Jim was a wonderful balladeer. His best work in music was singing wonderful ballads.
As my sister noted on the Memorial video, Jim had a heart that was wonderful. He sat and played songs all night to sooth our family’s souls after our Dad passed away in 2005.
And he would play at home as well. I loved to hear Jim play his music and sing the old ballads.
Years ago Jim would play professionally at bars in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area and he played wedding receptions as well.
I remember a story he told of a bar in the boonies somewhere out near Lanexa where he went to play for the evening. He drives up in his old yellow truck he called Bessie which was a Chevy Van with a Straight 6 and an extended length and was a school bus yellow. He unpacked his Fender speaker cabinet and bass cabinet, guitars and guitar stands, bass pedals, amp, cables, mic and mic stand, etc. and carried each of those huge cabinets as well as everything else in all by himself to set it up on the stage. Not one person offered to help but they did get a chuckle at seeing a thin, 5′ 9.5″ tall and 150-160 lb man carry the huge speaker and bass cabinets and all the other equipment to the stage and set it all up to do his show.
After he got everything all set up, and was warming up and tuning up his equipment for the show, he started singing a Gordon Lightfoot song, “If I Could Read Your Mind” and this big burly guy comes up to him and says, “I wouln’t play that in here if I was you” and Jim immediately changed the song and started singing a good ‘ole country song, “Long time forgotten, dreams that fell by the way…” and went on to play the few country songs he had in his repertoire over and over all evening. 😉
Before I actually met Jim, my sister Roberta and I went to The Greenery early one evening before the regular show started. I was going through a rough time in my previous marriage and she was trying to get me out of the house so I could enjoy myself a bit. There was a guy set up in front of the stage doing a warm up set for the band that would later be playing. He was singing a beautiful heartfelt song and it was breaking my heart with all the troubles I was going through at the time. Just way too heartfelt for me that night so we left and went to another place where we could be dance and totally forget about heartfelt stuff for a while. Jim touched my heart that night and I never forgot it but I just could not listen to such beautiful and heartfelt songs that night.
Months later, I would meet Jim at JB’s Lounge at Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center where Randy Davis was playing with his live band. I had heard that there was a great band playing there and I wanted to check them out one night. Jim and I were sitting at the bar listening to the band and yes, Randy’s band was awesome. Jim and I started talking and we talked till we closed the place down, and we didn’t even realize the time. It was a great evening for both of us and as I was leaving to go home, Jim cupped my face and kissed me and said, “don’t forget this face.” And I never did. That was June 17, 1986 the anniversary of our meeting.
It was a few weeks later – after various meetings at several lounges where Jim knew all the musicians of the live bands that played in various places around Williamsburg and he would go to enjoy them and support them by being there – when I first heard Jim play his guitar. He sang all manner of ballads and love songs that evening under the stars one night, and I realized that a few months before I had heard him play at The Greenery (another lounge in Williamsburg) and he had touched my heart so much I had to leave because I couldn’t deal with such heartfelt singing that night.
Things were never the same for either of us after that first night at JB’s Lounge. I never realized that love at first sight was a reality, but it was true between us and lasted 28 years till he passed away on December 3, 2014. Not that I stopped loving him, I still miss him terribly.
Jim often had his guitar and bass pedals set up in the living room and he would play either with the bass pedals and mic with his Fender guitar that he got from his Mom for Christmas when he was 16, or on the couch with his acoustic guitar and he would play and sing or do exercises. In the Summer, he would play in the yard too. Music was just so much a part of his life and he loved it.