Q&A with singer/organist Jimmy Voegeli of The Jimmys - a Kick Ass Blues/R&B band from Madison Wisconsin

"Blues is changing in many ways, yet is wonderfully stubborn as well. It needs to evolve to survive, but respecting the roots is paramount. It will be a balance between new and old from now on, since most of the inventors and pioneers have inevitably passed."

Jimmy Voegeli: The Gumbo of The Jimmys

The Jimmys are a Kick Ass Blues/R&B band from Madison Wisconsin. They have been entertaining crowds for 12+ years. From local clubs to major festivals, they have traveled the globe! The Jimmys previous albums have been nominated and/or received, multiple awards including Blues Performer, Contemporary Blues Album and Artist of the Year. The Jimmys have included guest stars on their former releases including Bun E Carlos, Billy Flynn, Jim Liban and the Legendary Clyde Stubblefield. The Jimmys new album "Gotta Have It",with an official release date of December 31, 2019, is already turning heads! Produced by Tony Braunagel (drummer for Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray) this new 13 song CD features The Jimmys at full throttle with all new tunes along with "Write a Hit" co-written and performed with Marcia Ball!

Singer, organist and songwriter of The Jimmys, Jimmy Voegeli played with the Westside Andy and Mel Ford band for 18 years - voted "Best Blues Band in Wisconsin" and "Best Band in Madison" numerous times; they received a Grammy Award nomination for "Contemporary Blues Album" in 2003. Jimmy went to Europe with The Crashers in 2003 in support of their "Love School" CD, touring with Dan Baird and Homemade Sin. He's been on stage with such greats as Pinetop Perkins, Rusty Zinn, Guitar Shorty, Joe Bonamassa, Perry Weber, Rev Raven, Billy Flynn, Tab Benoit, James Solberg, Shirley King, EC Scott, Clyde Stubblefield, Ben Sidran, Ken Saydak, and Dave Specter. There'd be more listed if his crusty little brain could remember! Jimmy's recorded with The Funkmasters (John 'Jabo' Starks and Clyde Stubblefield - former drummers for James Brown), The Crashers, Lucas Cates, Robert J, Paul Filipowicz, The Velveetatones, Alex Wilson, Aaron Williams, Bobby Messano, and Fedora - just to name a few.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Soul/R&B music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

In the tumultuous world we live in now, Blues and R&B music is seemingly the only righteous and honest thing happening.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? what touched (emotionally) you from the sound of Hammond/Organ?

The first Hammond I saw, I bought...only knew I wanted one from hearing Reese Wynans first, THEN my world opened up to Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, etc. etc. etc. Our sound is a gumbo of many strains of Blues and R&B from New Orleans Funk to straight up Chicago Blues and everything between.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Always love visiting with Billy Flynn, Marcia Ball and Tinsley Ellis, there are always honest with any question I ask. and recently had a wonderful visit or 2 with Rick Estrin. One line I always remember came from my former drummer who is from The Georgia Satellites, "Be nice and professional at all times, the same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down."

"The first Hammond I saw, I bought...only knew I wanted one from hearing Reese Wynans first, THEN my world opened up to Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, etc. etc. etc. Our sound is a gumbo of many strains of Blues and R&B from New Orleans Funk to straight up Chicago Blues and everything between." (Jimmy Voegeli / Photo by Tom Daniel)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Still pinch myself from doing an album with Clyde Stubbelfield and Jabo Starks and the experience of having the Hammond set up between the 2 drum sets...scary, yet incredible! I certainly learned he most from recording this album and understanding the genius that is Tony Braunagel. I played on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise this fall as a solo piano player. I called out to Keb’ Mo who was watching from afar, he reluctantly came up, we sang one of his songs, we ended having a blast and a bunch of laughs!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I never got to see Albert Collins, Muddy, Howlin'...none of them. I was not "introduced" to the blues yet. But those men...wow, they define so much of where it all comes from for me. Blues is changing in many ways, yet is wonderfully stubborn as well. It needs to evolve to survive, but respecting the roots is paramount. It will be a balance between new and old from now on, since most of the inventors and pioneers have inevitably passed.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?

Bide your time, show respect, work hard, be humble, treat EVERYONE with dignity...the exact things taught to me by my family here at our 6th generation Dairy Farm that I work at every day.

What would you say characterizes Wisconsin blues scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

Our fine state has some incredible talent and hard-working men and women pushing this genre. I see nothing different here, from anywhere else. It's a family and all are in it together.

"In the tumultuous world we live in now, Blues and R&B music is seemingly the only righteous and honest thing happening."

(Photo: Jimmy Voegeli)

What is the impact of Blues and Soul music on the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

A tough question. I see artists shy away from each of these issues as to not alienate people. I respect that. I see others grab the bull by the horn and use the Blues as a pulpit for change. I respect that as well...Some days I follow both paths, but I do know that speaking up makes a difference, and when done with honesty and intellect, people will listen.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

For many reasons, I would have loved to have been at Muscle Schoals during sessions especially with The Stones and Skynyrd, Traffic!..even just be a fly on the wall, but the smoke may have killed me.

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