The Jimmys

an interview with singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Jimmy Voegeli
by Teri Barr
January 2020

Jimmy Voegeli, namesake of The Jimmys - photo by Sweet Chica Music

Jimmy Voegeli, namesake of The Jimmys
photo by Sweet Chica Music

Farming, and the blues. If you are Jimmy Voegeli—band leader, singer, organ and piano player in his band, The Jimmys—the two have gone together, as long as he can remember. Yet, he’s never written a song about it. “When I first started this musical journey, people would ask me, where are you from? What’s your day job? Some would scoff or laugh at my farming background,” Jimmy Voegeli says. “I’ve always been staunchly proud of our 6th generation family farm, and would love to put it to music.”

The idea could end up being one of Jimmy’s future goals since he’s now met or topped almost everything else he set out to do. He’s won dozens of awards for his keyboard playing and the band has been honored with high recognition, too. He’s traveled various parts of the world thanks to music, and has played with many well-known musicians on stage, including Pinetop Perkins, Guitar Shorty, Joe Bonamassa, and more. Jimmy has also recorded with some greats, one most recently for The Jimmys new album, “Gotta Have It.”

“I never in my wildest dreams would have believed the first time I saw my piano playing idol, Marcia Ball, some 30 years ago at The Crystal Corner Bar in Madison, I would eventually write and record with her,” Jimmy says. “The making of this album has been the most difficult project, and simultaneously the most rewarding.” Jimmy didn’t only enlist Marcia for the band’s latest music, but recruited well-known Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray drummer Tony Braunagel to produce it.

“We added in our people, and more than a dozen other greats as well,” Jimmy says. “And it was all done at our favorite studio in the world, Makin’ Sausage Music in Milwaukee!” Marcia, who has been nominated for a Grammy five times, will also be taking part in The Jimmys annual concert get-away to Jamaica in March.

Jimmy’s idea for his own band, and everything he wanted to go with it, started years ago, when he recorded a solo album after playing with Westside Andy and Mel Ford for 18 years. “Trying to understand why it was time is hard to remember. However, I recall my father always telling me to bide my time and it would simply feel right,” Jimmy says. What also felt right? Getting the right people together to make solid music magic. “Solid as hell indeed, that’s an understatement,” Jimmy says as he describes the process. “I started with recruiting my old band I was playing with before I joined Westside Andy and Mel Ford. That band was called The Gatecrashers, featuring Mauro Magellan (from the Georgia Satellites), Gary Hendrickson and his wife Jenny Depre,’ and my still current bass player John Wartenweiler.” Jimmy tells me, “By chance, I was dropping off CDs at a local record store and bumped into saxophonist Bryan “Bonehead” Husk who was part of Funky Drummer Clyde Stubblefield’s Monday night band,” Jimmy says. “We struck up a conversation, and decided to have that group of no good doers join in! I believe that included Alex Leong, current member Pete Ross, Bonehead, and eventually Chad Whittinghill. We hit the ground running and quickly started traveling and making records. And we haven’t looked back.”

The idea of not looking back means there’s that new album to share in 2020. And even though Jimmy described the creation of “Gotta Have It” as the most difficult and most rewarding, it is already earning accolades One review indicates it makes a good case for international notice, and runs the stylistic gamut—jump blues, shuffles, boogies, golden-era R&B, even New Orleans traditional jazz. The official celebration of the album’s release begins alongside a kick-off for the Winter Series of shows at The East Side Club in Madison. The Jimmys are the featured artist on Friday, January 17, starting at 7 pm.

So, we end where we started, with the idea of a farming-related blues song. I ask Jimmy if one might end up on a future album. “I have a couple of songs that I just can’t put the final touches on. So close, but so close to my heart,” Jimmy says. “And that makes it incredibly difficult to get it right. I don’t want to sound corny (pun intended) with the lyrics.” Jimmy goes on to tell me, and this is my favorite part,”To be blatantly and artistically honest with a song, is the most rewarding, and challenging part. Mauro would say we all come from somewhere, and hey, that may be the start of it!” Write on Jimmy, write on.

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CD: Gotta Have It Record Label: Intercept Music