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Jimmy Thackery said “I will hope to have left a body of work that some may remember for 10 minutes. ... I just wish my dogs would take me seriously.”

Guitarist Jimmy Thackery has been a driving force in blues for over 45 years, first as a Nighthawk, then as an Assassin. But for the last quarter century, Thackery has fronted the Drivers, a band named after a function he’s never performed in a vehicle.

“I’m not sure how I managed to miss that all important window of the coming of age as it pertains to the act of driving a car,” Thackery said by email last week from his Belize residence.

“At some point, I became aware that I was over 40 years old with no driver’s license and thought it was a better idea to forget about it altogether than to attempt to learn. At 65, I’m still thinking along those lines.”

Thackery took Drivers’ Ed in school and had every intention of clearing that hurdle, but then got serious about playing in a band at about the same time. Someone’s Mom was always available to load up the family station wagon with band gear and transport the fledgling band to a gig. He somehow avoided that chore through his 14-year stint with the ’Hawks and his five years with the Assassins.

“When I had gone off on my own, a member of the new group was chosen by default and distance to pick me up and drop me off after gigs or rehearsals, much to his chagrin,” Thackery said. “He suggested that I call my new endeavor The Drivers.”

The Drivers were initially a trio, but saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter joined the group in 1999, adding a new dimension to the sound.

“He’d been a sparse trio since the Assassins, which was a band of excess. He went completely the other way,” Carpenter said, who worked with Thackery until 2014 as tour manager and saxophonist, recording on “Sinner Street,” the Eddie Hinton tribute “We Got It,” “True Stories” and “Whiskey Store Live.”

“He covers a lot of ground,” Carpenter said in an 2001 interview when he was still with the band, postulating that the addition of the sax takes some of the pressure off Thackery. “He can play rhythm, which he likes. I kinda play the straight man to him, sorta set him up.”

Thackery remembers Carpenter fondly.

“Carpenter and I had some very good times playing some pretty good stuff,” he said. “I’ve played with some very good saxophone players along the way, and he is one of the best.”

Just after Carpenter departed, Thackery recorded 2005’s “Healin’ Ground” in Nashville with producer/guitarist/singer Gary Nicholson. It was a difficult endeavor, with the duo committing to writing, recording and mixing the project in two weeks with a different co-writer for each session. Thackery had grown accustomed to having the sax round out the sound, but Nicholson convinced him that although they both loved what the sax brought to the band, it also could date the material the two were trying to come up with.

“He really launched me back into the trio format with that record, and it was soon afterwards that I came to the realization that the trio had always been what I fall back into,” Thackery said. “There is something about that ‘power of three’ thing that just fits better.” ~ [READ MORE]


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Outside Influence
July 2017
Story by Phil Reser (Enjoy Magazine)
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Thackery

Blues singer, guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Thackery combines elements of Nashville twang, swing, surf, hard rock and frequent excursions into the world of jazz and still comes up with a sound that is distinctly the blues.

“I think, like any blues musician, I knew the moment it hit me over the head like a baseball bat. I was at the playground at school fooling with a transistor radio when Slim Harpo came on with a crossover hit called ‘Scratch My Back.’ That was the moment.

“I also remember the first Rolling Stones album was all blues covers. I thought they were Stones songs but as I looked at the credits, I saw names like Ella Bates and McKinley Morganfield. I went on a search for records by these guys, but I couldn’t find anything until someone told me Daniels and Morganfield were Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. So I found their records and it was all over.”

As a teenager growing up in Washington, D.C., Thackery saw Buddy Guy play in a small church, and the gig had a huge effect on him, though not as big as that of seeing Jimi Hendrix’s first official show in the United States.

He cites Chicago axe master Otis Rush as a primary influence. Moreover, along the way, he learned quite a bit from playing on stage alongside such blues legends as Muddy Waters, James Cotton and Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson.

“Everybody I ever listened to were influences in one way or the other. Even if it was just figuring out what not to do. That’s the way I think you have to approach it, you have to take what you can from everybody’s performance, whether it be a positive or a negative.”

