Miss Ella Reviews Live From The Park Theater

Miss EllaCheck out this month’s Blue Monday Monthly (June 2015 @ www.bluemondaymontlhly.com). Miss Ella, Sister to the Blues, has done a review our live album, Live From The Park Theater. For those of you who haven’t met Miss Ella, she’s a prominent player in the national blues scene. We are grateful she’s taken the time to write a review of another one of our albums. 

Here I am again doing a review of Jimmi & The Band Of Souls. I have previously written one on their The Devil You Know CD.

Jimmi had sent me another CD titled LIVE FROM THE PARK THEATER. After taking a break, I played this CD until it is worn out.

If you did not read the first CD review on this band, here is the scoop. This band is so multi-talented – not only on their CDs, but live as well. I have seen them perform at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

What I heard on this CD made we wish I could have been at the Park Theater in Hayward, WI on October 3rd 2013, as they played to an audience of 2000 people. I would have bought front row seats.

The originals are so many fun songs – some scat, hand jive, and dance. You can just have a good time. Then they will bring you back to down home soul Blues. When Jimmi is not singing, he brings you his harmonica, known in the South as a “Mississippi Sax”, and makes it sing for you.

Jimmi’s vocals are outstanding but he shares the stage on the CD with the Band Of Souls, each of them a superior musician in their own right. Catch Nate Heinz’ vocals on track number eight, Willie Dixon’s Hoochie Coochie Man, worth listening to every minute. On several of the cover tracks, Jimmi adds his own additional lyrics. Get on board for the ride.

The CD is produced, mixed, and mastered by Jimmi and The Band Of Souls through his Blue Wren Recordings. Fifteen percent of all proceeds go to charitable organizations.

As I said earlier, I have worn out the one he sent so I intend to purchase another – one just wants to hear it again and again. After several interviews with Jimmi about this CD, I realized as he wrote in the liner notes: “AREN’T WE ALL IN THE BAND OF SOULS?”

Go to his website www.JimmiAndTheBandOfSouls.com . It will lead the way to this wonderful band and allow you to purchase this CD and many more. Stay tuned for there is another new CD on the way.

 

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Miss Ella and the Devil You Know

Miss Ella, a highly respected and nationally known Blues album reviewer recently wrote a review of our album, The Devil You Know. We are including it here in full, but check it out at Blues Monday Monthly. This magazine will keep you informed and up-to-date on all things Blues related!

Jimmi and The Band Of Souls – The Devil You Know – CD Review by Miss Ella

The first time I met Jimmi and The Band Of Souls was at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. I was a judge on Wednesday, Jan 21 for the quarter-finals at the Blues City Cafe. As a judge, I choose not to read the bios or speak to the artists prior to the actual judging – I prefer to let the talent speak for itself.

From the first note they hit and throughout the entire twenty-five minutes they performed, I was mesmerized and had to hold on to my Blues chair – very impressive.

I caught up with them on Beale Street later in the week whereupon Jimmi gave me this CD. After returning home, I was able to listen to The Devil You Know. Wow, was I in for a treat and still am each time I drop it in the CD player.

Jimmi’s smooth vocal talent is rich no matter what range he takes you to. Add to this voice that he is a multi-talented instrumentalist. He and the entire band are awesome.

Although he did not start playing guitar until he was seventeen, he realized music was where his soul belonged, especially Blues. Jimmi picked up other instruments along the way, and I am very impressed with his harmonica style.

Jimmi comes from a rich history of music in his family. His Father and Mother are musicians, singing and playing at the church where is Father is pastor.

On several of these tracks Jimmi’s daughter Sadie and his brothers David & Tom add backup vocals – very nice indeed!

All of the lyrics and music are written by Jimmi. Each song has a story to tell and will bring you to solid Blues. His roots and influence are with greats the likes of Muddy Waters, John Mayhall, Sonny Boy Williams, Willie Dixon, and Bessie Smith. Although he respects the newer artists, he is happy to keep with the style of these greats.

This is such a well- blended CD I could not believe it took only six months to finish. Erik Koskinen produced, mixed, and mastered this CD in Jimmi’s home studio Blue Wren Recordings. Erik is a multi-talented artist in his own right. You will find him on all but one of the tracks on this CD. Jimmi also brought in other great musical artists.

