Come on Over
It was over twenty years ago when young harmonica player Jimmy Gordon was told 'you better play good' because the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, was checking him out. Not yet fifteen and already a member of the house band at The Stardust Inn in Waldorf, Maryland, Jimmy was no stranger to the stage or big name performers. They often opened the shows for top acts like Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, little Tanya Tucker, George Jones and Loretta Lynn. Now, the Killer himself was calling for him on stage, and later sending him off with a pocket full of money. But it didn't end there, in fact, that was just the first of many star studded encounters in the musical life of Jimmy Gordon. Jimmy continued to appear occasionally with Jerry Lee, and to explore new sounds. His mastery of the difficult chromatic harmonica and his tasteful playing led to appearances with some of the world's great roots, rock, and blues performers. Jimmy Gordon has been heard with artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Johnson, NRBQ, Eddie Shaw, Pointer, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Recently, Jimmy has performed on some of the rare concert tours of the legendary songwriter/guitarist, JJ Cale, appearing with him at venues on both coasts. (Including a performance at Carnegie Hall.) In 1990, thanks to Cale, Jimmy worked alongside one of the great unsung musical heroes of our time, Spooner Oldham. They became friends and stayed in touch. A wonderful keyboardist, Spooner is also famous for his songwriting, often in collaboration with Dan Penn. (Penn/Oldham are individually or together responsible for such hits as 'I'm Your Puppet', 'Dark End of the Street', 'Do Right Man' and many others.) This brings us to another facet of Jimmy's music and this album - the songs. While joining Spooner and Dan for an appearance at The Bottom Line in New York City, Jimmy heard one of their lesser known songs 'Come On Over', and with their blessing, recorded it for this album. Written in 1962, this song, according to Spooner, 'has never left the county'. It comes to life here as if written specifically for Jimmy. There are also songs by JJ Cale, Muddy Waters, some old classics, and some refreshing originals. From tales of loves lost, courted and captured to tongue-in-cheek romps, Jimmy's songs reflect his sardonic wit as well as his unique perception of everyday life. Jimmy's band gives him the kind of support that allows him to be at his best. Special mention should be made of the contribution of NRBQ co-founder Terry Adams whose 1995 debut solo release 'Terrible' contained a song featuring Jimmy on harp and John Sebastian on guitar. ('These Blues.') Terry recipocated tenfold playing grand piano, hammond organ and clavinet. Of course there is the clever, sometimes wistful, sometimes jazz inflected, but always lyrical and melodic harmonicizm that is Jimmy's trademark. A long time resident of Vermont, decidedly removed from the generally acknowledged centers of music business frenzy, Jimmy should become famous just for the hot peppers he grows. This album (and all those lucky enough to witness his on stage adventures) will make sure he's known for his outstanding musical contributions as well. By Tino Barker, freelance writer and baritone saxophonist.