Thackery spent 14 years touring the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan with the Nighthawks, a legendary blues and roots rock ensemble. He was the heart, soul and adrenaline of the Nighthawks sound, having created a distinctively raw, powerful guitar style and establishing a reputation as a dynamic soloist.

After leaving the Nighthawks in 1986, he formed Jimmy Thackery & the Assassins, which toured and recorded three albums before disbanding in 1991. The Assassins at one time included six horns and up to 13 members, including backup singers. Thackery says he reached a point where the band was too large to handle. “The logistics of trying to travel were too difficult, and it was hard to keep harmony.”

He then formed the trio Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, which continues to play blues festivals and clubs and record his original songs, a mainstay of the current blues world.

“My bands have always played hot-rod stuff, up-tempo blues, not the slow down, cry-in-your-beer music. Even the old-time blues musicians, when they played at a roadhouse or wherever they congregated on a Saturday night after slavery, went crazy. They played songs about losing their wives or girlfriends or losing all their money and their house. The beat was so infectious. These guys drew down, so it was a whole layer getting those demons out, you know. So we’re trying to do the same thing. We’re up there trying to help people forget whatever happened during the week.”

Thackery has released 15 albums on the Blind Pig and Telarc labels. Eight of his releases reached the top 15 on Billboard’s Blues charts. After Telarc, Jimmy became independent and started his own label, White River Records, which has released five titles, including his most recent album, “Spare Keys,” an all-original album with six instrumentals and six tunes with vocals. The instrumentals highlight Thackery’s vast styles, influenced by his interest in all varieties of music, from classical to slack-key to country to rock and tropical rock.

“I find that by listening to classical music or old jazz, like Django Reinhardt, some slack-key music by Ledward Kaapana or something like that, that kind of stuff, that melodic thread, sparks my creative juices more than listening to John Lee Hooker or even Muddy Waters anymore. I’ve spent almost a lifetime listening to that stuff, trying to learn how to play it. Now I’m trying to figure out how to inject melody into it.”

Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers with Gina Sicilia
Saturday, July 22, World Records Showcase Theater in Bakersfield

Visit www.shopworldrecords.com!



Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers :: SPARE KEYS
Posted: Sep 08, 2016 Latest Blues News, Music

Jimmy Thackery has made his career as a musician for over 40 years, traveling the globe from big festivals to everyone’s favorite neighborhood bars. A true professional musician, Jimmy gives his audience his best each and every performance, respecting and appreciating his fans along the way. His music reaches people’s lives in personal and profound ways, as witnessed by the touching messages he receives during and after each tour.
Spare Keys is an all-original album, with six instrumentals and six tunes with vocals. These songs use all the keys available on guitar, running the gamut from soulful blues in “Blues All Night,” to heart-wrenching blues in “I Even Lost the Blues” and “You Can’t Come Back.” His rock roots shine in “Puttin’ the Word Out” and “Fightin’ in the Jungle,” which also features howler monkeys recorded at the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize.
The instrumentals highlight Thackery’s vast styles, influenced by his interest in all varieties of music from classical to slack-key to country to rock and tropical rock. “Candy Apple Red” is an upbeat melody repeated from the Strat to baritone guitar, and slowing down a bit, “Same Page On Demand” will wow you with some powerful, minor chords. For one that melts your worries away, descend into the dreamy “Bella Noche,” guaranteed to soothe your soul on a continuous basis.

“The Barber’s Guitar” has an interesting story, for those of you who like to know where some inspiration for writing is found. Jimmy saw an old guitar propped in a corner of his regular barber shop, and asked the barber if he would like him to fix it up for him. Of course, the answer was an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ so it was gifted with fresh strings, a new homemade nut, a straightened neck and tuned. When the time came for a Thackery test run, an unfamiliar song spontaneously took over his hands, and “The Barber’s Guitar” was born. Jimmy believes every instrument has a song inside, waiting to shine, and somehow this one was a thankful return for being cared for and pampered!

