at Moonstone Gardens. Norm had a great love of jazz music, so, with Maggie’s blessing, he turned the upstairs, above the restaurant into a venue for music, good food, and great wine (not to mention the incredible ocean view).
I was fortunate enough to work for Norm and spent many an evening listening to different musicians who would drop in and play on Norm’s grand piano. One of those players was Charlie Shoemake. Charlie had retired to the Central Coast and found that, although a beautiful place to live, the music scene was lacking. Norm and Charlie had the answer: Host a jazz concert at the Hamlet once a month and hire Charlie’s friends in the business, giving them the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Central Coast and get some work on their way to or from Los Angeles or San Francisco. Both Norm and the community got to share in some great music.
Sadly, after Norm lost his beloved Maggie in 1996 he, no longer wanted to be a part of the restaurant and nightclub that they had spent so many years building together. He retired and his friend and business partner, Roy Ford, continued with the Hamlet and the Jazz Series.
So the next time you go to the Famous Jazz Series, located at the Hamlet in Cambria, remember the man who started it all, Norm Hamlet, and his love of jazz, great conversation, and above all, great friends. Here’s to you Normmie! (Norm Hamlet passed away last year.)