must for 21st century blues rock fans is the 2019 CD release of Friends
& Family by Kentucky based Jim Diamond Revue. The sound of
the 13 track album carries on the traditions of electric blues rock
bands like vintage Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker to UK blues
rockers Gary Moore and the vocals are reminiscent of Steve Winwood.
An excellent guitarist and singer-songwriter, Jim wrote the tunes
and his band sounds incredible. Over a dozen musicians back up Jim.
For guitar fans, Jim's cousins on guitar are Nick Mowery and Joe Litteral
while Hank Mowery sings and plays harp. Chris Herndon (band member)
sings as well and Jim and Chris split the vocals. Speaking about sharing
the vocal spotlight, Jim modestly explains, "Chris Herndon
is the golden throat. He is the one that sounds like Stevie Winwood!
I'm just a hack blues singer... He deserves the accolades for singing."
The album also features several bluesy instrumentals while the
horn section brings in a hefty dose of jazzy blues. A dynamic front
person, Jim cuts a veritable rug as he and his band work their way
through a 13 track, 78 minute set of foot tapping, hand clapping,
finger snapping originals. Music fans may want to pick up the Friends
& Family CD with its cool, ZZ Top inspired cover art with
informative liner notes by Jim Diamond. www.jimdiamondband.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Youre originally from Canada and you live in Bowling Green Kentucky.
What do you like best about living in Kentucky and can you compare
life in Canada with your life in the US? Its very close to Nashville,
so I guess you have the best of both worlds there. Tell about that
area of the south and the influence it has on your music?
Jim Diamond: I must say I am a proud citizen of the United
States of America as of 2019. But, Im a young Canadian lad at
heart. Things are similar in the States as they are in Canada. I tell
folks here all the time, the only difference between me and
you; is that you have that real cool accent! I am influenced
less by geography and more by the inhabitants and my surroundings.
I write what I know
Most of the time I write about what I observe or consider. Nashville;
definitely Music City! So much of all genres. When we
moved to this area, North Nashville I call it, it had more, shall
rural sensibilities! Now, its a destination city
for so much. When we go downtown its a wash of music - all manners,
players, ages, and instruments. In fact, there are folk on the corners
busking that makes me think, Wow, I need to go home and sell
all my stuff! So, their dedication is a motivator for my
mwe3: Tell us about writing and recording the Friends &
Family album. Would you describe it as modern day blues-rock,
jump blues or R&B - or all of the above? Your band that you formed
in 1990, Groove Syndicate is featured yet on the cover you credit
the new album to the Jim Diamond Revue. Is there a difference between
the two bands or is one an extension of the other?
Jim Diamond: As you suggested all of the above. My influences
come from all those so-called blues categories. I think its
important to the show and experience that all styles are offered up!
Its super fun for the band, and for the audience, I hope! I
draw on what Ive learned from all the musicians I listen to
and add a dash of my sensibilities, and as they say in the States
The title Jim Diamond Revue is born out of the old Rhythm & Blues
Tours, which were called Revues! So, we brought in three
of our cousins - actually Beths 1st cousins Hank Mowery (harp
/ vocals), Joe Litteral (guitar), and Nick Mowery (guitar) all are
world class players. Both of our families are very musical! Beths
has the edge on quantity and ability though! Also, ex-Jim Diamond
member and sax player Ray Warfield, old pal Ryan Stiles on bari /
tenor sax, who auditioned with the band in 1997! Now 25 years later
hes on this record.
three great Louisville, Kentucky keyboard standouts; Rob Brown, Ron
Wurtele, and Bob Ramsey. Bob toured with us twice for; Blues To
Bop in Lugano, Switzerland. Hes a monster of a player, writer
and arranger. The core band is still: Beth (drums), Mark Wagner (bass)
Chris Herndon (vocals / guitar) Jon (Reese) Pleasant (keys), and Joe
(Big Bones Mississippi) DiGiuseppe. We always wanted to do something
with our family and friends so thats how it came about. Now
its an error! That we couldnt undo. It
should have been; Jim Diamond & The Groove Syndicate Revue
Family & Friends. But, Cest la vie!
mwe3: The Friends & Family album is a great display
of the blues. You make it so diverse, so its more a mix of R&B,
blues, rock and instrumentals. Musically speaking, is there strength
Jim Diamond: I believe exactly that! There is strength in diversity.
As mentioned earlier, that diversity, in my mind, keeps everyone interested!
Band, audience, promoters, etc. Additionally, Im influenced
by so much different music that it spills over into the way I write.
Always keep your mind open to differing mashups!
mwe3: You praise Chris Herndon for his vocals on the Friends
& Family album. In your estimation what tracks does Chris
stand out on as a vocalist and a composer as well? How and when did
you meet Chris and the other core members of the Groove Syndicate
and when did the band come together?