The Drivers on this CD are Rick Knapp on bass and Chris Reddan and George Sheppard splitting the drum tracks. Chris came along on tour when George had emergency shoulder surgery in 2015, so he sat in the drum chair for the first recording session, and George finished out upon his return. The recording, mixing and mastering took place at Tony’s Treasures in Cadiz, OH.
If you don’t have a set of spare keys hidden away somewhere, this is your important safety tip reminder.

The album is available on disc or by download at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon or at jimmythackery.com.


~ Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers New CD Release ~


CD Release date: Sept 7th, but pre-orders can be made at CD Baby starting Aug 17th

~ Available at CD Baby on August 17, 2016 ~

Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers perform live in South Florida, with special guest JP Soars, on Edition 235 of Blues Radio International, with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and Ella Fitzgerald.




May 24, 2016

Gearing up for the next run folks!

Cleveland is up first with a return to the fabulous BEACHLAND BALLROOM. It's been a while since we've been there, so spread the word. Rumor has it that my old pal, Tom Shaper and his band, are doing a set in front, and I'd bet there will be a little jamming later if that's the deal.
Then, we motor over to THE MOTOR CITY and make a stop at CALLAHAN'S in Auburn Hills. Ever since recording our live CD there, we have had a joyful anticipation of playing Cally's .Great sound and not a bad seat in the house!

PITTSBURGH next folks. MOONDOGS is still a favorite stop, and we always look forward to the fine food at the STARLIGHT RESTAURANT, which has the World's biggest and bestest perogies anywhere!
Planning a few days at our long time favorite studio, TONY's TREASURES in eastern Ohio. We will hopefully finish a new CD project we started last year and will be sure to let everyone on the newsletter list know the minute the recording is available.

A quick touchdown in WASHINGTON DC at GYPSY SALLY'S where Cathy Ponton King will open the show with Hammond B3 player extraordinaire, Sam Palladino and another old friend on bass--Jan Zukowski will be there, and we haven't crossed paths in….forever! Should be a gas! DURHAM,NORTH CAROLINA at THE BLUE NOTE will be next up and then, on to points south.

Now, folks…. this next one is very special to me personally. After nearly forty years, end of an era is finally at hand. Since 1973, THE DOUBLE DOOR INN in CHARLOTTE has been home to the greatest blues and rock n' roll acts to ever hit a lick. Everyone has played there. Even Clapton!I started there as a young NIGHTHAWK in 1976 or '77! My dear friend Nick, benevolent owner and close personal pal, has come to the end of his road there, and though he probably would have stayed, the City of Charlotte had other ideas. The whole area will be redeveloped soon, and my oldest musical "home" will be closed for good. I'm sure all the musicians and fans have the same bittersweet feeling about this turn of events, but all great things come to an end, and so we bid a fond farewell to the old place. Sadly, that said...this will be my last show at THE DOUBLE DOOR. I'm really hoping everyone that's ever even seen a show there over the decades will come out to say "Thanks" to Nick and the whole crew and enjoy one last Drivers show at the famous DOUBLE DOOR INN! The club will be doing live music up till the very end of 2016, so come anytime, but please come out for our last one, folks….it will mean a lot!

We will pull ourselves together then, and head towards the famous BRADFORDVILLE BLUES CLUB in the woods outside of TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA. There is something about that place. Everyone says the same thing! It just rocks like crazy! Maybe because it's so secluded or, maybe it is the ghosts of blues men past, but it has a vibe that just can't be beat. Oh! And don't forget the fried catfish! Best in the state.
Over east to Old Town SANFORD, FLORIDA, and THE ALLEY.

Let's pack this one, folks, it has the right mojo workin'! Next up is
STUART, FLORIDA, and a place lots of folks have started playing and is really doing well for them called, TERRA FERMATA. Rick's hometown gig!

On down 95 to BOCA RATON to pair up with J.P. SOARS and his RED HOTS at THE FUNKY BISCUIT. Another stellar room with great sound and wonderful Gulf Style eats! Come early and grab a seat and stay for the last set jam! This will kill! I promise.

