A Tribute to the Late R&B Legend Etta James


Featuring Donto James, Thelma Jones, & Jimmy Z

By B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

El Camino College, Dec. 1, will host for one night only The Sons of Etta, a tribute to Miss Etta James. Leading the band is the sideman extraordinaire Etta James called Jimmy Z, her “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” because of his great prowess as a harmonica and sax player. Rod Stewart, proclaimed Jimmy Z the best harmonica player in the world. Jimmy played with Stewart in 1981 and through the Camouflage tour in 1984. Jimmy Z performed in 1988 in the Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley Stadium as a member of Eurythmics band– a concert viewed worldwide by one billion people.

Jimmy Z’s life as a working musician is well documented in his autobiography The Confessions of a Glorified Sideman a wild and rollicking tale of Jimmy Z’s life up to near present in the music business. The book speaks of the many relationships with music superstars like Dr. Dre, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Macy Gray, John Mayer, Barry White, and Les McCann.

Hotmix106.com hosts Sheldon Snow “Eclectic Max,” and B. Noel Barr, (Music Writer Dude at Random Lengths News) “Lunch at The Barr,” worked an interview jointly with professional sideman and bandleader Jimmy Z. We talked about his life in music and the upcoming concert dedicated to Miss Etta James.

The interview was originally aired November 26 on Eclectic Max, and the full interview will rebroadcast December 1 at 3:00PM PST on www.hotmix106.com.

Here is a portion of that interview from that broadcast:

We asked about the upcoming concert as The Sons of Etta. Jimmy Z explained, “We started this before Etta passed away – may she rest in peace – she gave us her blessings to do this. She would always tell us (Jimmy played in her band from 2000 up to her passing last year) why don’t you use Donto and Sametto (Etta’s sons) in the band.”

Upon a suggestion, the band was put together with a contemporary of Etta’s, Miss Thelma Jones on lead vocals. Donto James is featured on vocals, as is Jimmy Z who leads the group with his raging harp and sax work.

“So I called the boys and we started working on it.”

The band which features Mo Beeks on keys (Chaka Kahn, B.B. King), B.R. Million guitar (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Zac Harmon) Mick Linden on bass (Bad Haggis, Hassan Hakmoun), Jimmy Vandenberg on trumpet (Clapton, The Coasters), Brian Head on drums (Rodger Hodgson of Supertramp) and Lance Keller on Trombone (Upstream, Son Diablos)

“We started putting the band together and now we are getting good gigs” said Jimmy Z. “This is a 2000 seat room we are playing, this is going to be great. Continuing he started talking up his lead vocalist. We have Thelma Jones who is a dynamo she is contemporary of Etta James and Aretha Franklin. She had hits of her own in the 1970’s like “Salty Tears.””

We asked if there were any parting shots or shouts to the folks here in the South Bay and Harbor. Jimmy said, “Come on out and support your local music scene. There are hardly any blues clubs anymore, just a handful. Those clubs and the artists who work those places need you come out and support their music.”

A rebroadcast of our entire interview will air on Eclectic Max on www.hotmix106.com this Saturday at 3p.m.
Details: elcamino.edu/commadv/centerforarts/
Venue: Marsee Auditorium, El Camino College Center for the Arts
Location: 16007 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance



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