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Originally Published Janury 26, 2001
Talkin’ With Thackery, Part 1
It sure was a good time chattin’ with Jimmy Thackery. The singer/guitarist currently has a hot new album out called Sinner Street. I had a chance to ask Jimmy a few questions recently and he was more than willing to open up about the music he loves the best. The first installment of his entertaining insights make up this week’s BluesWax.
T-Bone: As a guitarist myself and someone who grew up around the same time as you did, I’m curious as to what your first recollections of music are and what had an early impact on you.
Jimmy Thackery: Well, my dad used to put me up on his workbench and play classical music while he would fiddle around with things down in the basement and he put on a recording by Chopin. And my usual thing would be to kind of rock back and forth and try to sing along with it but, for some reason, it got to a very emotional part of the piece and I burst into tears. And my father said, “What in the world’s the matter?” And I said, “Oh Daddy, it’s so sad.” And my father said, “Oh God, he’s going to be a musician.” (Laughs) You know, everything kind of went downhill from there. His dreams of me becoming a doctor or lawyer kind of flew out the window at right about two years old.
T-Bone: Well, I remember very clearly when I decided that I was going to have to play guitar…
JT: I remember that moment myself. As I’ve always been fond of saying, especially as you get into the Blues genre, you can always remember the very second that the Blues baseball bat hit you over the head. And you suddenly said, “What is that noise and how can I make it?” And for me, actually it was pretty early on. It was the days of transistor radios with the little earphones, if you remember those, and I had it tuned to the regular Pop station, and for some reason or another, Slim Harpo crossed over with his hit, “Scratch My Back”…and I went, “What’s that noise on my little transistor radio?” And then, a dear friend of mine from D.C…we were sitting around in his parent’s living room and I had pulled out a record by a fella named Son House. And I said, “Well, what’s this?” And he said, “Oh, that’s that stuff my parents listen to sometimes. Leadbelly and that guy.” And I threw it on the record player. Of course, the voodoo came crawling back. And I didn’t realize it was Blues I was listening to. It was just music that made me go…wacky. I mean, we were all trying to play Surf music cause it was about the only thing we could figure out how to muscle our way through, but then that (the Blues) came into play…
T-Bone: Well, there is something about the Blues – that feel… you can’t explain it.
JT: You can’t explain it! And, you know, as J.B. Hutto used to say, “I can’t ‘splain it!”
T-Bone: I’ve always said that everyone’s got a Blues bone in their body, even if they don’t know it yet.
JT: Well, it’s interesting to me, because I’ve seen more and more younger people who have been brought up on Hootie & the Blowfish and (stuff) like that, but they’ve been force fed this stuff by the radio conglomerate for so long and they’re never exposed to (Blues) unless they’re watching T.V. and they’re selling macaroni and cheese. (Laughs) And, you know, they say, “Well what’s this?” Of course, that’s not the real deal. That’s the real ‘white bread’ version to this kind of stuff. So, what’s funny, is that I’ve seen a lot of fathers dragging their guitar playing youngsters into my shows and when those kids go away they’re flabbergasted, because they’re suddenly seeing what it really can be like, and well…I guess it’s the closest thing I have to job security in this business – watching 14 year-olds get hit by the Blues baseball bat and I happen to be wielding it at the time. You know, it’s kind of an encouraging and satisfying thing.
T-Bone: Absolutely…yeah, they’re the future and you got to keep it alive and keep it rolling.
JT: Yeah, I just think that if you make it energetic enough and up-tempo enough, you will grab the attention of these younger people and they will go, “Hey, this guy’s really cool.”
T-Bone: Well, yeah, I think you’re a good ambassador for that, because you put a little bit of other influences in there with it – you rock it up a little bit.
JT: Yeah, we try to ‘hot rod’ it some. Yeah, the Blues has a certain (rep) for being a ‘falling asleep in your beer’, miserable music that’s really slow and it all has the same Blues progression and, you know, you can fall into that trap really easy, where it’s just really recycled stuff, but it doesn’t have to be. There are other parameters to it.
T-Bone: Well, yeah, a lot of people don’t realize just how wide a variety there is within the Blues.
JT: It’s where all this stuff we call Pop music came from.
T-Bone: Oh yeah, the Blues percolates through everything…
Our conversation continued on, and we will share some more of that talk with all of you in next week’s installment of BluesWax.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! ” shimmering_safire ” You are this week’s winner of an autographed Sean Costello CD, Cuttin’ In. Go to the Backstage to collect your prize. Remember to play the quiz each week for your chance to win great prizes.
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