ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 13, 2002
Most blues-rock guitarists of note have tales to tell about the first time they heard the likes of Jimi Hendrix or Buddy Guy. But as a teenager growing up in Washington, D.C., Jimmy Thackery actually got to see both those legends perform live. A 17-year-old Thackery saw Guy play in a small church, and the gig had a huge effect on him, though not as big as that of seeing Hendrix’s first official show in the U.S.
“You suddenly realize that this is in fact show business,” relates Thackery from a Hartford, Connecticut, hotel. “It isn’t just muddling through the chords. I mean, this black guy in a funny suit and feather boa came out and lit his guitar on fire and I went, ‘Holy shit! What’s the deal?!’ It kind of changes your approach to the whole thing.”
While Hendrix and Guy were heavy influences, Thackery’s new We Got It CD—which he’ll showcase at a Yale show on June 27—pays tribute to a lesser-known guitarist and singer by the name of Eddie Hinton. An old friend of Thackery’s who died of a heart attack in ’95, Hinton was a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and wrote songs and played guitar on numerous albums by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and the Staple Singers.
“My wife had become completely enamoured with this compilation of Eddie Hinton demos, Dear Y’all,” notes Thackery, “and she wouldn’t take it out of the CD player. And finally, we were sittin’ around one night and I said, ‘You know, what might be fun would be to do a bunch of these tunes, and bring in the Cate Brothers’—who are kind of neighbours of ours, and the two most soulful guys on the planet.
“I was at the point where I had signed a new recording deal with Telarc,” he continues, “so then came the challenge of convincing the record company that this was a good idea. They were a little apprehensive, because they were signing what they called ‘a rip-snorting blues guitar player’, and they were a little worried that an album of blue-eyed–soul music might not incorporate that. But I assured them that that was not a concern.”