Go to www.jimmiandthebandofsouls.com to see their schedule and how to purchase this CD as well as his others. They are also available on CD Baby and other sites.

NEWS FLASH! Jimmi and The Band Of Souls will be opening for Walter Trout at several festivals this summer.

Miss Ella, Sister To The Blues

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One Day Until The IBC: Where To Go – Beale Street

This is the seven and last article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

It’s hard to believe that this is the last blog. There are still so many places to talk about. But here we are. It’s time for the IBC. In fact by the time this blog gets published it will be the first day of the event. Regardless, it seemed only fitting to end with a conversation about Beale Street.

You might think, “Why write about Beale Street since we will already spend four days there?”

Because when I walk down that street, I see more than clubs, restaurants and gift shops. I see more than dancers, lovers and friends. I see the history of American Music and the history of the fight for civil rights paraded down the street. It’s a sacred place to me with a story on every corner.

I am amazed to realize that less than 100 years ago I could have listened to Memphis Minnie busking on one corner and Bukkha White on the next block. I could have heard Bessie Smith played at the Old Daisy and jug bands playing in the park. A lot has happened on this street. I wish I knew all the stories. Let me share a few . . . I’ll start on one end of Beale and work my way down.

138 – 144 Beale – Let’s begin in the Clark Hotel, which is now Blues City Café and the Blues City General Store. The Clark Hotel was a small hotel favored by jazz musicians. Count Basie used to stay here. The bands would rehearse in the rooms and party until late at night. The area was a rough area, so gamblers and prostitutes were also customers of the hotel.

163 Beale – The A. Schwab is the only surviving business still in operation from the original Beale Street. It’s fun to visit this story and drink in the history; in fact, they even still have an old soda fountain.

179 – 183 Beale – Ever wonder that the façade is on the 100 block of Beale Street? It’s the Gallina Exchange building, which was built in 1891. The building included a hotel and a saloon, which was open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. After a fire destroyed most of the building, they bolstered the façade with steel girders. It’s now a permanent fixture on the street.

209 Beale – Battier’s Drugs. This drug store, which was open all night, operated as an unofficial emergency room for people who ran into trouble on Beale Street. The upper floors contained a hotel and a nightclub. Wet Willie’s is now in that location.

329 Beale – The Old Daisy Theater was a popular theater back in the 1930’s right up to the 1960’s. It was used to show movies and for live music performances.

340 Beale – The Monarch Club was a notorious gambling house with strong connections to the criminal underworld. It was also called “The Castle of Missing Men” because victims in violence inside could be easily transferred to the undertaker’s, which was located across the alley.

352 Beale – This is the home of W. C. Handy. This is a must see visit and tour. You get to visit the home of one of the founding fathers of the blues. (Note the house was moved from its original location which was three miles away.)

379 Beale – Beale Street was home to some of the earliest struggles for civil rights. On the far end of Beale Street stands the First Baptist Church. It was from this church that Ida B. Wells and others wrote their anti-segregationist newspaper The Free Speech and Headlight in the late 1800’s. Ida B. Wells went on to write the Red Record, an investigative journalist’s recording of lynchings in the USA. Eventually, her work led lawmakers make the terrible practice illegal.

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Two Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – Mississippi River (Mud Island and Confederate Park)

Mud Island Memphis, Tennessee, USA

This is the sixth article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

The Mississippi River, which starts in my state of Minnesota, flows south through Memphis on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. If you’ve never seen the river before, it’s worth seeing while you are in Memphis. If you have seen it before in other areas like Minneapolis or St. Louis, it’s worth checking out while you’re in town. As it comes into Memphis it spreads out into a broad, expansive river. As I watch the water flow slowly by I feel myself relax and time slows. It’s the perfect place if you want to take a break from the bustle of the city.

There are two spots to visit the river near Beale Street. One is Mud Island. Mud Island contains a park that features a scale model of the Mississippi River that you can walk through. The model isn’t just fun, it provides some interesting historical facts of the river. There is also a museum, shopping and a number of restaurants on the island.

