When do musical influences metamorphose into a person’s own style? When does part-time life become a full-time commitment? When does a lifetime of musical experience bubble over into performance as rich as its sources? Ask Jimmy C. – he’s living proof that a man’s whole music is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Jimmy C’s eclectic, stick-wise drumming style results from years of layering. Jazz-fusion, dixie-cowboy, Philly doo-wop, Jersey shore sweat-bang; flavors of musical moments from 42 years of rock and roll history jump off the skins when Jimmy C. slams into gear.
The sixth kid of six kids, Jimmy was raised in the direct beam of 50’s TV radio personalities while Mom and Dad went on autopilot. His crib rocked to the patter of jacked-up radio jocks, and he grooved to the make-out music his older sibs used to make their moves with.
Syncopated clattering tap shoes may have put the beat in Jimmy’s “sole”; performing became a way of life after lessons opened up all those possibilities. Mom’s gift of a bongo drum (inspired by the admiring looks Cubby got from the rest of the Mouseketeers when he thumped out the beat on his traps) put Jimmy into the rhythm he’s kept since.
Picture this: four aspiring Philly adolescents in matching bad-ass, skin-tight, narrow tied suits harmonizing “Little Darlin'” in a dusty stairwell at the old junior high… one of them tapping time on a bongo head heated to a perfect pitch with a shiny, fuel-stinking Zippo. Yep… our boy Jimmy, layin’ down early influences.
Speaking of which… John Paul George and RINGO! Yeah, yeah, we know… the guy was only so-so as a drummer and not even as a singer. But Style?? Man, he had it, and any ambitious late-sixties rocker with a drum kit had better have lotsa jewelry on his hands, a droopy-eyed cool and HAIR! Jimmy C. and “The Effects” rode the Beatle-wave hard. They had the Liverpool sound, the cute moves, and even the logo on the side of the ’52 Buick ambulance they used for hauling equipment to gigs conscientiousy duplicated the lettering style of the Fab Four.
Fan clubs, a newsletter, a record deal with the publishers of Disco Scene mag – the boys were a small time success in a BIG way… ready to pop national any minute. Boston down to DC – frat parties were nuthin’ unless “The Effects” stirred it up. From UConn to the Philly Big Five, all the way down to Steel Pier in Atlantic City – the crazy co-eds and hipsters of all breeds followed their minor sky-rocket. My God… they made a music video before anyone even knew what that was! A huge, menacing roadie dragged amps and speakers around for them – an impressive sight in an era when big-time roadies had their own groupies.
On the road in the 70’s, payin’ dues, scanning the scene for that big break, California dreamin’… Jimmy C. a beach boy? Well, working your trade and learnin’ licks ain’t too bad in San Jose. Palm trees and sunshine knock the hell of out Atlantic coast gray. Back and forth… more bands… more gigs… new chops too. Try jazz fusion; that feels good!
Old sounds: opening for Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and their spin-off Sha-Na-Na. Hey, Ya wanna go to Hawaii to open for Elvin Bishop? Whoa. Is this a digression? Two paths in a yellow wood? O.K. Why not? Pack three days worth of clothes for a quick visit that turns permanent.
Now we’ll let the mix simmer a while. Let old Ravel and Hayden and Debussy provide back-up for that sweet steel-guitar island sound. Jimmy ponders his past and plans his musical future surrounded by the blue, blue Pacific swells. And he’s still collecting influences.