Multimillionaire Jim Kimsey records country-rock album
The great thing about being Jim Kimsey? When he gets the urge to do something, he usually does it.
The multimillionaire co-founder of AOL saw “Crazy Heart” — the Jeff Bridges movie about a washed-up honky-tonk singer — and said, “That looks like fun!” A friend urged him to try it. “But I can’t sing,” protested Kimsey. “Neither can he,” replied the friend.
And so “My First Rodeo” was born: A double album of rock and country songs — some original, some covers — sung by Kimsey under the persona “Verlin Jack.” (A combo of his middle name and a grandson’s name.) He sent the CD to 700-plus friends just in time for Christmas — and just before he left town for an extended vacation in the Caribbean.
The cover of Kimsey’s debut double album, "My First Rodeo." (Jim Kimsey)
The liner notes tell the tale: “Is he good? Not important. Can he carry a tune? Who cares? To scratch this itch, he created this product. . . the epitome of solipsism. Hell, he even drew his own face on the CD cover!”
In truth, what started as a lark turned into a serious project for Kimsey, 72. The Washington native and Vietnam vet returned to his roots as a bar owner to put together a personal collection of tunes, then hired a voice coach to whip his bass baritone into shape.
“It took longer and was harder than I ever anticipated,” he told us Wednesday from Mustique.
He never performed before; never even sang in the shower. But, as was bound to happen, he got sucked into it: Hiring backup musicians and selecting songs to cover. There’s some Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, June Carter and three original songs he worked on with Ronan Farrow. Yes, the Rhodes Scholar son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen , whom he met through the voice coach. The two collaborated on “Fidel’s Retreat,” a song about Kimsey’s 2000 meeting withFidel Castro in Havana; “Love or Money,” a ballad about life as a super-rich bachelor; and “Ask Nancy,” a raucous ode to his longtime assistant Nancy Merritt:
I know it may sound wrong,
You’re half my pimp and half my mom
Without you I’d be gone
Kimsey originally intended the CD to be a Christmas gift for the Boy’s Club, a collection of two dozen old friends who meet monthly for lunch. But the list of friends expanded, and pretty soon the album went out to most of D.C.’s top business and social leaders.
The reaction? “To my face, it’s been favorable,” Kimsey said — although he did blow out of town before most of his pals heard the CD.
Dan Wolff-PICK OF THE WEEK-Old Fashioned Love
Dan Wolff did not pick up a guitar until he was 18 years old. He then went off to college and immersed himself in music and continued to follow that path successfully.
Old Fashioned Love is his third studio effort and it certainly sounds like a polished veteran of the recording studio is at work on this recent release.
The vocals he provides will immediately remind you of Al Stewart (“Year of the Cat”) and John Mayer, if you happen to be familiar with either artist. That isn’t the only way to connect to Wolff’s music though. What you find with the 12 tracks on this CD is a totally relaxing sound with lyrics you can hear and understand.
Old Fashioned Love is a perfect title for this album. The subject matter is every day old fashioned love songs, just as advertised. Wolff’s smooth and straightforward voice is hard to dislike. And most importantly the critical element to make it all believable is the instrumentation throughout, it is exceptional. This helps to move his vocalizations over the top of the music like a bird gliding in the sky.
Even though you can classify this music as a combination of rock and folk there are other elements that come into play to give this solid release its flavor. Because of the multitude of instruments used, I heard some blues, and bits and pieces of roots and country. For that reason it made the entire listen more interesting and I was able to look further into what the artist was trying to accomplish with his music and how it really made me feel.
On “When She Was Mine” the line “drinking coffee from a bottomless cup, start to worry that I’ve had way too much,” was a brilliant way to put the entire track into proper perspective. It is a bitter sweet love song that makes you reflect upon your own life and the passing of time If you could turn back time what would you change? And on a deeper level the possibilities of how many different people would be in your life if that opportunity was presented.
Some of my favorite tracks are “Old Fashioned Love,” “Hard To Get” and “When She Was Mine.” The entire recording is impressive and a breath of fresh air in the otherwise polluted surroundings we live in. If you want to get away from anything electronic like the TV or PC and are yearning to kick back and take in some music that will soothe your soul, make you tap your feet and look at the reflection of yourself within the music, then Old Fashioned Love is your free pass to get there.
Featured Artist: The Fishermen Band
Your new album “The River” is due out September 2012. How is the progress coming along so far with the album?
Well, the whole idea behind “the River” is that we are going to be releasing a song a month for the next 12 months instead just doing one big disc. A river of flowing music…We thought it would be cool to just keep coming out with new material so that every month you can have a new Fishermen Band song. The songs are all plotted out, and “Explode” is the first song on the album. We had the idea and scrapped any plans of releasing it all at once.
Where is the band recording the album and what producer are you working with on “The River”?
The Fishermen Band records with Ambiance Recording Studios in Germantown, MD with Producer Josh Insel. Josh has been a close friend for several years, and has recorded some of the biggest names to come out of DC. He took us on in 2009 for Vision, and it was such an amazing experience, we all had to do another project together. Recording with the highest level of equipment with someone that knows what they are doing makes all the difference. We’ve seen Josh’s business grow over the last ten years, from a small home studio in Gaithersburg to a giant studio home in Germantown. His Recording capabilities are absolutely unmatched around here. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent beefing up his studio. Truly an inspiring place to work on music. He actually just got props in the Washington Post for producing millionaire Jim Kimsey (Verlin Jack” of which several Fishermen Band members guest starred)