The other location to view the river is from Confederate Park, now known as Memphis Park. It is  on the corner of Court Avenue and Front Street behind the Spring Hill Suites Hotel. The park itself has historical significance. It is on this bluff that citizens of the city watched a naval battle in which the Union Army destroyed eight Confederate vessels and took control of the Mississippi. The cannon represent cannon that were placed here to aid in the defense of the city during the war. There is a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the center of the park. The legend reads: Jefferson Davis, a true patriot. There are other plaques and commemorations to Confederate war heroes here, including Ginny Moon, the famous spy. I’ll let you wrestle with the reason why the statue continues to stand. (In fact, there is also a statue to Nathan Bedford Forrest in the city.)

Of course, there is a third option too. You could hop on a riverboat and tour the river that way. There’s nothing wrong with floating along on a big ol’ riverboat, hanging out with friends and drinking you’re favorite beverage.

So come to Memphis to listen to great music, eat good Southern food, and take in the sites that mark key moments in our nation’s history and in the evolution of music. And when you’re ready for a quieter way to spend the day, enjoy the mighty Mississippi as it flows toward the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information on Mud Island, go to http://www.mudisland.com/

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Three Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – Slave Haven

This is the fifth article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

Do you ever wonder what one person can do to make a difference? Do you ever think, “I’m not a leader. I’m not the kind of person who can inspire a movement. What could I do to make a difference . . . to make this world a better place?”

If you have ever asked this question, take some time while you’re in Memphis to visit the home of Jacob Burkle . . . also known as Slave Haven. You’ll walk away with the answer.

Jacob Burkle immigrated from Germany in the 1849 to escape persecution. He and his family settled on a little farm close to the Mississippi River. As he settled into his new life in the USA, he saw there was persecution here too, but it was worse and he wasn’t the one being subjected to it. He decided to use his house as one of the stops on the Underground Railroad.

Men, women and children escaping the clutches of slavery would stay in his cellar until it was safe. He had five exits from his cellar, so if the house was ever raided, his guests could get away. Of course, if he was caught, he could expect to spend some time in jail. When it was safe for the people to get away they raced to the Mississippi and made their way to Ohio where Quakers would help them on their way to safety.

Today, Jacob’s home has been turned into an underground railroad museum. Before my first visit, I assumed that the museum would be heavy and depressing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, you see the cruel ways slave owners treated people and the information can drive you to tears or make you shiver to think this happened in the USA. However, what’s more compelling is the cleverness, persistence and ingenuity of the African slaves. They had to be very creative in how they communicated, how they traveled, how they helped one another. It was also compelling to see how many white people helped out. It was a reminder that the fight for freedom and equality isn’t about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.

The story was inspiring. And their legacy has stuck with me.

When I look around my little world and see injustice and cruelty and wonder how I can make a difference, I remember how hard the African people fought for their freedom from slavery. I remember how ingenious some of their strategies working with few resources and under incredibly harsh, life-threatening experience. I also remember the story of Jacob Burkle. He didn’t lead marches. He didn’t make grand speeches. He didn’t didn’t organize protests.

What did he do?

He opened his home. He helped people along on their journey by giving them rest.

I can do that.

Please visit Slave Haven. You will be thankful you did. The visit takes about 90-minutes.

For more information visit http://www.slavehavenundergroundrailroadmuseum.org/

Note: Slave Haven was so inspiring to me I wrote the song “Magnolia Tree” which was featured on our first album, The Devil You Know.

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Four Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – Sun Studio

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This is the Fourth article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

Visiting Sun Records might seem an easy one to list, but given a choice, most people I have talked to have opted for Graceland instead of going to Sun. For me though, Sun is the easy choice.

Why?

Because this is the place where modern rock and roll music started. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, and featuring a 19-year old Ike Turner, recorded “Rocket 88” in this studio in the spring of 1951. This song is credited as the first rock and roll song. Just three years later, Elvis laid down his first tracks and by 1955 rock and roll was in full swing.

This is also the place where some of the most influential blues artists of the century got their start. One of my favorite blues singers, Howlin’ Wolf, started here before moving to Chess Records. B.B. King, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas also started here. All four went on to be very influential and popular blues or R&B artists.

