1. Welcome to Kick Acts, Jim. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Not much to tell here. My name is Jim Gaines and I have been a bass player for over 40 years. I was born and raised in Evansville where I have spent most of my life with the exception of a 7-year break which during that time I was playing with a road band headquartered in Terre Haute, IN. I have been back in Evansville for about 12 years, with my wife Cindy and our herd of cats.
2. Right now, you’re playing in a band called Woodsboro. Tell us about the band, who the members are and where you can be found online.
Woodsboro can best be described as a patchwork of musical tastes. It started out as a “country” band, but has evolved into something a little more funky and edgier. We still do traditional and modern country along with some classic rock, but it also has developed a strong Southern vibe to it as well. You’re just as likely to hear Jessica by the Allman Brothers or a Kid Rock tune as you are to hear something by George Jones. The band members are Jim Pease- vocals and guitar, Jim Perkins- drums and vocals, Jim Garrett- electric and acoustic guitars, Harold Stuckey- guitar and vocals, and myself on bass and vocals. You can find us on the web at www.woodsboroband.com.
And yes, I’m aware of all the “Jims” in the band, but The Jimmies was already taken.
3. What gear do you use?
My current weapons of choice are a 2001 Fender Hot Rod P Bass and a 1987 MJ Engineering 5 String Bass alternately known as either Savannah or The AmpSlayer, depending on what’s getting blown up at the moment. Amplification and cabinets consists of a mixed bag of Ashly, JBL, Mesa, and Carvin gear. Fred Bassett keeps trying to sell me things, but has yet to succeed.
4. Tell us about some of your experiences in your time as a musician. Have you ever been in a national or regional touring band? What can you tell us about that?
The experiences in my career as a musician have ranged from the good, the bad, and the ugly to downright unprintable, but all and all it’s been a great ride.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to work with a lot of great players at an early age. I did my first club gig at just shy of 16 and a lot of the players were 5 to as much as 20 years my senior, so I was held to a little different standard in regards to my learning curve. Mistakes weren’t really an option, so I had to work a bit harder than most guys were willing to do that age.
I owe a great deal to bands from the 70’s era of Free Reign and September Sunn and players like Rudy Hillenbrandt, Kenny Lowe, Charlie Davis, Jim Overby, Kenny Kraft, Bill Ball, Neil Long, and a host of others for their willingness to take in a young musician just learning his craft. I learned something from them all. Last but not least I’d also like to include the great Andy Timmons in that list. Even though our time together was brief, he is hands down one of the finest guitarists I’ve ever worked with and he taught me things that I still apply to my playing today.
I spent a very intense 8 years from 1989 to 1997 with a duo of brothers from Newburgh, IN, Randy and Ronnie Beard who performed as The Beards. We worked at various times throughout the Midwest using Terre Haute, IN as our home base, but the main focus was Nashville. The best way I can describe the band is a cross between Motley Crue and Alabama. It was balls to the wall rock and roll with strong vocal harmonies.
We actually had more in common musically with ZZ Top than George Jones, but it worked very well and played to packed rooms. The band independently released a single that charted very well regionally (unheard of in Nashville at the time), received great reviews, and showcased several times for all of the major labels in NashVegas, but despite stellar songwriting, “A” list songs pitched to us, and a strong push from several Nashville insiders, it just never could quite get over the hump.
Hell, a song we shopped to the majors and were turned down on was one of the biggest country crossover hits of 1993. Given some of the acts that broke out of Nashville afterwards, I’ll always consider it just being ahead of the curve by about a year or so.
I’ll always look back to that period of my playing as expanding my abilities as a live/session player and arranger but it’s also where I learned about the true ruthless and heartless nature of the music industry. Local band politics aren’t squat compared to that. Burned me out so badly , that I took nearly a year off when it was all said and done. Worked a day job and fished.
5. Tell us a greatest gig story.
Even though just about every gig has its moments, there’s 3 that stand out here. The first was opening for the Charlie Daniels Band in 1990 at the Evansville Coliseum in front of a sold out crowd. Nothing like playing for the hometown crowd, that and Kevin Book was my bass roadie.
The second was opening for Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys the same year at the RCA Dome in front of about 50,000 people. Probably one of the most electrifying gigs I’ve ever played and I still get goosebumps thinking back on it.
The third might come as a surprise. I spent the last few years with The Beards working in a side project with Randy Beard that promoted reading and writing skills to Kindergarten through 3rd Grade and special needs/at risk children. We would write songs with the kids in a writing session and present them to the entire student body later in the day with just guitar, bass, a drum machine and the kids singing their songs to the entire school. Creativity and spontaneity at its finest. By the time the band folded in 1997 , I’d venture to say that the program had been presented to well over 100, 000 students and educators nationwide and Randy’s website puts current figures at over 1 million since the program’s inception. Probably one of the coolest and most personally rewarding things I’ve ever done as a musician.