Jim Diamond: Chris is an awesome singer and most importantly;
he gets the way that I write! When I write, I dont always hear
my voice singing the songs. Chris is a standout on every song he sings!
Pick any of them Dog House, Better Way,
See The Light, Hot For You, and his tune;
Rock and Roll All Over You! They are realized through
his singing! He does them justice. Interestingly, like Ryan Stiles,
Chris auditioned as a brass player in 1997 while in college. And now,
20 + plus years later, hes the Golden Throat! How cool is that?
Jon Pleasant began his tour with us in 1997 when we first moved to
Kentucky. Hes came and gone a couple of times. Always finding
his way back. Mark Wagner contacted us from an ad he saw and an online
video in 2012 and fit right in! Him and Beth are one badass rhythm
section. And finally, Big Bones Mississippi Joe DiGiuseppe
joined way back in 1999 when he found a cassette of ours on the floor
of a truck he was buying! Im not making this up.
You wrote all the music on Friends & Family. Where do you
get your ideas from as a songwriter, lyricist and bandleader? Who
does the production and arranging on the Friends & Family
Jim Diamond: Other than Rock and Roll All Over You,
Chris song, I wrote and arranged everything. Ray Warfield and
I wrote the horn parts. I would tell Ray what I heard in my head,
and he would put it to the paper charts. I draw on experiences, surroundings,
and social climate for lyrical ideas. It was produced by me and Steve
Catfish Wilson. Steve mixed the record as well. He has a studio called
RTR (Raise The Roof) in Louisville. Steve is The Kentucky Headhunters
front of the house engineer for the last 30-ish years. He was also
Stevie Ray Vaughans last amp tech before the accident that shook
the world. His sensibilities cannot be understated. If it sounds great,
its because of him.
mwe3: Beth plays some excellent sounding drums on Friends
& Family. How did you meet Beth and how would you describe
Beths influence on you and your songwriting and her influence
on the band sound?
Jim Diamond: Beth is an incredible drummer! That cannot be
said enough! And, she gets me
everything I play, she insightfully
knows where to go, and where Im going! We have really, really,
really evolved and got better over the years! We met at a blues jam
in Cincinnati in 1994. She was tasked at running a cross-town rival
blues jam at Lucilles to the one I was running in Northern Kentucky
at the Mansion Hill Tavern. Of course, mine was the mack-daddy!
Truthfully, it was most known, Lucilles was a fledgling. She
was a rookie at running a jam; in fact it was her first! So I went
to see, maybe spy (haha) on how Lucilles was going
her struggling and offered up my help, as an olive branch.
Jams are formed by groups of musicians; a drummer, bass player couple
of guitar players, maybe a horn or two, and a singer. This particular
night there were very few singers, so I jumped in to sing some songs
more than a few
Then, when it was my turn, from the list, as
a guitar player / singer to go, I jumped up on stage, ready to play
and she said, hey what are you doing, you had your three
songs! I was flabbergasted! I stammered and said, what
do you mean? I was helping you because you had no singers!
She said, Sorry! I said, Wait a minute,
do you know who I am? Not in am arrogant way, more in a
. . hey, I run the biggest, baddest blues jam in the area
way. Sadly, thats NOT how it came across! Ooooops. Hahahahaha!!
I looked like an asshole! Deservedly so
In my defense, when
I realized the error of my ways in 2-3 minutes. I apologized and explained
my point. The rest, as they say is history. She was playing with another
band, I was between Groove Syndicates and I said, why dont
you come play in my band! And away we went, all over the
Your first two musical influences B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix. Was
rock or blues a bigger influence on your guitar work and what about
Jim Diamond: Man, thats a tough call. Earlier, probably
for sure. Also, good catch
Duane Eddy was on
our record player a lot! My Dad loved him. But since about 1989-ish
more blues-type cats
The three King's (B.B., Freddie, and Albert),
Ronnie Earl, Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, Canadians
- Tom Lavin Powder Blues Band, and Donnie Walsh Downchild
Blues band, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, The Brothers, Warren Haynes,
Lonnie Mack, Hollywood Fats, Snooks Eaglin, Earl Hooker, and of course
Stevie Ray Vaughan. Plus a few of my pals; Wendall Holmes (Holmes
Brothers) Sonny Moorman, Stacy Mitchhart, Noah Wotherspoon, Jon Del
Toro Richardson. And guys like Guy King, Kirk Fletcher, Nick Moss,
and Greg Koch. They all influence me every time I pick up my guitar!