Early rockabilly also was recorded here. Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash all recorded seminal rockabilly songs in this studio.

Yeah, this is the Mount Ararat of rock-n-roll, blues and R&B.

Don’t take my word for it. You can feel it when you first walk in the door. In spite of the thousands of tourists who have gone before you, in spite of all the noise and chatter, you can still hear the echoes of the singers and players as they worked into the early morning hours in the studio.

It’s not often a place can inspire such reverence in me while also making me smile and tap my feet. It’s a singular experience.

So go to Sun Studios. Order a milk shake, pick up some of the music they sell, and tour one of the most fantastic 475 square feet on the planet.

It takes about an hour to tour the studio. Tours are scheduled so it doesn’t hurt to call. Add a milkshake and digging through the CDs and vinyl and the trip takes about 90 minutes.

For more information, go to http://www.sunstudio.com/

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Five Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – Elmwood Cemetery

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This is the third article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

Anyone who knows me knows I love cemeteries. Each person resting in a cemetery is a reminder to me of the sacredness of this life. Each one of these people loved, worked, felt lonely, and laughed. Our lives are so short. For all we know, we have this one chance to learn how to love . . . to drink deeply from this human experience. When I walk through a cemetery, the community of souls by which I am surrounded inspire me. I wonder about their stories. I’m curious about how they lived and what they learned.

Elmwood is a particularly remarkable cemetery. It started in 1852 and sprawls across 80 acres. It’s not just a cemetery either. There is beautiful architectural and sculpture here and deep history – both local and national. It’s also an official bird sanctuary and arboretum. The beauty of the place is something to behold.

But it’s not all beauty.

There is a section for people who died during a yellow fever epidemic. This is touching area that includes a section for people who died trying to help others. It includes priests, nuns, doctors and prostitutes. There is also a large, unmarked section called “No Man’s Land” that contains the remains of 2500 people who died of the disease.

Even more touching and transformative is the slave cemetery. There are more than 300 men and women buried on a hill in unmarked graves. It stands in striking contrast to the tall obelisks and monuments that mark the graves of wealthy, European-American men and women. To me this section has been a good reminder that my story is different from many others. I know where my ancestors come from. I know that when they arrived they were free to marry, buy land and find jobs. Others have had to fight much harder to earn those freedoms. Things are better today, but the struggle isn’t over yet. May we continue to work toward a day where each person feels safe, is fairly challenged, and has similar opportunities to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

Other sites to see included visiting the graves of over 1000 Confederate soldiers who rest in an area called Confederate Soldiers Rest. There is also a section for the victims of a riverboat explosion. There are famous people buried here too, including Robert Church, the first African American millionaire; Kit Dalton of the James-Younger gang; Benjamin Hooks, NAACP leader; and Ginny Moon, a confederate spy.

There is one tombstone that is a must see. I have never seen the like in any cemetery I have visited. The grave rests on a low hill shaded by one tree. The tombstone reads:

Kate McCormick

Seduced and pregnant by her father’s friend, unwed, she died from abortion, her only choice.

Abandoned in life and death by family with but a simple rose from her mother. Buried only

through the kindness of unknown benefactors.

Died Feb. 1876, age 21

Victim of an unforgiving society,

Have mercy on us

I have so many questions about Kate and her situation. What is her story? Who is the benefactor? Was her mother present at the burial? What happened to her father’s friend? I could go on for hours about her.

As you can see, Elmwood cemetery is a treasure. I highly recommend it. You’ll never see anything else like it.

For more information, go to http://www.elmwoodcemetery.org/

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Six Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – The STAX Museum

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This is the second article in a series that highlights places to visit while in Memphis for the IBC. Jimmi Langemo of Jimmi and the Band of Souls used to spend 12 to 15 weeks of the year in Memphis doing diversity and leadership development work.

The second place I recommend you visit is the STAX Museum. When I used to tell people I was going to take them to the STAX Museum, they would often express disinterest. When I told them that this was the recording home of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs and the Staple Singers, they would thank me for the trivia, but still be disinterested. However, after their visit they would always say it was an incredibly moving experience. So, if your first response to seeing the STAX Museum as the second place to go was disinterest, I strongly suggest you reconsider your point-of-view. You will not be disappointed in your visit. You’ll emerge inspired and rejuvenated.

