Jim & Bob are Jimmy Willing and Dave Ramsey, proving that when two become one the musical sum is impressive indeed.
They spoke with The Echo about their musical raison d’être in the leadup to Popcrimes at the Billindugel Hotel this Saturday.
When you are alone, and feeling a bit lonesome and want some good man music, what’s your go-to?
Jim: Jellyroll Morton
Bob: I usually wrap my ears around some Françoise Hardy records; it’s impossible to feel lonesome in her company. Does that count as man music? I guess so, for what complements a man better than a woman…
Favourite Hank Williams song?
Jim: Lovesick Blues. (He sang it but I don’t think he wrote it.)
Bob: I was about to say Lost Highway, but that’s a Leon Payne song, so I’ll say Weary Blues From Waitin’ instead.
Can you describe each other for me in just seven words (Jimmy describe Davey and vice versa)?
Jim: Honourable, forthright, diplomatic, talented, professional, affable, and a good mate.
Bob: Long, lanky, lean, loquacious, learned and loyal legend.
What surprises you about each other?
Jim: To this day it’s Bob’s huge learning curve. He’s a fine musician but he keeps getting better. I often look over at him onstage and think, ‘How the *&%$ does he get those sounds?’
Bob: I’m surprised by how surprised Jimmy acts whenever I say something outrageous. He’s got me marked down as the button-down, studious and nerdy archivist type, which I am to a degree, but I have a wild side too. I love the look of amused shock I get from Jimmy every time I bust out of that expected mould, which happens pretty much every time we have a conversation.
How did you come to be a two-hander?
Jim: We were turning down work that was not suitable for The Real Gone Hick-Ups but would suit a couple of boys in the corner so it became a no-brainer: form a new act and pick up another pay cheque.
What kind of feel does Jim & Bob go for that is different from your other work?
Jim: It’s a stripped-down affair, it’s a less-is-more equation, not a hooty tooty rock’n’roll show but an intimate encounter with songs where you can hear every word.
Bob: For us it’s about letting the songs shine. When doing stripped-down acoustic arrangements you have to rely on strong songs with great lyrics and fetching melodies, so we tailor our repertoire to that sensibility. Sure, ten-minute-feedback solos are fun, but there’s a time and a place for everything.
What’s your favourite thing to do to an audience?
Jim: Entertain them.
Bob: Basically to turn them on. It could be turning them on to new ideas, new sounds, new feelings, making them laugh or cry. Or it could be literally moistening their underpants. It’s all good fun.
How do you write songs? Do you write together?
Jim: Songs ferment and grow in my head. We do write together but we should do it more.
Bob: I tend to write songs randomly, without a plan. That’s probably why I don’t usually write more than a couple per year. Jimmy often comes to me with a finished song in his head, and just needs someone to transform the melody in his head into guitar chords. Occasionally he’ll have lyrics that need music, so I’ll see if I have any riffs that fit.
What instrument can’t you play that you wish you could?
Jim: The double bass
Bob: I’d really like to be able to blow the yidaki.
Biggest musical regret?
Jim: Not being able to tour and take up the offers of recording contracts as I was a single father for much of my adult life. That being said, I’m not dead yet and I’m sure I would have had even bigger regrets if I had walked out on my kids.
Bob: Non, je ne regrette rien.
Proudest musical moment?
Jim: Sitting in the Sydney Opera House and hearing Kate Kelly (co-written with Tim Freedman) performed by The Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Bob: I rewrote an old Woody Guthrie song (based on an older song that he had rewritten) as an anti-fracking blockade song, and after sharing it on the internet some North American folk musicians found it and made it part of their repertoire. They sent me a copy of their version; I was pretty stoked about that.
How would you sum up life as a musician?
Jim: Not for the faint of heart.
Bob: There’s a fair bit of suffering for your art. You don’t do it unless you have a real passion and drive to do it. Unless of course you just like making music at home for fun, then it’s just pure joy, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
What’s your pop crime? Have you ever stolen a riff, plagiarised a lyric…?
Jim: I have influences and like all good artists I’m a cultural thief but what I take I kick a hole in and fashion it into my own.
Bob: I don’t think I’ve ever played a note that hasn’t been played before. It’s a fair cop. But I think the real crime is when people start getting litigious about who stole what riff. The case of The Land Down Under versus Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree still bugs me – how the hell did they ever get away with that!
What should we expect for your show at Billinudgel Hotel for Pop Crimes?
Jim: A swagful of songs that will amuse, shock, provoke and delight.
Bob: That depends on what you plan to ingest before the show. But regardless of that it is likely that you will be left feeling strangely entertained.
PopCrimes presents a program of gothic and desert blues, outlaw country, garage punk, folk and rock’n’roll at the Billinudgel Hotel with a main-stage lineup that includes Sacred Shrines and Black Sun from Brisbane. Along with The Delicates, Rhyece O’Neill Band, Donny Love, Jim & Bob and Jez Mead and the Golden Mile. With rock’n’roll DJs Steview Starz and Nick Taylor, this is an event that welcomes people from all walks of life and all ages to let their hair down and enjoy some good honest music.
The best thing about Popcrimes is that it is FREE ENTRY.
At the Billinudgel Hotel on Saturday from 2pm till late.
Check out the website www.popcrimesfestival.com.