Interview with Jimmy James of King James and the Special Men

       James is a fascinating musician with one of the greatest neighborhood regular gigs around: Mondays at BJ's.  That band plays great R'n'B music from all across the time span.  The band does not come off like a museum piece at all but does give the feeling that you are outside time in another blues world.  Get right to the interview here...

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       As Jimmy explains here the driver of that is a comfortability and fascination with all kinds of music since he was four years old.   And "all kinds of music" is really what it means- Chinese Opera to Muddy Waters, Kurdish music to Kiss.  He sees connections everywhere but really seeks to communicate with people and be in line with the sort of energy that will give them what they need on their night out.

    Jimmy plays saxophone, bass, piano, guitar, piano and has a natural feel on each.  How does this happen?  Check out this interview with a musician who is currently picking up pace in the local scene and, probably has a lot to say to it. 



      Part 1  -Origins; how he came to be in New Orleans; must have a guitar; KISS; Band of Gypsies, Tutti-Frutti (first record), and acquiring a 45 collection; getting into the blues; symphony work; simultaneous punk phase; getting to bass; Nervous Dwayne; Augie Jr blues band; Carl Le Blanc; Sun Ra; Sheik Rasheed; Kidd Jordan; The Photon band; life happens!; Jesse Mae Hemphill; coming to The Special Men; Junior Kimbrough; blues songwriting and knowledge of the terminologies and meanings


      Part 2  How the special men started; moving to Alabama; Jesse Mae Hemphill; difference in solo expression from group; fat possum; original material; John Rodley; Tuba Fats; Palmetto Bug Stompers; music development; the Rainbow Fanny Pack; Bruce Brackman; Robert Snow; choosing BJ's; quitting the piano; trance music; starting a new Mardi Gras Krewe; doom; meditation metal; heading to Lincoln Center; thoughts on change; Tim Green; moving forward with The Special Men; deal with Domino Records; recording at The Parlor; gig merchandising; is the hard copy worth anything?

     The interview, in line with the rest on this site, is informal but informative.  You will hear the sounds of BJ's day shift in the background as well as words from harmonica player Bobby Lewis. 

Interview with guitarist and composer, Tim Robertson

Tim is an interesting figure in the New Orleans music vista.  He plays Bourbon St.  He is a survivor of that commercial zone and knows how to do it (or has the personality for it) in a way that doesn't limit him and has driven him plain crazy.  Many have been driven in such a direction.

Many people ask questions about validities and viabilities involved in music on Bourbon St.  Tim, from first hand experience over lot of years, engages these questions:-

What is Bourbon St.?  How does that music zone operate differently and similarly to other parts of town?  What are it's musical features and modes of development?  Is there anything really good out there? 

There is much more, however, to Tim and to this interview.  Tim is an avid experimental/modern/"classical" composer and has moved himself through in-depth, mentored, study in that direction too.  For those who may wonder what the relevance of Bourbon St. and "classical" music is to New Orleans music and whether he can really talk about it, there is more. He also plays guitar with Neslort (if you don't know then be sure to go), Amanda Shaw, and two very interesting comico-satirical-serious groups that started quite a while ago and feature a very biting and immediate viewpoint voiced by Robertson: Dirty Mouth and Hot Karl.

Enjoy the interview- there is a lot given.

The interview was conducted, 5/1/12, at the orange couch in New Orleans.


Part 1- Tim Green; Bourbon St. audiences; real bands as opposed to collections of players; how much playing time does he spend on Bourbon St?; how's the money?; how the material is selected and arranged; Tim's most important features of a good drummer; Tim's background and why he's in New Orleans; Mark Diflorio; John Bagnato; a cerebral player; at Duke University and dropping sports for music; fascination with music theory; Haydn scores, symmetry and structure; revisiting music from childhood.

Part 2- David Bowie; how he started on guitar; the appeal of volume and speed; questions about Metal and the makeup of heaviness; Black Sabbath; Django's influence on Tony Island; King Thunder and the emergence of Hot Karl; Benji's Kosick unique approach; Captain Beefheart; Hot Karl's impact on Tim's approach; the subtleties of time in rock music; evolutionary psychology

Part 3- More on Hot Karl; satire at Checkpoint Charlie's on Monday nights; not taking himself seriously and coming up against the limits of musicians' sense of humor; Dirty Mouth; Chameleon theater and big band; Dave Stover; Dave Sobel; David James; starting point: "everybody fuck off"; the release of Dirty Mouth; Rob Wagner; ideas for the Morning 40 Federation; "Bourbon St. is all in your head"; studying composition privately and what lead to that; obsession with 12 tone music and serialism; finding the teacher; strictness about good notation practice and its advantages; ridiculing the trumpet; a Mike Darby aside

Part 4- Uses of composition training in Tim's everyday work; Tim's harmonic language; how he appropriates work from scores; getting in to Amanda Shaw's band; fitting into Bourbon St. schedule and Neslort schedule; fitting well with the idiosyncracies of Rick Trolsen's music; "I have my own ideas about rhythm!"; "I never count in my brain higher than 3!"; Das Rhinegold; things that are coming up-Dirty Mouth, Trio; arguing on stage; Alex Mcmurray in a mini cooper; interviewer-->interviewee switcheroo; looking for financial independence to continue working on music development

Phil Degruy interviewee/ interviewer

Phil is one of the most fascinating and innovative instrumentalists from New Orleans.  His creativity is not bound by the guitar- he also modifies, or maybe corrects, a lot of what falls in front of him and on him.  He even invented and plays a kind of guitar- the guitarp.  In this interview in a few parts, he talks about style in his playing, his guitar influences, alternate lyrics, new orleans guitar scene history, and converses and hypothesizes about the problems of music business and herd mentality.

part 1   part 2   part 3   part 4   part 5


 Then the tables suddenly turned...  Phil Degruy interviewed Jonathan Freilich about times in the city, guitar, Naked On The Floor, music philosophy, music background, and composition.

    part 1 part 2   part 3   part 4