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See where the goal is at and support Marion James funeral this Saturday at Marion James Queen of The Blues gofundme site.

New! Official press release update below regarding funeral:

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Well, there are a whole lot of things about Jimi that were peculiar about him that we laugh about. So really, Jimi he was kind. One of the habits, I guess it’s natural for a person to do it but, I noticed that he never did like to wear no shoes. He would just walk barefooted you know.” – Marion James on Jimi Hendrix, September 2015

The Nashville Bridge: Do you think you will get up and sing with Jack Pearson?

Oh yes, I mean, you know, if it comes to that, I think I can cover it.” – Marion James on upcoming Musician’s Reunion Show, September 2015

Nashville’s Queen of The Blues, Marion James once known as “House Rockin’ James” back in the day when Jefferson Street was jumping with Live Music passed away where she always called home: Nashville, Tennessee on December 31, 2015.

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Marion James, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marion James kept busy helping others through The Marion James Musicians Aid Society as well as planning events such as the Annual Musicians Reunion which featured legendary Nashville Blues and related genre Artists as well as featuring more recently established artists ranging from Alabama’s Debbie Bond to local guitar and vocal legend Regi Wooten.

The first tribute to Marion James to be released was written by Nate Rau at The Tennessean which covered a great overview of her 60 year career.  There are great quotes by those who worked the closest to her, David Flynn [current President of The Musicians Aid Society] which has helped in times of need, the older musicians that trace their lineage to Jefferson Street for close to twenty years and Lorenzo Washington [Jefferson Street Sound] who released her last official recording, “Back In The Day” whose lyrics were about the biggest passion in her life; to tell the “Historia” [Marion liked to use the Spanish version of the word]as she used to say of Jefferson Street and the importance of the Jefferson Street scene in the history of Nashville’s musical past .

She was the strongest ambassador of the great sounds that came out of North Nashville during the time that she recorded the top ten hit in 1965 “That’s My Man” written by her late husband, James “Buzzard” Stewart. The single was re-released on vinyl as a limited edition recently on Record Store Day in the United Kingdom with the original Excello label.

“Buzz” Stewart was known as a great horn arranger and putting together a great band that backed Marion. The band featured great young players, like Jimi Hendrix who stayed in Nashville after being discharged from Fort Campbell, Kentucky along with a young Billy Cox [Jimi Hendrix].

Upon hearing of Marion’s passing, Billy Cox remembered one time, not too long ago, when he was in Los Angeles and Marion’s name came up.  He said it was surprising how many players were in Marion’s band at one time or another back in the day including Billy Cox saying that Marion also took him under her wing as a young musician.

Billy Cox is featured in the photograph of Marion James’ band that is on the cover of Night Train To Nashville Volume Two 1945 -1970 which was taken in 1971 after Jim Hendrix had passed away.

Marion James was included in The Country Music Hall Of Fame exhibit “Night Train To Nashville” as well.

Marion James even recorded a song by Billy Cox, “Find Out (What You Want)” for Nashville label K&J Records.

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Marion James at 30th Annual Musicians Reunion and Benefit, photo- Brad Hardisty

Marion James had a story about every great musician that set foot on Jefferson Street. One time she talked about riding with her girlfriend in the back of Arthur Gunter’s [“Baby Let’s Play House”] big car that he kept shined up for many years after receiving the royalties from Elvis Presley’s recording of his song which he had originally released on Nashville’s Excello records. She described how you had to keep your feet up since you could see the road through the rusted-out floor boards.

In recent years, Marion James had released recordings in the United Sates and Italy, most recently Northside Soul [Ellersoul Records] was recognized as one of the greatest blues recordings to come out in 2012.

While continuing her Musicians Awards show as well as the Musician’s Reunion, Marion was currently fundraising to erect a statue of Jim Hendrix outside the current Elks Lodge on Jefferson Street which was once The Baron Club, sight of the infamous guitar dual instigated by Jimi [Jimmy back then] Hendrix versus Johnny Jones who was headlining the club. During that fateful night, by all accounts, Johnny Jones got the best of Jimi but that was way before his days in New York City or London.