There are too many influences to list! They are / were all my personal
teachers! All of what I do is borrowed or stolen from them, and many
mwe3: Also, you have several instrumental tracks on Friends
& Family as well. Tell us about the big instrumental blues
influence on your writing and playing. Is instrumental blues an overlooked
and under appreciated art form and what can you tell us about your
upcoming instrumental album?
Jim Diamond: The instrumental influence comes from artists
Freddie King, Ronnie Earl, T-Bone Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi
Hendrix, Gatemouth Brown, Earl Hooker and Kenny Burrell. Personally,
I love the instrumentals. And I do believe that they are overlooked.
Todays audiences need to be engaged and most shy away from that
type of music. In fact, we just had this discussion I the band. Generally,
we start off all of our shows with an instrumental. In clubs, every
set begins with one or two instrumentals. It gets the band warmed
up, ready to rock! For me its todays modern classical
music! Its what I compare to classical. They are all about the
instrumentation, and play - back and forth between the soloists. Its
mesmerizing, interesting and puts spotlights on the players. Interestingly,
Cannonball is my homage to Freddie King. I use so many Freddie
type licks and sensibilities. But the solo definitely has a Duane
Eddy feel in spots!
You play vintage Fender and Gibson, G&L and Reverend guitars.
Do you have a preference among your guitars and what was your go-to
guitar for the new album? Also what can you tell us about your BigTone
custom guitars and do you use pedals or effects on Friends &
Jim Diamond: I love, love guitars! All manners, colors, brands,
and styles. But, mostly I play a Stratocaster or a similar styled
three pickup guitar. Like G&L or Reverend. I have been playing
a Les Paul and a Flying V a lot more lately. Throw in a Tele or a
Hollow body Gibson now and then (ES-225, ES-339, ES195). Mostly on
the record I used a custom-built BigTone Strat (P90 & Humbucker
and just a volume knob) and an Eric Johnson Strat. BigTone is something
that Ive been toying with. Morphed bolt on neck Frankensteins,
funky and different. Handmade necks, bodies, and pickups that I assemble.
The only pedals used on the record, on a few songs were a TS808, Maxon
808, and Love pedal Super Six in different configurations. I also
used a Leslie speaker on track 4, Better Way.
mwe3: You also have an endorsement with Eminence speakers.
How did that fall into place? What amps are featured on the Friends
& Family album and what is your go-to amp when you record
music as well as when you play live?
Jim Diamond: For me, Eminence are the best speakers
on the planet! Mr. Chris Rose the president of the company, was so
kind to offer me an endorsement back in 1999. They are in all my amps.
On the record I used a Fender Vibro-king, Fender Vibrolux, Mesa Blue
Angel, Traynor YGM3, and a Dan Electro DM25. My usual go to on the
road has always been a Fender Super Reverb, and a Fender Vibrolux.
But, lately Im going smaller with the Traynor YGM3 and the Dan
Electro DM25. Theyre easier to move! (hahahaha!)
mwe3: When you recorded Friends & Family was it
all done live or are there a lot of overdubs on the album? Were all
the parts recorded in one studio and how were the sessions tracked
Jim Diamond: We recorded the project in two days, live. We
had some overdubs because of recording issues like signal
issues, tone issues, weird noise issues
Also, cousin Hank didnt
make the session, so we added him with RTR later. But, 90 percent
was done in the two sessions. In hindsight, I could have managed it
better. Well do better on our next studio album.
mwe3: How does the Friends & Family album reflect
your live shows? Do you tend to cover music from all your albums?
Your live shows must be quite colorful. What can you tell us about
the joys of bringing your music to the live stage and what are the
challenges of bringing your music to live audiences?
Diamond: We play as much of the new record as we can. Since we
do 80 percent original material in a show, we have other material
from previous records that makes its way into our shows. Also, the
personnel available for the show has an impact on the
set lists and song selection. We love, love, love to entertain and
show our stuff! Our biggest challenge is balancing cover tunes with
originals and making them blend in our show. Recently, weve
taken some cool classic rock stuff by Zep, Cream, etc. and re-imagined
them in our style! The results I must say are really, really cool!
In fact, the coolest will makes its way onto our next studio record
mwe3: In addition to the upcoming Shut Up & Play instrumental
album, you are also planning a retrospective of various tracks called
Choices. How many tracks are on that one and what is the time
span it covers and when will those upcoming albums see release? What
other things do you have planned for 2020?
Jim Diamond: The two new records slated for this year are compilations.
Shut up and Play will be all instrumentals selected from any
one of our four recordings. And Choices will be a best
of if you will, of material from 1997 2019. The retrospective
will show an evolution of our musical catalog! Its deciding
on which songs
thats the tough bit.