The Jimmy Bowskill Band
Friday, November 24, 2006
Showplace Performance Centre
Peterborough Ontario, Canada
Waaaay back in September, when I heard that Jimmy Bowskill would be playing Showplace, I knew this would be a show to see. So, I emailed his Mom and asked if I could come photograph it. "What?" you say "You emailed his Mom?" Oh, didn't I mention that Jimmy is just 16 years old?
The short history is that at the ripe old age of 11, Jimmy travelled to Toronto and busked his way into an invitation to sit in with guitar great Jeff Healey. Jimmy was then on the fast-track to celebrity. Obviously there was the novelty act appeal, but this kid could actually play, and play with feeling. Now Jimmy's all growed up (well, sorta), and at the ripe old age of 16 he is fronting a power trio with Al Cross (drums) and Wayne Deadder (bass).
I arrived at the venue a little after 7 pm and introduced myself to Jimmy's mom Teresa, who was busy setting up the merch table. She told me there'd been some delays and that Jimmy was just now finishing up his soundcheck. Teresa escorted me past security so I could see the last of the soundcheck and work out the logistics of my photo shoot.
The Jimmy Bowskill who hit the stage shortly after 8 pm wasn't the little kid seen in publicity photos in a bowler and suit. This also wasn't the quiet, unassuming teen I had seen in the local guitar store I often drop into for a cup of coffee. Jimmy led his band through a rapid-fire first set that was short on between song banter and long on tasty guitar playing. For me, the highlight of the first set were Jimmy's renditions of Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back That Wig," and the obviously Cream-inspired classic "Sitting On Top Of The World."
The second set began "unplugged," with Jimmy on the banjo performing Doc Watson's "The Cuckoo Bird" with a vocal that hinted at a young Elvis Presley.
During the first set, my vantage point had been from far stage left, next to the PA tower. Luckily I lost most of my hearing back when I was in bands. As the second set progressed I noticed some vacated front row seats (these patrons must have had some hearing they wanted to keep) and it was on the floor in front of these seats that I set,up shop for the second set.
Jimmy now switched to acoustic guitar for the original "Falling," which he dedicated to "a very beautiful girl."
It was after this song that Jimmy seemed to finally come out of his shell, and we got a true glimpse of what makes him tick. Jimmy explained at length what a Dobro was, and how, with the help of a plant stand and a jigsaw, he had made his own from a guitar that began as a cheap imitation. It was on this Dobro that he shared with us a moving interpretation of Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues." Next under the knife of Doctor Bowskill was an unsuspecting six string guitar whose headstock had "a big hole drilled in it," and more tuners added to it. This creation is Jimmy's nine string guitar. The guitar has a strange droning sitar-type sound and Jimmy's "Nine String Song" was a hybrid of bluegrass and Middle Eastern sounds, which was interesting but may have gone on a little long.
The rest of the set was electric, and Jimmy highlighted several new songs as well as playing selections from his past recordings. It's easy to forget Jimmy's only sixteen years old as he leads the band through changes and takes command of the stage.
"Skinny Like 6 O'clock" harkened back to Chuck Berry, and B.B. King's "3 O'clock Blues" closed the set and left the audience clamoring for an encore.
Rock and roll and the blues are alive and well! Wanna know where they're living? Inside a 16 year old white boy from Canada!
Link in Your Chain
Give Me Back That Wig
Sitting On Top Of The World
The Cuckoo Bird (on Banjo)
Falling (Acoustic Guitar)
Walkin' Blues (Dobro)
Nine String Song (with Frank Gerard)
Far From Reality
Skinny Like 6 o'clock
3 o'clock Blues
The Truth (Encore)
Thanks to Jimmy, Teresa and Steve Bowskill for allowing my cameras at the show.
More photos in the Gallery