Introduce yourself and your music
I am Jimi Beavis from Brisbane and I basically play a modern take on harmonica led 1950s blues and roots. I have been playing the blues scene in Brisbane and at various blues and roots festivals in the country since 2007 and more recently started playing with roots bands of various kinds in the indie scene. I started gigging when I was 27 so I guess I started late compared to many people, but I have been writing songs since I was 17, although most of them were dreadful. I am madly obsessed with roots music in all its forms – blues, country, folk, soul, jazz, Caribbean and New Orleans music and that heavenly mélange of all of those things such as Dylan and The Band or Tom Waits or over here bands such as Papa Pilko and the Bin Rats.
Describe your sound and lyric style
I have taken to calling my style of music “indie roots revival” as people have fixed ideas about what blues is, but it’s also a tongue-in-cheek term that fits. My music often depends on who I have as a band (usually guitar, double bass and drums) and currently those cats are jazz trained musicians who are also very good at just about anything rootsy, especially funk. Add a New Orleans influence to Chicago blues and altered through the filter of my band, my Little Walter influenced harmonica and my original songs (often written with my guitarist Dave McGuire), my own idiosyncratic voice and you might have some idea of where I am coming from. I tend to write short narratives within song, with an attempt at exploring different facets of human relationships – not necessarily mine.
Who are your main influences? What else inspires you?
I love just about any form of 1950s blues, especially Chess label musicians such as Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson (both) and Little Walter. Lately, through some of my musical collaborators I have been exploring New Orleans music. The last few years I have been obsessed with Tom Waits and Nick Cave and how they use blues and folk imagery in their music and the lyrics they use.
When I first became more serious about finding new music my hero was Bob Dylan and the expressive abstract lyrics he uses. I then began to explore outwards to various bands and musicians he was associated with. I am heavily influenced in some way by local bands such as the Go-Betweens and also the narrative style of Lucinda Williams and the Band.
More recently I have become interested in early folk and blues from 1920s to the 1940s and the period when many of those singers were rediscovered in the late 1950s/early 1960s, as well as Ry Cooder’s production work, especially with Mavis Staples.
Then again, every time I listen to the Beatles or Motown or Miles Davis and John Coltrane or Wilco I am almost always inspired to make music. I don’t make music like them but I find them uplifting and inspirational. Other influences outside of my music would have to be whatever I am reading or movies I am watching at the time that I write a song and as an English/film teacher I do this on a regular basis. My band inspires me to greater heights – the secret to being a good lead singer is to have a band with better musicians than you. My parents are also an inspiration – they met while acting in a play and have always encouraged their children to pursue something in the arts.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I am finishing off an album, which will be my first full length album. We just have to add horn, percussion and keyboard overdubs. It contains many of the straight blues songs I have written over the last 10 years including some that I have rewritten with Dave to make them more interesting. They have a slightly altered form that doesn’t stick to the blues rules. But I am always writing songs, so I have divided the songs from the last year and some from before into three groups – two for separate albums and one for a possible stripped back EP that I can tour by myself on guitar and banjo.
Are you touring now? When/where?
I am not doing much touring at the moment as I am readying myself to finish the album and promote the single. I am hoping to come down to Sydney and Melbourne in October or February and then several more times throughout 2014. Despite playing since 2007, I haven’t left Brisbane much so my goal for the next year or so is to do that more.
What can people expect at your live gigs?
We usually try to have an energetic live show that ebbs and flows between fast paced dance songs and the slower, more intense songs. The band likes to leave the onstage antics for me and I am happy to oblige although I like Dave to take a solo centre stage especially when the crowd is digging it. We don’t like to be a blues-rock-endless-jam band, so we often keep solos short and sweet, depending on the song or the audience. But if you like to dance and carry on or sit back and just listen: I like to think we can do both. I have a snappy fashion sense in old timey suits, ties and hats for a pleasing visual as well!
Where can people check out your music?
We usually play at least once a month in Brisbane and sometimes the Gold Coast or northern NSW, but if you want to hear my music, http://jimibeavis.bandcamp.com/ is the best place. It has up several EPs and one of them includes a free collection of short stories that go with the songs.
I also have a Youtube page – http://www.youtube.com/jimibeavisblues which has my video clips as well as my various silly clips of the band fooling around in the studio or promoting a gig.
For general news, and regular links to my work or gigs Facebook is best – http://www.facebook.com/Jimi.Beavis