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Marion James, “Nashville’s Queen of the Blues” sings “24 Hours A Day” at Metro 50th Concert, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marion James last large stage performance was to over ten thousand fans as one of the headliners at the Nashville Metro 50th celebration outdoor concert which also included Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush and Del McCoury.

Marion became well known not only as a performer and recording artist but a songwriter and over the last two years she had been working on a gospel song which she hoped to include on a future full length recording.

Marion also hoped to one day return to the road in Italy where she had fond memories of performing in the past.

Marion James funeral will take place where her heart was at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, 2708 Jefferson St, Nashville, TN 37208 next to the Elks Lodge where her committee had been working tirelessly with support from the community to enshrine the Jimi Hendrix Nashville legacy this Saturday, January 9th 2016 at 11:00 AM.

A Marion James gofundme page has been established by current President of The Marion James Musicians Aid Society, David Flynn to help with the proceeding while longtime friend and music entrepreneur, Lorenzo Washington [Jefferson Street Sound] is working with Marion’s family members to make sure that all the details are complete that Marion had asked for.

UPDATE Jan. 5. 2015:

Contacts:

David Flynn davidflynn10@yahoo.com

Funeral services for Marion James, Nashville’s “Queen of the Blues,” will be held this Saturday. At 10 a.m. a horse-drawn carriage will convey her casket from Smith Brothers Funeral Directors, 706 Monroe Street, to the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, 2708 Jefferson Street.  A one hour visitation at the church featuring music will begin at 11 a.m. and the service will start at noon.  Several ministers and a series of speakers will celebrate the life of Ms. James.  She died of a massive stroke on December 31, 2015.

Marion James, 81, was officially declared “Queen of the Blues” by the Nashville mayor’s office last September after a lifetime of blues music and of helping others. She had a national top-ten hit, “That’s My Man”, in 1966, and recorded a number of CD’s over the years including Northside Soul released in 2012.  Jimi Hendrix got his professional start as a member of her band.  Ms. James founded the Marion James Musicians Aid Society, which for decades has helped musicians in need.  Her Musicians Reunion, a fundraising all-day blues festival, celebrated its 32nd year in 2015.

A gofundme account has been set up for those who want to help with her funeral expenses. The link is:  https://www.gofundme.com/marionjames .

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    Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

    Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

 

 

 

 

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Marion James also talks about music back in the day and Jimi Hendrix.

Marion James,

Marion James, “Nashville’s Queen of the Blues” sings “24 Hours A Day” at Metro 50th Concert, photo – Brad Hardisty

This Sunday, September 6th, will mark the 32nd Annual Musician’s Reunion at The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printers Alley. Nearly a full day event, music will be starting at 3pm with the doors opening 30 minutes early. This year there will be over 20 Artists from Nashville’s storied past Jefferson Street scene to current up and coming Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel and Soul.

Featured Artists will be recently signed nationally known Nashville act The Andy T Nick Nixon Band [Alligator Records] as well as local favorite Jack Pearson and many others.

Marion James - Nashville's Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

The first Musician’s Reunion show that celebrated the heyday of the Jefferson Street Sound and honored those that had passed away during the year was so popular the first time that it has become an annual event.Marion James “Nashville’s Queen Of The Blues” spearheads the event with the support of the Nashville Blues Music Community. Marion James is known for having Jimi Hendrix in her backing band back in the day as well as the top ten hit “That’s My Man” [Excello]. That song was re-released on 7 inch vinyl with the original Excello label on Record Store Day in 2014 in England and sold out quick. Copies can be found occasionally through Ebay as well as all of Marion James catalog .

marion James Hound DogMarion James went on to release a couple more singles with songs written by Larry Lee [Jimi Hendrix – Gypsys, Suns and Rainbows] who performed with Jimi at Woodstock as well as long time Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox who also worked with Marion back in the day.

