By George V. Nostrand
Musician Jimy Graham’s been around the block, and around the world, playing everything from rock and blues to R & B and soul. Last time he was in Vermont, he was traveling with a reggae band, Pablo Moses, when they performed at one of the first reggae fests in Burlington.
But as he now says, he’s come home to the blues. And it seems to be working out well for him.
Over the years, Graham has lived in L.A., New York City, Jamaica and Japan — to name a few places. He now resides in upstate New York. Recently, he performed and was recognized at the Capital City Original Music awards at Capital Repertory Theatre (known as The Rep) in Albany. This Thursday, he will be in New York City performing at a summer series at the World Trade Center. And the next day, he will be here, performing in Rutland, Vermont at the Unitarian Universalist Church, on West Street, at 7:30 p.m.
The Reader caught up with Jimy Graham on the phone for an interview and asked him about the status of the blues today and his role as a blues artist.
Reader: Many of today’s blues artists are concerned about the future of the blues. Are you concerned?
Graham: I am concerned, but I’m optimistic. Someone will always come along — young, old, men, women — someone magical to carry the torch. It’s all a process. It goes in ebbs and flows. At this point it seems there is an ebb, but there will be a flow. It may not look or sound the same, but it will continue.
Reader: Are the blues still relevant today?
Graham: Universal things will always be relevant, no matter the time or age. The blues is universal and is the soul of the universe…The stories are still relevant. It doesn’t change from 1962 to 1992 to 2062. There’s a theme, like country music, and the story stays the same, which makes it both real and relevant.
Reader: You seem like a pretty optimistic guy for someone who has the blues…
Graham: (laughs) I’m not into dooms days or end-of-days stuff. There are no end days, because there was no beginning…I found my home in the blues. It took a while, and a lot of Jack Daniels, to get here, (laughs). But it hit me one day — the universe said, “go home,” and I moved home to stay.
I’m like the prodigal blues man. I ventured out like Siddhartha or Buddha — we all have to go out and find ourselves to come home.
Reader: You’ve likely seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years…
Graham: Not just the face (of the industry), but down to the guts — everything has changed. It’s always been ruthless and cut-throat, but online it’s all these business people, smart people, who specialize in ripping everybody off. It’s hurting the multimillion-dollar sellers — guys like you and I don’t stand a chance.
It has forced everyone out in the streets. You can see anyone now. Everyone has to get out of their houses and studios and work their asses off to make a living. Everyone back on the stage and traveling in tour buses, vans or cars. I’ll work anywhere I can get it out there.
Many people have given up and are doing construction or other jobs. God bless people like Buddy Guy and others who are out there keeping it alive.
Reader: But you’re still optimistic and enthusiastic?
Graham: Absolutely! There will always be new things to inspire more songs and some things will never change and need to be sung about as well. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I love this planet — the food, the art, the people. I’m gonna’ stick around for a while.
Check it out
Jimy Graham will be performing at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 17 West St., Rutland, Friday, June 23. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 7:30 p.m. $15 at the door. For more on Jimy Graham, including video clips and links, visit: www.rutlandreader.com/