6. Now tell us one about a worst gig.
A tie here.
Probably the worst was the last night of a long road gig. Let’s just let it suffice to say that there are certain band dynamics that can become very evil when they rise to the surface, even more so when they are one sided and driven by enablers. The tension and animosity was a living thing and bordered on psychological warfare at the end of the night. I was never so happy to see 4 hours over in my life. Loaded my gear, headed for Evanspatch with my new wife and never looked back.
A very close second would have to be a gig I spent about 6 months in here locally. I have an low tolerance for rock stars and even less tolerance for rock stars who can’t play their way out of a bag and think they’re Quincy Jones. That’s all I’m sayin’ about that one.
7. How have things changed since your early days as a musician?
Aside from the ever shrinking number of venues and the seemingly smaller pool of musicians to pull from, I can’t say that things have changed tremendously over the last 35 years. A lot of the issues, politics, and general crap are still the same.
One thing that really sticks out to me is the decline in music programs overall, not so much locally, but on a national level. The lack of music programs in big city schools and the decline in funding of the ones that are still there is pretty absurd to me and it already shows on some levels.
I had a vocal music teacher in grade school that allowed me to drag a bass and amp to school on a nearly daily basis from the 5th grade on and she saw to it that I got a grade in instrumental music even though I didn’t play in the school band outside of one year playing coronet. She taught me about all the things that a kid dragging around an electric bass just didn’t usually learn in grade school.
That kind of thing just isn’t fostered or encouraged anymore on a large scale basis that I’m aware of and it’s really a shame. I’ve actually read recently about a music program being put into some school systems that considers a turntable to be a musical instrument and I have to honestly say that I take exception to that. You can’t learn theory, composition, structure, and performance in Scratching 101. Sorry DJs, but it’s just a tool and without musicians giving you something to spin on it, it would just be a place to set your beer.
8. What inspired you to become a musician?
I was exposed to music at a very early age by my grandfather and his brothers. It was always being played in some form or another, but I’d say the Beatles are what truly set it in stone. I actually remember where I was when I saw their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and I lay the blame for all of this squarely at their feet.
9. Who are your musical heroes & why?
This has been a varied list throughout the years. The previously mentioned players and my grandfather are there for the obvious reasons, with the addition of guys like Scott Tingley, Kim Sutherland, Keith Fitzgerald, and Paul Skelton for their influences on my formative years with the bass. I replaced Scott in Free Reign in around 1979 or so and Kim in The Beards in 1989, so in my mind it was a passing of the torch of sorts when I think about the influence they had on me in the early days. There also the who’s who list of players like McCartney, Jamerson, Pastorius, Oakley and others that influenced me with their approach to melody and groove to a point that can still be heard in my playing today. Wouldn’t dare compare myself to any of them, but you can hear bits and pieces if you listen. Currently , I’m looking to Oteil Burbridge of The Allman Brothers Band for inspiration. Tone and technique for days and will only play over the top when it fits. Not a Wankmaster like a lot of bass players out there.
10. This is the question called “Shout It Out Loud” and it where you get to answer the question I didn’t ask or talk about whatever you want. JIM, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!
I’d like to use this spot to tip my hat to some folks. Most of all I’d like to thank my wife, best friend, and forever soul mate Cindy. She was there during the days of my road trip, privy to the inner circle before and after our getting together, and witnessed first hand the madness of a band on the brink, its fall into obscurity and knows all too well the ups, downs, in betweens, and the heartache that is attached to the music business. She has supported me through thick and thin and every musician should be so lucky to have a woman that understands the business so well. I’m really glad we found each other.
I have had the great fortune to have met a number of great players too numerous to list and people who I am still able to count among my friends, including several that stick out in my mind. Dave Martin, Steve Krietzer, Bob Green, and his sons Eli and Jordan are all great players and I thank Dead Weight and its revolving cast of characters for pulling me out of the funk that nearly caused me to hang it up for good. These guys brought me back into focus when I needed it the most.
Shawn Needham, who showed me that I can play tunes that I never thought I could, and Jim Perkins, who makes my job playing bass an easy one and the rest of the guys in the Woodsboro Gang that make it an adventure.
Lee Ramirez is an all around class act that could be a great bass player if he’d just get his hand below the fifth fret ( just kiddin’ Bro’ ! Love ya’ mean it !)
Last but not least, I’d also like to give a shout out to my Low End Brother Jon Rochner. Jon and I have been friends for probably over 20 years and in my humble opinion, he is The Master Of The Eternal Groove. I never fail to learn something from him every time I see him play and we should all aspire to attain his level of talent and humility. A great player who has hooked me up with many a gig and an all around great guy who I am very proud to call my friend.
Bring on the dancing chicken . . . .