Marion James thats my manMarion has recorded a string of CD’s over the last two decades and continues to perform at special events around Nashville. Marion discussed a little of this and a little of that with The Nashville Bridge.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How many years have you done the Annual Musicians Reunion Show?

Marion James: This is the 32nd.

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: What was your favorite one that you did, what year?

MJ: Well, my favorite one was the first one.

TNB: What drives you to put these shows together?

MJ: I’m just used to it. I’ve been in show business for practically all my life. My husband [Buzz Stewart], he was a Musician and also an Arranger. So, it inspired me to go on to sing in the music field.

TNB: How many records did you actually have out? Has it been three singles and several albums in the last ten or twenty years?

Marion James find out what you wantMJ: Yeah, about three singles. The rest of them were CD’s. Not records.

TNB: What are your favorite songs to sing right now?

MJ: There is one of them that I am looking forward to recording again before this year’s out. It’s one of my friends who has been into the music for a long, long time. He sung this song and it was a hit called “I Need your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John. I really like that tune.

TNB: Little Willie John, cool! You’ll have some originals as well that you are working on?

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yes, I have. I’ve got two songs that I have wrote.

TNB: What’s been your favorite time, musically, in Nashville? Do you like it now or did you prefer it back in the 60’s or 70’s?

MJ: I liked the 60’s and the 70’s. If you are speaking of music, some of these songs that they’re singing now, they are getting’ away with a lot. I mean, back in the day we had to sing the melody right and the songs tell a story. But nowadays, you got a few that will get up and take one line and sing it one line all the way through and get away with it. But, back in the day we didn’t do that. We sung our songs and we played our music.

TNB: Back in the day, I know that’s a theme that brings back to memory the Jefferson Street scene. You also recorded a song called “Back In The Day” a couple of years ago. Do you remember how it was when there were a lot of clubs and a lot of things were going on?

MJ: Yes, it was very much active. You had a lot of musicians and there had been a lot of vocalists that was doin’ it at that time.

TNB: You could probably go see somebody play live about every night back then.

Debbie Bond, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yeah, they had a club just about every other block on Jefferson Street back in the day. They had a different act in each club. You went in and you really enjoyed it because it wasn’t the same thing all the time. So, if you go out on the weekend and say “Well, I’m goin’ clubbin’,” you could start from 6th and Jefferson all the way out to 31st in Centennial which was a Dinner Club. There was a different act all the way.

TNB: Wow. What were some of the big names that you really liked listening to?

MJ: There was Little Richard, Otis Redding and Hank Crawford was going to school at Tennessee State University. On Sunday, Hank would have the jam session at 28th and Jefferson in a little Restaurant there they called Hayes Rendezvous and all the students would go there at three o clock on Sunday and they would have a jam. All the musicians would come in and play. There was a musician, Charlie Dungers, that would play up and down Jefferson Street and he was great. He went away from here for a while and he was playing all over Europe and then he decided to come back home and play his music and also he taught at Tennessee State University. I think it was strange he was still teachin’.

TNB: I remember now that you’ve told me about Jimi Hendrix playing with your band back then for a while. Do you have any funny stories that you remember?

MJ: Well there are a whole lot of things about Jimi that were peculiar about him that we laugh about. So really, Jimi he was kind. One of the habits, I guess it’s natural for a person to do it but, I noticed that he never did like to wear no shoes. He would just walk barefooted you know.

TNB: I’d heard that he carried his guitar around either without a case or in a paper bag or something. He didn’t ever have a guitar case.

marion james night trainMJ: Yeah, yeah, he did odd things like that. He really did, you know. Like I said, he was a nice guy, very nice to go around with also. He was on the quiet side. I don’t know how you would say it but he never was a person that was always on a run all the time. He was just calm and quiet, you know.

TNB: Now when he got on stage though he kind of commanded the stage quite a bit, didn’t he?

MJ: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, he did.

TNB: He liked to show off a little bit I guess.