When you visit the STAX Museum, you will get immersed in the beginnings of R&B. The first exhibit you walk through is a real country church that has been moved into the STAX building. As you continue through the museum, you get more information on the evolution of American music and the history of our fight for civil rights. By the time you get to the founding of STAX, you understand the context in which the studio was living. I love how the museum really tells a story. They do a great job of weaving individual biographies, the history of STAX, the evolution of music and the politics of the day into one story arc.

One other reason to go: STAX has the best gift shop in town. No joke.

It takes between 90 minutes and two hours to walk through the museum.

For more information, go to http://www.staxmuseum.com/

Note:

  • If you’re hungry and want to keep the learning going, eat at the Fourway. It’s not too far from STAX. Many civil rights leaders used to eat here, including D. Martin Luther King, Jr. The menu is real deal soul food. For more info go to http://fourwaymemphis.com/
  • Memphis Slim’s house is right across the street from the museum. Make sure you check it out.
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Seven Days Until The IBC: Where To Go – The National Civil Rights Museum

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For many people, the International Blues Challenge will be your first visit to Memphis, TN. I used to spend a lot of time in Memphis, so I thought I would take a little time to be your personal tour guide. You’ll be spending a lot of time on Beale Street, but you may be asking yourself, “What do I do during the day?”. I thought over the next seven days I would highlight some of my favorite spots in the city.

The first place I would recommend is the National Civil Rights Museum. From my point of view, if you can’t visit any other place while you are in Memphis, go there. This is such an incredible place, I suggest anyone with a heartbeat should visit it at least once. I have never been to a place that is so transformative. If you open yourself up to the story that’s told inside, you will emerge a different person.

The museum is housed in the Lorraine Motel, the location where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It also includes the boarding house where James Earl Ray stood in a bathtub, slid a rifle through a jimmied windowsill and killed the civil rights leader. As you come around the corner, you will see the balcony upon which King was standing when he was shot. To me, I feel like I am walking onto sacred ground when I see that view. Across the street from the museum is the boarding house where James Earl Ray was standing when he shot Rev. King. If you look closely, you can see the windowsill on one of the upper story windows raised slightly. It was through that window that James Earl Ray slid his rifle.

The museum tells the story of the struggle for freedom in the United States. It’s a powerful story in which heroes arise from every demographic: black and white, men and women, young and old, rich and poor. After all, the civil rights struggle wasn’t about black and white; it was about right and wrong.

I have been through the museum probably 50 to 60 times. Each time I learn something new about myself and about our history.

You can take as much time as you like when you go through. I’ve known some people who spend all day. Personally, I think for the first time through if you spend two hours on the motel side and 30 minutes to an hour on the boarding house side, you’ll have an incredible experience.

While you are there, stop to talk to Jacqueline Smith before you leave. She has been outside protesting the existence of the museum since it opened. It’s great to get different points of view and hers is fascinating.

If you are in Memphis, take the time to visit this national treasure. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information, here is their website: http://civilrightsmuseum.org/

How to get there: The museum is a short trolley ride from Beale Street. It’s easy to get to.

Other notes:

  • The Arcade Restaurant is nearby. It is Memphis’ oldest restaurant. Many movies have had scenes filmed there.
  • Cheesecake Corner is also nearby. The person who owns it specializes in cheesecake. It’s all he makes and it is tasty!
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New T-Shirts Are Here!

safe_image.phpThe 2014 Winter JATBOS Clothing line is officially open for PRE-ORDERS. That’s right! You can show your hip and cool in any environment by wearing the new Jimmi and the Band of Souls t-shirts. (A lot hipper and cooler than Jimmi ever looked anyway.)

Click on the “Store” on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JimmiAndTheBandofSouls or go to jatbos.storenvy.com to shop. PRE-ORDERS will be accepted through December 20. 

The new Jimmi and the Band of Souls t-shirts: Guaranteed to bring out the Gypsy Blues in you!

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