Winter Park / Live Music: Musical icon helps bring in the New Year
December 28, 2007
The New yYear already has promise as 2008 begins with well-known musician Jimmy Hall playing on stage in Winter Park.The Grand Theatre Company is hosting the show in a Happy Blue Year Celebration on New Year’s Eve. Doors open at 7 p.m. with music at 9 p.m.John Catt, founding board member of the Grand County Blues Society, said they started out with only 80 tickets; so those patrons interested in catching the show are encouraged to get a move on it. This show is five years in the making, he said. Jimmy Hall is a landmark show for us.Ever since the first show the Blues Society put on at Smokin’ Moe’s, when someone handed Catt a cassette featuring Hall and Jimmy Thackery, he admits he has been enthralled with Hall’s talents. Almost since the beginning (of the Blues Society) I’ve been trying to get him to play up here, he said. As luck would have it, Catt and Hall, who have some mutual friends, continued to run into one another and Hall was finally able to oblige.He’s a very busy man, Catt said, adding that we get to see Hall while he’s on somewhat of a vacation. Hall said the plans all came together as if it was meant to be and on a lot of faith. Hall had already been invited to spend the holidays in Colorado and started talking about putting together a show while he was out here. With inspirations from soul music, R&B-based early English rock, his singing is just one of the great joys in my life, Hall said. I always called it rock ‘n’ soul, rhythm ‘n’ roll.A Southern boy through and through, Hall was born and raised in Alabama. Country influence is the deep current in all his music. He’s been that way for too long to change, and who would want him to? I feel very fortunate to get to do it, Hall said.At the age of 20, he and new band Wet Willie shared the studio and stage with The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Grand Funk Railroad. We were ahead of our time, Hall said about some of the new music they were playing back then, which incorporated country rock and blues.Hall and the band helped mold the Southern rock genre, scoring major radio success with Top 10 song Keep on Smiling and gaining the reputation as one of the hardest working bands on the road. In those Wet Willie days, Hall recalls good times and good shows in Colorado and said he looks forward to renew a friendship with the area.In 1980 Hall recorded the hit single I’m Happy That Love Has Found You, then went on to work with Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, and Chuck Leavell in the Betts, Hall, Leavell & Trucks band. Shortly after that he was nominated for a Grammy for best male vocalist in 1986 for his vocals on Brit rocker Jeff Beck’s album Flash.After Hall moved to Nashville, helping raise his three sons who are also musicians, he worked as band leader, vocalist, saxophonist, and harmonica player for Hank Williams, Jr. (and still does). He also formed the Prisoners of Love with top Nashville musicians and recorded a CD, Rendezvous. Gregg Allman later recorded one of the album’s tunes, Rendezvous with the Blues, which Hall wrote.His latest album is Build Your Own Fire, a well-received tribute to Muscle Shoals, which was released this past spring. Muscle Shoals was the hot bed of soul music, Hall explained – a little pocket of studios and musicians where all of a sudden all this good music started to come out of.Today, Hall serves as frontman for a new southern rock band called Deep South.New Year’s will be rockin’, Catt said. This guy is an icon. I don’t think that there’s anyone like him. I doubt you could even come up with five touring acts right now that he hasn’t played with.For the New Year’s show, the GCBS has pulled together what Catt calls a power trio of local musicians to join Hall: Yaniv Salzberg on guitar, Mike Ray on drums and bassist Jeff Peterson from Mango Chutney.When asked if there’s any artist out there Hall would like to sit in with that he hasn’t yet, he said, A lot of my dreams have already come through. Working with Beck was a dream, and I’d love to work with Stevie Wonder. Susan Tedeschi is one of my favorite singers of all time and Jack White would be fun to work with.