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo - Brad Hardisty

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: He loved to show off and play that guitar. He came up with that act with trying to play the guitar with his mouth and all like that. He was a pretty good showman, you know.

TNB: Who are you looking forward to playing at the Musician’s Reunion show that is coming up?

MJ: I’m looking at Jack Pearson and Scott Holt. They are my two favorites when it comes to playing guitar. Jack Pearson was on one of my CD’s that I recorded. He did a marvelous job.

TNB: Do you think you will get up and sing with Jack Pearson?

Courtesy Marion James

Courtesy Marion James

MJ: Oh yes, I mean, you know, if it comes to that, I think I can cover it.

  • Brad Hardisty Nashville, TN

The new Jimi Hendrix Anthology West Coast Seattle Boy bonus DVD Voodoo Child answers a lot of questions about Jimi’s time in Nashville, which for the most part is an unknown piece of the puzzle.  Jimi not only formed his first band The King Kasuals with Billy Cox on Bass  while in Nashville but it was here that he cut his teeth with some of the best Rhythm and Blues acts of the day.

Jimi Hendrix at Ft. Campbell, KY

The first step to Nashville for the Seattle, Washington native was joining the Military. “I was 18. I figured I would have to go into the Army sooner or later, so I walked into the first recruiting office I saw and volunteered. I wanted to get everything over with before I got into music as a career so they wouldn’t call me up in the middle of something that might be happening. “

Jimi wasn’t able to sign up as a musician because he had no formal musical training so he joined the most elite outfit he could. The 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He wrote home “Well Dad, here I am exactly where I wanted to go in the 101st Airborne.”

Young Jimi with Red Danelectro

Jimi wanted to succeed for the sake of his family name as a member of the Screaming Eagles in the U.S. Army. One of the first requests home was to send his guitar, “P.S. Please send my guitar as soon as you can. I really need it now.”

The one thing that Jimi gave up when he went into the military was about to become what he always wanted; music would become the center focus of his life. He was in the military for thirteen months when he got his ankle caught in a sky hook and he broke it. He had become frustrated with the military life and the inability to play music and decided to tell them he hurt his back too. They let him out,  July 2, 1962, just prior to the troop increase in Vietnam.

Photo Date 1963, probably at Del Morocco, Jimmy (Jimi) ,notice Epiphone Coronet, Silvertone Amp, Billy Cox, 3rd down, Nice Fender Jazz Bass, Fender Amp. Jimi was notorious for letting his stuff go into hawk.

Jimi became more serious about the guitar while still in the Army and decided to head south of Kentucky a few short miles to Nashville to see if he could earn money playing the guitar.  He moved into a housing development during the civil rights movement.  In fact he was arrested once along with Billy Cox in 1962. “Every Sunday we would go down to watch the race riots. We took a picnic basket because they wouldn’t serve us in the restaurant…Sometimes if there was a good movie on Sunday there wouldn’t be any race riots.”

The Bonnevilles, 1962, Clarksville, TN at The Pink Poodle just prior to move to Nashville.

Ft. Campbell had been where Jimi had become friends with  Billy Cox, a Bass player born in West Virginia, raised in Pittsburg, PA who also settled into Nashville for the music opportunities.

Together. they formed The King Kasuals. The band played at clubs like the Del Morocco on Jefferson Street as well as gigs on Printers Alley. Jimi did get a little studio time, but, engineers found him too experimental when he got to recording as a back up musician and Jimi had a hard time making some extra money as a studio musician.

