Inspiration has always been a key component in Jimmy Thackery's music. Among his formative experiences, he considers two of lasting import: seeing Buddy Guy at a small church in Washington, DC, at age 17 and happening onto an early Jimi Hendrix concert which he said was "the moment that forever changed my life." For more than a quarter century since, Thackery has played the blues with a power and a feeling that can truly be called inspired. On his Telarc debut, We Got It, Thackery and his band The Drivers look to Muscle Shoals legend Eddie Hinton and find in him a musical treasure that incites them to produce one of this year's most exciting contemporary blues/R&B records.
From the opening track, a rousing version of Hinton's "The Searching is Over," Thackery's trademark vocal growl serves notice that he and his band mean business. Recalling Hinton's R&B style, one that can be heard on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and The Staple Singers, just to name a few, We Got It brims with a classic full-bodied sound, aided by Jimmy Carpenter's work on tenor and baritone saxophones. While the majority of the tracks were written by Hinton, Thackery contributes a few originals to the recording and his twangy, fluid style is nowhere more in evidence than on "Blues Dog Prowl," a surf-inflected instrumental that showcases Jimmy's guitar wizardry. His version of the Hinton classic, "Big Fat Woman" is just the kind of tune that has made Thackery a favorite among club-goers. It's fun and danceable, with the kind of blistering electric guitar solos that have earned him Blues Revue magazine's moniker as a "Guitar God."
Thackery's ascent into the pantheon came from years of performing and honing his virtuoso techniques. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Jimmy was raised in Washington, DC, and heard the calling at an early age. In 1972, Thackery and harmonica player Mark Wenner formed The Nighthawks, one of the hardest working and most popular blues bands in the country. The group recorded a string of some twenty albums and played to audiences in the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada. Thackery was the heart, soul and adrenaline of the Nighthawks' sound during his fourteen-year tenure with the band, creating a distinctively raw, powerful guitar style and establishing a reputation as a spectacular soloist.
In 1987, Thackery left The Nighthawks, seeking a break from the grueling 300-night-a-year touring schedule. He was also looking for something different musically and founded a six-piece R&B group called The Assassins. They recorded three albums before disbanding in 1991. In response to the demands of avid fans that he return to playing front and center in a band that would showcase his amazing guitar playing, Thackery formed The Drivers. They have released five albums since 1993, and in that time have mixed it up musically to keep things interesting. Their 1998 album, Switching Gears, included everything from acoustic blues to Hendrix-esque rockers with a dash of zydeco thrown in for good measure.
Power and passion have been a hallmark of Jimmy Thackery's career. On We Got It, Thackery digs into his own roots to deliver a recording that will surely please his longtime fans and will no doubt inspire new ones.