John Nemeth, Jimmy Thackery, The Stacy Jones Band

John Nemeth

Boise, Idaho is hardly the place anyone would conjure up as a hotbed of soul-blues.

But for John Németh, it's where his love for the genre began—and the starting point for a journey that's taken him from his first gigs fronting a teenage blues band to five Blues Music Award nominations in 2013 alone.

It's where this preternaturally talented son of a Hungarian immigrant gained his early chops on the harmonica, building on the style of blues heroes like Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Németh's first paid performance came in 1991, when he was hired to perform drinking songs for a pinochle luncheon held by the Catholic Daughters of America. The following summer, his first band, Fat John and the Three Slims, landed a steady gig performing outlaw country and Chicago blues covers at the Grubstake Saloon in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho—but the group was 86'ed from the town after their soon-to-be ex-drummer was caught mouthing off to drunken, angry loggers during the annual Loggers Day Festival. Unchastened, Németh and his band set their sights on the Boise club scene, where, for nearly a decade, they played seven nights a week at local pubs, taverns, joints, and parties.

"I remember telling friends up North in '80 that they should go see Stevie Ray Vaughan, but they weren't impressed because he wasn't famous yet. It will give me great pleasure to say, 'I told you so!' about John Németh. You'll see."
Bob Margolin, Blues Revue Magazine
Dec/Jan 2005

After opening a show for Junior Watson, Németh was tapped as tour opener for the jump blues guitarist, a gig that took him across the United States, to Scandinavia, and into the recording studio for his 2004 solo debut, Come And Get It, featuring Watson. When Németh's girlfriend decided to relocate to California, he knew he couldn't lose her, so he packed up the house and traveled west. It was an astute move: shortly after arriving in San Francisco, Németh was performing at Biscuit and Blues when Blind Pig Records signed him to a three-album deal.

"Either John Németh is one of the greatest vocalists in the world or this was the best performance of his life, or both."
Bob Horn, Washington Blues Society

Opportunities abounded, from the phone call Németh got from Anson Funderburgh, who was looking for a frontman to fill in for ailing blues legend Sam Myers, to a gig opening for Elvin Bishop, which led to Németh's role as featured vocalist on Bishop's Grammy nominated album The Blues Rolls.

"I learned a lot living in Oakland and San Francisco," Németh says, "from recording and performing with Elvin Bishop to hearing Freddie Hughes perform. Record shops like Amoeba Records and Down Home Music provided a wealth of material that did not exist back home in Idaho, like the records of Lowell Folsom, Jimmy McCracklin, Roger Collins and the songbook of Bob Geddins. Oakland is like a truly southern city, only it's on the west coast. It wasn't until after I arrived that I discovered that so many great songs I love actually originated there."

"Hands down the toughest young harp player I've ever heard."
R.J. Mischo, 2002

After logging over 1000 concerts between 2007 and 2011, Németh released a pair of live solo albums showcasing his 25 most popular songs. Those discs, titled Blues Live and Soul Live, received five Blues Music Award nominations—the most ever for any live release. They also earned critical acclaim that places Németh in, as Nick Cristiano of the Philadelphia Inquirer put it, "a cadre of young and relatively young artists such as James Hunter, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, and Sharon Jones."

In early 2013, Németh traded his life on the west coast to settle down in Memphis, Tennessee. He and Jaki, that girlfriend he followed to California, had married and started a family, and Memphis made sense for multiple reasons: It's centrally located for touring, the cost of living is inexpensive, and the river town is the historical ground zero for blues, soul, and rock-and-roll.

"I moved to Memphis because it is the epicenter for soul and blues," Németh confirms. "The wealth of knowledge runs deep in the instincts of its musicians and its studios. Memphis is also the home of the Blues Foundation, the Blues Hall Of Fame, and many fine venues and radio stations dedicated to local music."

"Boy! John Németh can really belt it out!"
Charlie Musslewhite, 2004

The 2000-mile trek south was wild. Németh's 26-foot Budget rental truck broke down in the middle of the night in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he had to unload the entire truck and reload a new one on the side of the road. A scant two days after that, he was in Memphis and, as improbably as it sounds, in the recording studio.

