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.
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.
We got the awesome opportunity to catch up with Jimmy before he hits the State Theatre on June 21. Check out what the impeccably talented musician had to share!
When did you start playing guitar and what sparked your interest in that instrument?
’66. I grew up in the TV generation and television back in the 50s, 60s and even 70s had great TV theme songs. A lot of them were guitar oriented. Many of the shows had good breezy, twangy guitar lines. Those things caught my ear. Then there was something called surf music and then the British invasion with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks and all that good stuff. I was very guitar-driven and it was a natural progression.
You were in a couple bands before you decided to go off on your own musical path. Was that a big change for you?
Absolutely, big life changes! We went all over the globe and we were well-known, we were pioneers in a lot of ways. At some point, I decided to go off on my own. My gosh, leaving my parents’ house was less traumatic! I left the first band to start the second one. It was huge; there was anywhere from six to thirteen pieces in it. I knocked it down to a trio and that was in and of itself traumatic. Through trial and error, I realized that my best format is a three-piece band.
In the past five years, what has been your most memorable gig?
I just played a giant blues festival in Mumbai. That’s going to be memorable for quite a while. I was over in Europe touring and got an emergency phone call. Apparently Jimmie Vaughan had a heart attack and they needed someone to fill in. They called me and asked me if I could do this. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to go back to the States to wash my socks, but I’ll be there’.
What is your dream gig?
I would like very much to play in China at some point. It would be an amazing experience. I have always felt that doing this [music] is a great way to see the world. I’ve played some of the greatest gigs in the world! I’ve played with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, I would love to play a gig with Billy Gibbons. I’ve had quite a run. I’ve played with 90% of my heroes.
Do you have any new music in the works?
I’m about half way through a studio record but I’ve had a kind of tumultuous, abnormal year. I normally have taken off the winter and stay home until early spring. During that time, I usually sit here in my studio in the Ozarks and write music and record. This last winter I ended up in Europe and then ended up in Mumbai. Then we decided to move out of the country. Moving out of the country makes it a different situation. I’m just going to roll with the punches.
Do you have any surprises in store for the show at the State Theatre?
I’m very excited because the opening act, Jimmy Cole, is the guitar player that I ran away from home with fresh out of high school to start our first blues band. He and I have been friends since 1970. We still talk almost every day on the phone. He still plays locally in the DC area and he’s bringing an all-star group to open the show. It’s a special day for me to have him on the bill.
Grab your tickets to see Jimmy Thackery and his friends The Jimmy Cole Band rock out at the State Theatre on June 21! Tickets below!