To me, Jimmy looked like a tired old Muppet saxophone player, sporting sunglasses and a Blues Brothers hat. I had no idea who he was, so the fact that he dominated the stage with his front and center poses, the way he directed other musicians to take a solo here and there, and the way he played his sax and sang full-out, made me realize that I was watching somebody special here.
Turns out, we’ve all heard Jimmy! You may not know his name, or the group Wet Willie, but I bet you remember his famous song from back in the 70’s, “Keep On Smilin'”. Listen: click for Keep On Smiling
Jimmy has a mischievous little twinkle in his eye ( whenever he took his shades off) that just puts a grin on your face. He’s crazy on the stage, but a real good guy deep down. We saw him several times on the cruise. At dinner. At a table in the lounge. Standing on the sidelines watching another band. He’s polite and comfortable in crowds.
He’s played with just about every Southern rock band out there – from the Allman Brothers, to Lynyrd Skynyrd and even Jeff Beck and Grand Funk Railroad. His voice is raspy but strong and right on the money. He hits all the notes full force. There’s no help from back up singers. It’s all or nothing, and Jimmy gets it all.
On the cruise, I thought I’d had enough of Jimmy after the first performance. It seemed to me that his next gig might be just the same stuff done on a new stage. Patty really wanted to see him again, so I agreed to go. Sometimes I make great decisions. This was one of them. Jimmy just amazed us with is little boy grin and his stage antics. He brings out the best of his band and doesn’t hog the stage. But really, all eyes are on him. He struts, sings, shouts, plays harmonica and sax, and just gets everybody up and dancing to whatever crazy song he’s singing. One that Patty and I remember distinctly was Rock and Roll Survivor from his recent album “Brothers of the Southland”. I’ll finish with a clip of that song.
And here’s a video that pretty much says it all.