Németh landed in the perfect place: Electraphonic Studio, home of producer and musician Scott Bomar, who composed the film scores for Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan and produced Cyndi Lauper's Memphis Blues. Backed by the Bo-Keys, Bomar's group of veteran Memphis performers who made their names playing with the likes of Al Green, O.V. Wright, Rufus Thomas, and the Bar-Kays. Németh quickly laid down thirteen tracks that, as he describes it, "live in the style like I live in the style." The tapes from that session caught the ear of music industry veteran Charles Driebe, who took the album to Denby Auble of Blue Corn Music. The Americana/roots music label quickly signed Németh, adding him to a roster that boasts the likes of Ruthie Foster, Gurf Morlix, and Steve Forbert.

"John Németh's voice is a national treasure."
Junior Watson, 2002

Memphis Grease embodies everything that sets this artist apart from the soul-blues revivalist pack: it's innovative and unique while epitomizing the absolute best of the genre. It's a deeply forged amalgamation of scorching harmonica-driven blues and sweet blue-eyed soul ala the Box Tops or Roy Head, delivered via two fistfuls of originals and a trio of carefully chosen covers: Otis Rush's hard-driving "Three Times a Fool," which opens the album; an electrifying take on Howard Tate's Northern Soul favorite "Stop;" and Roy Orbison's "Crying," reinvented here as a slow-burning soul number that matches anything that came out of late-1960s Muscle Shoals.

"John Németh is a natural-born Bluesman, and he proves it with every note he sings, shaping each one with emotion, taste and inspiration. John's expressive Blues harp playing answers his voice and fulfills his songs when he solos. John Németh makes it sound easy."
Bob Margolin, 2004

The album title itself is evocative of Németh's journey to Memphis. The soul-blues scene he fell into in the Bay Area is historically referred to as "Oakland Grease," and two of Oakland's "greasiest" artists, blues guitarist Lowell Fulson and jump blues pianist Jimmy McCracklin, journeyed south to record two of their best, if often overlooked albums: Fulson's funky psych-blues In A Heavy Bag was cut at Muscle Shoals' FAME Studio in 1969, while McCracklin's soulful 1971 album, High on the Blues, was recorded at Memphis' Hi Records with none other than Howard Grimes (now with the BO-Keys) on drums. For Németh, Memphis Grease is a natural concept that marries the techniques he honed in the Bay Area with the intuitiveness that flows between him and the Bo-Keys.

"When it comes to more traditional styles of music, people expect to hear a tribute record. But you can get into a real rut if you're just doing rewrites," Németh says. "We're creating fresh music here. Our arrangements sound just like they would back then, but what we're doing is so much more innovative."

Németh is right. While the arrangements of these songs might be based in the tradition of, say, B.B. King or Junior Wells, the delivery is wholly his own. You can really hear the confidence he has in the Bo-Keys, such a phenomenal set of musicians that he knew they could handle everything he threw at them during the sessions. With the inter-generational combination of drummer Howard Grimes, guitarist Joe Restivo, Al Gamble on keyboards, producer Scott Bomar on bass, venerable soul vocalist Percy Wiggins singing background, and a killer horn section featuring Marc Franklin, Kirk Smothers, and Art Edmaisten, it's a collaboration that sounds completely effortless. Together, Németh and the Bo-Keys take soul-blues from a simmer to a full boil.

"Definitely one of the best club shows that I've ever seen. John Németh is simply the Blues artist that I feel is most deserving of more recognition. Check the man and his band out whenever you might get the chance." - Don "T-Bone" Erickson, BluesWax, 2004

Jimmy Thackery

Whether Jimmy Thackery headlines a festival in South Dakota or jams for hours in one of numerous blues bars that dot the musical landscape, he'll always unleash an intense volley of rockin' blues guitar guaranteed to leave crowds emotionally spent. His double edged guitar dynamics allow him to fire off tracer missiles, bend a note so it will fit under a limbo bar, run off dive bomber riffs, and find space within the trembling of one stinging note. "I put all my senses on hold and find the zone and follow what's inside. There's an electricity from your mind to your heart to your fingers. You just try and remember to breathe."