Mid-60’s Nashville Civil Rights March

Hendrix waited for his Army buddy and bassist Billy Cox to get out and together they came down the road to Nashville to form their first band – King Kasuals. King Kasuals became the house band of the now-gone Club Del Morocco (the owner of which ended up bailing the two out of jail after a Civil Rights demonstration downtown!). Hendrix played at so many of the clubs in Printers Alley and along Jefferson Street – places where the likes of Etta James and James Brown were performing. Hendrix took his guitar everywhere in Nashville – on the bus, to the store, on a walk. Nashville is where he really developed his guitar playing. He said so himself: “That’s where I learned to play really…Nashville.” – 365nashville.com

“Hendrix credits Nashville as the place that he really learned how to play guitar. That still freaks out most people who think of Nashville as just country music,” says Joe Chambers, the founder of the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Chambers recounts how in 1962 Hendrix wound up at the army base at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and met fellow musician Billy Cox. They became fast friends and a short time after moved to Nashville, some 60 miles away, and lived together on Jefferson Street, above a beauty shop called Joyce’s House of Glamour.

“I actually saw Jimi Hendrix one night at Printer’s Alley. He was in his private’s uniform,” says Norbert Putnam, a musician, studio owner and producer with a long list of credits in Nashville.

Hendrix soaked up the style of the blues players in the bars along Jefferson Street. “You gotta be pretty good to get their attention,” Chambers recalls his friend Billy Cox saying. “Jimi went to sleep with his guitar on, woke up with it on, walked out the door with it, and went to the movie theater with it.”

Jimi with Buddy and Stacey “Shotgun” Nashville TV Taping

Some of the first video footage ever shot of Hendrix was on Nashville’s WLAC Channel 5 television show Night Train. You can see him on a 1965 clip backing up Buddy & Stacy, looking freaky and sliding his hand over the front of his guitar’s neck. Chambers says Hendrix and Cox played the clubs on Jefferson as well as the club circuit from Murfreesboro to Tullahoma. – From Rock In The Country: Nashville’s Secret History By Davis Inman 12/17/2010, American Songwriter

King Kasuals, Jimi, Billy

Jimi left Nashville to be near his Grandmother in Vancouver in December of 1962 and played with a band called Bobbie Taylor and The Vancouvers, that featured Tommy Chong of comedy team, Cheech & Chong, until heading back to the south in the spring of 1963.

The gigs continued with Billy Cox and the band. Jimi continued developing his chops and playing wherever and whenever he could.

Jimi Hendrix did some uncredited session work while in Nashville and also played for current “Nashville’s Queen of The Blues” Marion James and Roscoe Shelton before leaving Nashville. Billy Cox also played bass for Marion James who still resides in Nashville and is signed to Ellersoul Records.

Billy Cox wrote two songs for Frank Howard & The Commanders and both Billy and Jimi played on the sessions for “I’m So Glad” and “I’m Sorry For You” during those Nashville days.

Billy Cox stated in a Nashville Scene interview in 2010 that he is in the process of writing a book about his time with Jimi Hendrix in Nashville; nobody could tell the story better than Billy and he hopes to clarify between myth and legend what happened in those early times.

Jimi in Nashville

Imperials drummer Freeman Brown played with Hendrix while he was in Nashville. “There used to be a theater called the Ritz Theater down on Jefferson Street, it was there for the longest. We went to a show one day and Jimi carried his guitar in a shopping bag. He always kept his guitar with him. And every time he would just play, just play, just play; it was kind of like having a little baby to him.” “It was like a third arm, you know. And like he (Freeman) said, I saw him on a bus with it one day, you know, in a shopping bag, in a plastic bag, whatever. That’s the way he was. It was not unusual at all. Not usual at all,” confirms George Yates.

Larry Lee, 2nd guitar with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

“Jimi and I, being left-handed guitar players, just talked. We hit it off real smooth,” Yates recalls. “Everybody thought we were brothers. We were skinny, very young, and I guess, women chased us, you know. We played together one time. It was with a group called The Bonnevilles, and I believe Jimi named the group. His manager had us on the road one night, supposedly the three best guitar players in town- me, Jimi, and Larry Lee from Memphis (The same Larry Lee that played with Jimi at Woodstock). The people just went crazy because we were all doing crazy acts, you know, guitar behind the head, biting it with the teeth, falling on my knees, and I have bad knees because of it today. But Jimi was the showman. We were admirers of each other, you know.” – Night Train To Nashville by Tina Robin

It was at this time he met a promoter named Gorgeous George, who got him on as a touring guitarist. “The idea of playing guitar with my teeth came to me in a town in Tennessee.  Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. Those people were really hard to please.“

The earliest known video of Jimi Hendrix was playing “Shotgun” with Buddy and Stacey  at a Nashville television studio in May 1965.