KEY LARGO, FLORIDA, and the BAYSIDE GRILLE is a new territory for us, so we hope you all migrate south with us and give them a good showing. And, finally, the matinee at our favorite Sunday gig anywhere, EARLS HIDEAWAY in SEBASTIAN BEACH, FLORIDA. This crowd gets bigger and more into the music every time, and we always throw down extra hard. Since it will be THE END OF THE TOUR PARTY, it will be extra throw down deluxe!

Remember to ask your friends to sign up for this newsletter and forward it on at the easy share button. When the new CD is available, you'll get first shot at it.

REMEMBER THE DOUBLE DOOR! And we'll see you at your local spot!

Safe driving is a must!
Jimmy, George and Rick

Oct 15, 2015

In The Mail - From Bill Matthews of the National Forest Service

Hey Jimmy ... Attached is a couple pictures of a prehistoric archaeological site I found today at 9,700 feet in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. I named the site Smokin’ Joe Kubek in honor of him. Once I write up the site report, this site will be added to the Smithsonian database and will remain on the Archaeological records forever. All the orange flags are artifacts and, as you can see, it is in a beautiful location. It’s the least I can do.

Stay strong brother!


Oct 12, 2015 - RIP JOE KUBEK

In loving memory of a great Bluesman and the best pal ever.

Rest In Peace, Brother Joe




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The new CD entitled, WIDE OPEN is now available for purchase!

Hard copies are available at CD Baby and digital downloads are on iTunes, Amazon, and all your favorite delivery outlets. We've worked diligently on this new music, to write, arrange, record, produce, package and deliver to you folks, our friends and family.

Work began on this project in 2012 at Tony's Treasures in Cadiz, Ohio, our favorite studio to work in these days. Two of the tracks, Hard Luck Man and Someone Who's Crying Tonight were loaded onto iTunes for download only, while the other tracks from that session remained in the giant vault at Tony's Treasures Studios. These two tunes have had a remix to blend with the new songs a bit more.

2013 proved to be a very busy year for me, personally, as we relocated far from Busch, Arkansas, where Ms.Sally and I had lived for ten years.

I spent the winter months in an exotic new setting in my little demo recording studio, writing, reworking and polishing material for the new session. All of the songs were mixed and then e-mailed to the band to scrutinize and learn. It was April of this year when things became conducive to finishing up the project and to get the real studio versions recorded. As usual, Mark and Cody had everything at the studio tweaked and ready to rock.

We set up George's drums in the" big room" to get an open room sound for him. I used a little different set up this time, utilizing some rooms newly constructed upstairs as isolation booths for guitar. Working in a stereo format, the guitar signals were separated and fed back to the control room where I was free to use the same monitor speakers as the engineer and not have to rely on headphones. I've always found them to be a bit cumbersome, and they don't give me the sound reproduction that the studio monitors do. The session went by quickly (always a positive sign that the creative "juices" are flowing), and we mixed everything while we were still in Ohio.

We are all very proud of this CD and hope you get as much joy out of listening to it as we had creating it. It is my first CD that all the songs are original, with no cover tunes. Many emotions were involved in these 12 songs, so I hope you enjoy the journey and the visions I've expressed. We hope you'll order yours today, and let us know what you think about it! When it arrives, throw it in and let 'er rip!

Be sure to check the upcoming dates on the tour schedule. We will have this new disc for sale at all personal appearances, available for signatures by all the fellers. Sign up here for the newsletter so you'll know when we are coming close by for a live show. Bring your friends---we need the gas money!

See you great folks out on the WIDE OPEN road!










Perhaps, if any of you good folks out there are fans of the TV series on FX Network called JUSTIFIED, starring Timothy Oliphant, you might have heard our tune, TAKE MY BLUES playing during a scene in the season premiere episode.

We were tickled that it was chosen for the broadcast and hope to, perhaps, get played in another episode later in the season. There is a snippet of the song on the shows website which you can check out along with a link back to this page! Very nice indeed!

Meanwhile, the agents are putting together another extensive US tour that will be posted here shortly.