He's one of the few blues guitarists who learned first hand from the masters of the blues, not off a blues record or DVD. Though most associate Jimmy with his 15 years as the co-founder of the Nighthawks, he ended his time with them in 1987. Since then, Jimmy has been on the road as a solo musician for 15 years doing nearly 300 shows a year proving each night that he is still the guitar powerhouse in the blues.

Thackery has lived the life of a true road warrior; he's absorbed the artistic lessons of life and filtered them into his guitar playing and song writing. To get where he is today, Jimmy has journeyed a highway of life filled with a series of twists and turns. He met all the right people and they have had a permanent influence on him.

It was Thackery's time on stage with Muddy Waters that is branded deep within his musical soul. "Muddy was one of those guys who was constantly encouraging. He never told you what to do, but he always told you what you were doing wrong. He never minced words about that.

"The first time on stage with Muddy, I was in such awe of him that I just kept my eyes and ears open and just picked up on everything he did. It was the dynamics they had that became so ingrained in us. We heard it on the records and then stood on stage and saw how it worked."

Thackery left the Nighthawks in 1987 because he wanted the opportunity to write and put newer material into the sets. First he formed a six piece R&B band, the Assassins, an all-star R&B, funk band from the DC area, and recorded three albums with them. Then, in 1992, Thackery put together his three piece band called the Drivers to highlight his explosive guitar and hit the blues highway.

"The 1990′s were a fabulous time. We were working our butts off doing" close to 300 shows a year. The irony is that was one of the reasons I'd left the Nighthawks, I was tired of working so much and not having a life outside the music. When you're out on your own, you'd better rise to the occasion. So I found myself back in the 300 night niche. What made that satisfying is that it was my ship and I was the captain of it. We were doing material that I was writing. We were doing arrangements that I came up with." Whenever Thackery plays live, a guitar stand props up four guitars and Thackery will announce to the audience, I'm gonna use all of them tonight!"

His recordings are no different. In that time, he's recorded eight discs for Blind Pig.

His first record, Empty Arms Motel, was released in 1992. "That one still seems to be the favorite of a lot of people. I went into Kingsnake Records and rattled off some covers and originals. Halfway through, Bob Greenlee called Jerry Del Guidance at Blind Pig about the sessions." From that session, Thackery began his years with Blind Pig.

In 1993 he followed up with Sideways In Paradise, a down home, laid back acoustic duet with John Mooney. Then, in 1994 Jimmy recorded Trouble Man, with Memphis producer Jim Gaines. That began their five record association. Wild Night Out, a 1995 live recording, Drive To Survive in 1996, Switching Gears in 1998, and Sinner Street, which added a sax to Thackery's music in 2000. "I think that record, Trouble Man, turned the corner for me because I had a real producer and I was doing original songs. That gave me a direction. Jim and I did a lot of projects together. He did everything through Sinner Street. I was learning so much by watching him as a producer that by the end of Sinner Street, we both came to the realization that I was ready. I was telling him what was going on. He knew that I'd lost my training wheels."

After leaving Blind Pig, Thackery has released and produced two of his own records, We Got It and True Stories, on Telarc and two collaborations on Telarc with Tab Benoit, Whiskey Store and Whiskey Store Live. And there was the critically acclaimed reunion with his old friend David Raitt on Blue Rock It"

All this has lead to a new Jimmy Thackery. Because every record is more about originals than covers, Jimmy traveled to Nashville to work out his songs with some of the best. This is not a Jimmy Thackery goes country. This is Jimmy Thackery rocks the blues. "I think True Stories on Telarc is my best song writing to date. For the newest Telarc project I went to Nashville to work with Gary Nicholson. I wanted to go and see how the guys in Nashville go about writing songs. We wrote this from the ground up. I came in with hooks and ideas and lines. I didn't want to be overly prepared. I wanted to see how they build these songs lyrically. What you do with Gary Nicholson is throw out a hook or line and take off from there and you don't leave that garage until you're done with a song."

