(2016 Brown Cow Productions)
Buy the album here.
What a year it’s been for the Jimmys. Their Hot Dish album hit blues charts and radio with a vengeance and landed them on Downbeat Magazine’s Best Albums of 2016. At the end of the year they have three songs on the Contemporary Blues Charts while their album is sitting at #11 at this writing. They continue to amass a loyal following as their reputation soars. They now take boatload of fans on regular Jamaican excursions and are taking their blues revue overseas, building a European fan base.
Their namesake, keyboardist, vocalist and chief songwriter Jimmy Veogeli is a dairy farmer with a very successful Swiss Brown production facility (they even have their own website and you can watch a video featuring Jimmy here). You think being a farmer is tough? How about lugging a several-hundred pound Hammond around after hours while also booking and managing one of the most successful groups to come out of Madison.
If all the accolades and fistfuls of MAMA Awards aren’t proof enough, get your hands on this live CD recorded at the Sighisoara Blues Festival in Romania in 2015. The band noticeably fires up the natives; by the end leaving them chanting “Jee-mees! Jee-mees!”
Kicking things off with the instrumental “Jacqui Juice” from Hot Dish, the members take turns soloing; first guitarist Perry Weber, then trumpeter Charley Wagner, then saxophonist Pete Ross. When they get to Jimmy’s organ take, he rips off a lick that catapults the energy to another level and from there they never look back.
They move fluidly into “I Wonder,” as catchy a blues tune as one will ever hear with Voegeli’s throaty vocals turning it up a notch further. Trombonist Darren Sterud gets a spot here. A true master of the instrument, Sterud coaxes some extraordinarily soulful sounds but his playing here is nothing compared to the spotlight he’s given later in the set on the Freddie King classic, “Lonesome Whistle Blues.” Here he draws noticeable cheers after a masterful solo while the band builds to a rousing climax before bringing it all back home.
The horn section is stellar throughout the set but that is especially noticeable on “Hell or Heaven,” a fusion of pop, soul and blues with somewhat atypical chord changes and great three-part singing. The horns here are reminiscent of the best moments of classic Chicago.
Here is a studio version video featuring the Georgia Satellites (drummer Mauro Magellan’s other band) as well as “Pastor” Kyle Henderson.
Voegeli’s piano drives “Love Will Find a Way” and “Lose That Woman.” Even when he’s not soloing, his vamping on both piano and organ are a thing of beauty. The same could be said of guitarist Perry Weber, the two of them display a rare symbiosis. The rhythm section can’t be understated as well. Drummer Mauro Magellan and bassist John Wartenweiler are rock solid. Check their groove on the familiar set closer, a cooked-up version of the Band’s “Ophelia.” The groove never wavers and Magellan turns in a brief but tasteful solo.
As professional and consummate as these musicians are, the Jimmys never fail to make their shows a fun experience as the Transylvanians now must surely know. It’s little wonder that collectively and individually, the Jimmys are deservedly lauded and praised. They’re at the top of their game.