As always,this site is THE place for available CDs and cool T-shirts and other stuff. Don't forget the two digital downloads available here (see below) - as we'll as iTunes and CD BABY! - Let us know what you think! Send us an Email: jimmythackery2@gmail.com

Order your CDs, T's and downloads today! And, by all means, keep an eye out for live appearances in your town or nearby. We need your support, kids! We luv ya!

~ Jimmy, Bump, and Bam-Bam ~



Sept 28, 2012

Greetings, folks!

Yes,time for another Drivers road trip and cartoon adventure! Latest addition to the website is an updated schedule on our "SHOWS PAGE" that should cover October and November. AND! .... an added bonus! Here, just below, is a link to download our two brand new songs:

SOMEONE WHO'S CRYING is an old style soul ballad that laments the sad unseen of society while HARD LUCK MAN is a big ol' power trio rocker!

Each tune is available for a buck from iTunes or CD Baby.

The link here will take you to the CD Baby download site directly. Just click on SINGLE DOWNLOADS or the link provided here.

So ... We've loaded up the truck and we are ready to rock! Hope to see you all at the shows and, remember, we ALWAYS have CDs for sale at the gigs or you can order directly from here!

And a special thanks to Mark Puskarich and Cody at Tony's Treasures Studio for the great job of recording!

See you soon,
Jimmy Thackery




Aug 02 , 2012

AS LIVE AS IT GETS - White River

Many renowned acts have graced the stages of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises over the years, performing sets as legendary as the cruise name itself. This is one of them. Recorded on the floating blues lounge atop Pacific swells in October of 2011, this matchup consisting of Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers and JP Soars & the Hydraulic Horns is a 2-CD set of blazing guitar and saxophone fronted blues. Thackery, the veteran D. C. blues icon, exchanges scorching licks with JP Soars in a fine display of camaraderie and showmanship throughout.

For the unaware, Soars, along with his band The Red Hots, won first place in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2009. Known for proficiency in multiple genres, Soars also won the distinguished Albert King Award for most promising guitarist. So the addition of JP Soars to the Jimmy Thackery trio is exciting enough. Add to the mix the tenor sax of Joe McGlohon and the baritone of Jim Spake and you've got a fully charged blues event.

A show highlight is Thackery's slow blues "Blind Man in the Night," originally from his Feel The Heat album. The intense number features searing guitar notes amid Thackery's throaty emotional vocal performance. Thackery's own "Kickin' Chicken" brings the first CD to a rollicking jump blues instrumental close. The focus is on the whole band in this one.

There's a few traditional titles performed in a hard driving blues style. Dual sax and a familiar riff begin a cover of Guitar Slim's "A Letter To My Girlfriend." The New Orleans swag is augmented by nifty six-string and horn solo exchanges. An exhilarating sax solo begins a 16-minute slow blues cover of Muddy Waters' "Gypsy Woman." A familiar Muddy Waters' riff rocks the boat behind Thackery's gritty voice in Johnny Guitar Watson's "Gangster Of Love." The whole band kicks ass in a rollicking version of H. E. Owens' "The Hustle (Is On)." J. B. Lenoir's "I've Been Down So Long" ends the show with twenty minutes of slow blues improv, perfect for mellowing out on the Pacific.

Jam band blues is what many of the tracks are about, as ten-minute songs are the average. Two are close to twenty minutes in length, giving the first CD five songs and the second four. The songs fly off in improvisational blues heaven, in which each performer solos without restraint alongside The Drivers' rhythm section of bassist Mark "Bumpy Rhodes" Bumgarner and drummer George "Bam Bam" Sheppard. The sound is rich and full, but it never gets excessive. The guitars and horns execute a proper musical balance, forefront and in the background, and they don't get in each others' way. Thackery mentions in the CD liner notes that nothing was added in the studio afterward. What's heard is what was played onstage. The satisfying music heard on this solid live album is a good display of the pleasurable experience people get from these blues cruises. This is what it's all about.

~ Brian D. Holland ~










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