Despite being in a popular Rock band during the 60’s, Jimmy was always drawn in the direction of folk music and roots music in general. Although, largely forgotten, Dave Van Ronk was by far the best and most authentic of the folk era, He was Bob Dylan’s mentor. Jimmy plays a number of Ronk’s best songs. Dave played a lot of blues and he played them very well. When singing blues Dave Van Ronk never made an attempt to sound black. That is what made him sound good. His phrasing and emphasis was right on the money. Jimmy’s rule is to sing blues as who you are. Doing it any other way sounds silly. Ray Charles sang country music without trying to sound like Hank Williams. It always sounds ridiculous to try and sound like someone else.
When Jimmy was 10 years old his grandmother gave him a harmonica for Christmas. He has never been carrying one with him ever since. The older harmonicas always had a wooden comb. They actually have a better sound but they wear out pretty quick. Prior to 1976, Jimmy never paid more than $3.00 for a harmonica. During the 80s Jimmy switched to plastic comb harmonicas. They sound almost as good and last many times longer. Initially he played straight harmonica and was confounded as to how professional players got the special effects they were using.
The best music always comes from the hearts of oppressed people. That explains the popularity of blues. Popular music is dominated by ideas from black Americans. The Irish heavily influenced popular music as well.
Both Sonny Boy Williams 1 and 2. Blues artists did not live easy lives. Jon Lee “Sonny Boy: Williams died young. He was robbed and stabbed in the head with an ice pick after gig. Sonny Boy Williams II died of a heart attack on stage in 1965. Junior Wells, Sonny Terry,Tampa Red and Big Maceo all had had made huge contributions to American Music. If Jimmy had to pick the best sounding blues artist of all times it would be Junior Wells.
He was just a young fellow when Sonny Boy II, his mentor, was in his prime. Hoo Doo Man has been covered many times but Junior Wells rendition tops everyone’s. The tone, mood, phrasing and energy level is simply the best ever. Wells died much to young at 64.
We must not forget Blind Willie Mc Tell. Curbside Jimmy does his own rendition of “Sending Up My Timber.” Which might have been Mc Tell’s best song. Broke Down engine is another one Jimmy does.
Curbside Jimmy has his own unique style but he certainly learned a lot ot tunes and licks from these guys’. If there is anything Jimmy does that has a little of these guys flavor in it, that would be considered a complement. Curbside Jimmy has listened to the recordings of these early artists and owes a lot to them.