Jimmy describes what writing is like for him. "Inspiration can come at any time. It might be a lyric first or it might be a musical lick first. It might just be a form thing. In my world, a lyric tends to be a musical road map. It tends to set up the music I hear in my head. The cadence of a lyric tends to suggest the way to go on the guitar. There was one tune we labored over with a certain groove and feel and it wasn't rising to the occasion. At the very last second, Gary and I said, "Why not just rock this thing out. We completely switched gears and totally changed the patterns and chords and went for something completely different. We did it in one take. It's the first song on the record and it just kicks ass."

And there is Thackery's guitar. "There are three guitar instrumentals on this record because I wanted to make a guitar oriented record. The guitar is still very rootsy stuff that is very rooted in blues. But also rooted in surf and spy music. I'm a sucker for that straight eight beat, twangy, minor scale instrumental stuff. The first thing every body did when they got a guitar in the early 1960′s was to play the music of the Ventures. I'm still staying true to those roots. Blues is well represented, but so is all that other music I heard. But so is all the other music I listened to."

To make the best record possible, Jimmy hired some of the best musicians Nashville had to offer. It's no coincidence that many of these names also work with fellow blues rocker, Delbert McClinton. Jimmy notes that even though it has a Delbert feel, it still has all of his integrity. "Maybe because of the way it's laid out and the common musicians, it will strike a chord with fans who don't normally buy my records."

To support his newest project, Thackery's ready to do the road time. "I started thinking that I missed the days when I was just a full blown, kick ass trio. I thought it would be fun to go back to that. I did keep Mark Stutso, my drummer of 15 years. He knows what direction I'm going in before I do."

Between constant road work with his own band, producing the latest record by his Arkansas friends, the Cate Brothers, recording Whiskey Store with Tab Benoit and touring in support and playing various Nighthawks reunions, Thackery's plate is overflowing, and that's exactly how Thackery likes life – Overflowing.

To learn more about Jimmy Thackery visit his website:
www.jimmythackery.com

The Stacy Jones Band

The 2014 & 2010 Washington Blues Society "Female vocalist of the year."
WA Blues Society's 2009 BB Award Winner "BEST NEW BAND"
SJB continues to blow fans away with their high-energy, genre bending performances. Amazing vocals, incredible musicianship, outstanding songwriting and powerful, dynamic arrangements – it's easy to understand why Stacy and her band are captivating the crowds and gathering new fans at each event they perform.
Stacy Jones not only impresses with a vocal richness beyond her years but is also a top-notch harmonica player as well as playing keyboards and acoustic guitar.
The entertaining trio of Rick Bowen (drums), Tom Jones (bass) and 2012 IBC winner Kevin Sutton (guitar) provides the foundation for a strong ensemble sound and the band's obvious joy of making music together is contagious.
In 2009 The Stacy Jones Band took the Seattle music scene by storm, playing over 115 gigs & festivals as well as winning the Best New Band award from The Washington State Blues Society.
The band released a limited edition CD Live at the Triple Door, in September2009
The Stacy Jones Band's first full length CD "Long Time Comin" was released in January 2010 and continues to receive strong airplay and is now in its second pressing. 2011 looks promising for this Northwest favorite.
May 2010 Stacy Jones is award the Best Female vocalist award from The Washington Blues Society.
Nov 2011 the band released "No Need to Spell It Out," on Critical Sun Recordings. The 4th full length album was Produced by Bubba Jones and recorded at Contact Create Studios-Snohomish. 2012 the album was nominated for NW recording of the year by the Washington Blues Society.
Dec 2011 Jeff Menteer released "The Nature of My Dreams," his first solo album featuring memebers of SJB ,produced by Jeff Menteer and Tom Jones.
June 1.2012 release Live And Untapped. captured May 2011 at the Untapped Blues and Brews festival,Showcasing the strengths and depth of the whole group, the set was recorded by Jazz Stream mobile and mixed at Studio Litho in Seattle by Floyd Reitsma (Pearl Jam-Dave Mathews) and mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI.

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