It was a Soul package that came into Nashville featuring Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, BB King and Chuck Jackson that kick started his professional career. “I got a little job playing in the backup band.  I learned a lot playing behind all those names every night.”

Jimi’s star across from Country Music Hall of Fame

He went on a 35 day tour covering most all of the south, the Seattle boy was now in the thick of a tour that took him to all parts of the country.  He sent a postcard “Dear Dad, just a few words to let you know I made it to South Carolina. Tell everybody “Hello” with love, Jimmy”

Jimi with The Isley Brothers

While in New York, he entered an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater and won $25 after taking first place.  It was there in New York that The Isley Brothers asked him to stay and play.  He played with them for a while but he was ready to break out of being in the back up position and desired to direct his own career.  He left The Isley Brothers when they made it back to Nashville on a tour stop.

He then joined a band that took him to Atlanta, Georgia where he met Little Richard and was asked to join his band. “Dearest Dad, I received your letter while I was in Atlanta. I’m playing with Little Richard now. We’re going toward the West Coast. We’re in Louisiana now. But my address will be in Los Angeles. “

Jimi with Little Richard

He only played with Little Richard for five months and left after not getting paid for a period of five and a half weeks.  He was ready for a change after the Little Richard stint. “I couldn’t imagine myself for the rest of my life in a shiny Mohair suit with patent leather shoes and a patent leather hairdo to match. “

“I didn’t hear any guitar players doing anything new.  I was bored out of my mind. I wanted my own scene making my own music. I was starting to see you could create a whole new world with the electric guitar because there isn’t a sound like it. “

Curtis Knight and The Squires

He heard music in his mind that he wanted to do but he knew it was going to be hard to find people to do it with.  “I went back to New York and played with this Rhythm and Blues group called Curtis Knight and The Squires. I also played with King Curtis and Joey Dee. “

It was after this period of time in Nashville, travelling with some of the greatest artists of the day that he became what the world knows as Jimi Hendrix. Chas Chandler, bassist for The Animalswas invited, by Keith Richards girlfriend at the time, Linda Keith (she also “loaned” Jimi one of Keith Richard’s guitars to Jimi), to see him play with his band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames and that is where the usual story of Jimi Hendrix begins.

Band of Gypsies : Billy Cox, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, who had kept on Jimi for some time to get their own band going.

Although it may have been a short couple of years, his friend Billy Cox would rejoin him with Buddy Miles as Band of Gypsys and they recorded some of the funkiest three piece soul ever done. Billy would be with him at Woodstock and record and perform as a member of his band until he passed away. Billy still lives in Nashville.

Jimi went through many transitions in life, moving several times and being called by many different names, first, Johnny than James, “Buster”, Jimmy, with many knicknames along the way including “Chop Suey” and finally Jimi. Through all the changes, Jimi managed to be very positive as his guitar was like a magic carpet guiding him on his travels.

If Jimi had not joined the Army and started his journey through the south, his story might not have been what it became.  By doing what other great guitarists do, be it Country or otherwise and joining the Nashville scene and becoming a touring musician he accelerated his abilities quickly and became the Voodoo Child with a mojo hand made of gold becoming the most important guitarist of his day, a great songwriter and  the highest paid rock showman of his time.

Many of the quotes that are by Jimi Hendrix, were read by Bootsy Collins and are featured in the Documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child.

” Music is the most important thing. I’m thinking of my future. There has to be something new, and I want to be a part of it. I want to lead an orchestra with excellent musicians. I want to play music which draws pictures of the world and its space.” – Jimi Hendrx

Jimmy James and The Blue Flames

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com