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Regalia Records: News

SA Blues and Roots - September 10, 2012

Thank you Southern Australia Roots and Blues for including me in Both podasts 169 and 170 Sept and October 2012 !

Phoenix Rising by Sue Miller - September 5, 2012

“Phoenix Rising”

‘There is nothing in this world more powerful, inspiring and addictive than the sound of a really Nasty Rock ‘n Roll guitar. That feeling is only topped by the power of True Love.’
Ohio based rock/bluesman, Jimmy Fleming, follows up his 2010 Uncle Mont’s Quandry album, ‘Sorrow in Full Strut’ this September with, Jimmy Fleming ‘The Crow The Creeper Sessions’. The latest release continues and consolidates an outpouring of song writing which fed into ‘Sorrow’ and which grew from some pretty dark days.
Born in Columbus, forty year old Fleming first picked up a guitar at age three. ‘We had a banjo and guitar etc. and I thought the guitar was tuned wrong and set about tuning it like the banjo...tinkered with it awhile.’ He taught himself while playing to Rolling Stones records ‘until I could play those songs with my personal weird tuning’. Moving through and absorbing the influences of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, he began playing bars at age 16, ‘playing country, country rock, blues and classic rock in cover bands with guys who were 40 and 50 years old, and ‘got an education in Honkytonks, trial by fire.’ At 19 he was offered a contract in Los Angeles but disheartened by what he terms some ‘dirty contract dealings’ turned it down, returning to Ohio. Around 2000 he decided to get out of cover bands and started doing solo shows, learning to sing while building his own sound. ‘The Storm’, one of the tracks on the ‘The Crow The Creeper’ album, is a revisit from that time but with the added perspective of the intervening years.
‘The Storm’ track was originally an instrumental from another project I had written at 18/19 years old and which got me the offer in Los Angeles so I went way back on that one to see what a 40 year old me would do to it...and added the lyrics and vocals I was too shy at 19 to include.’
By the age of 25 the debilitating effects of dystonia, a little highlighted or acknowledged neurological disorder, became evident. ‘I would be driving and feel like someone was shoving my head forward from the back...then it came into my left arm and I would want to jerk the steering wheel as well.’ The muscle spasms began to hit him onstage and by the age of 34 the undiagnosed condition led Fleming into “self-medicating” through drinking and ultimately alcoholism. ‘If I stayed drunk it didn’t happen. Not good. I realised I had to stop drinking and when I did the dystonia put me DOWN...I would try and play sober and my entire body would move to the point I couldn’t hold the guitar much less play it.’ The condition eventually worsened to the point he was unable to walk for two weeks.
A slow progress of correct diagnosis, medication, and time eventually found him able to once more pick up his guitar and begin recording the influx of material which had developed through those dark times. ‘The better I became then I had an outpouring of writing. I had written and recorded quite a bit before the big crash but this became over two albums of writing...’ He also developed Regalia Records to release the Uncle Mont’s Quandry material.
The deliciously incongruent title ‘Sorrow in Full Strut’ reflects Fleming’s approach to his work. ‘Musically I go for the trance factor. Lyrically, I write about darker subjects, salvation to solid doom, the angels and demons of this life and that constant battle between the two.’ Check out the YouTube clip of Fleming live at the Feast of the Flowering Moon and you get a sense of the raw ‘trance’ factor behind his playing.
Uncle Mont, a two man (guitar/drums) project had a sparser sound than the new ‘The Crow The Creeper Sessions’ which moves to a richer rock blues feel with the use of double tracking of guitars and vocals on some tracks. Fleming chooses to stick with his roots but to break with my ragged is real” theory on songs like ‘Friek Girl’ while keeping with a sound as close to playing spontaneous and live on tracks like ‘Black Widow’ and ‘White Lightnin’’.
‘The Crow The Creeper Sessions’, the result of a long fourteen months of trying to pin down his recording, was initially anticipated to be Fleming’s last album due to his poor health. Fleming now sees it as symbolic of a reinvigoration of his life and his art, particularly over the last 12 months; a reflection of his determination to get on with music making for as long as he’s able and to ‘get down now what I want to say.’
Tracks ‘Dark Bird’ and ‘Black Widow’ are also revisits to older material. “I wanted to see how a band would play those or how I was feeling five or six years later taking another stab at re-approaching my own work.’ ‘Dark Bird’ carries an acoustic country blues feel, one of the many contrasts on the album.
While acknowledging a fusion of influences, Fleming doesn’t consider his work derivative, his sound ensured by his quirky, unique method of tuning. ‘I think God gives us this talent and we have our own voice that is immediately recognisable once we have weeded through the process of influences. It’s much like when as a child you learn to talk by repeating what you hear others use those same limited number of words. Then in your time you figure out how to use those words your way to say the same thing. Then if you are lucky you create a sound or statement that is identified as you and could only be you...I have gotten to the point that all my influences blended and my voice on the guitar has become solely my own. I also use the odd where I can’t pick up a standard tuned guitar and do much with it...most players would pick up my guitars and be lost.’
Based in Chillicothe, Fleming considers himself well and truly back on track, sober for four years, newly married and playing regularly; also recently arranging a benefit concert for the family of a deceased friend. There’s a sense of momentum, of lost ground to regain, a restoration of his journey.
Contrary to shying away from discussing the Dystonia, Fleming has a passion and a determination to raise the profile of the condition, and to show testament that it need not become the end of your art. ‘Too many Doctors are telling people...especially musicians “your career is over”’. While not speculating on his future, preferring to simply get on with the business of playing and recording, he acknowledges, ‘it is not without some struggles and finger crossing and weirdness that I take the stage for an hour to 4 hours. It must be part miracle...part voodoo and some sheer stubbornness’. Clearly keen to tour, particularly to Australia and the UK, and spread and develop his sound, Fleming is pragmatic about the rebuilding of his life slowly but surely. Enthusiastic and optimistic about his step out of some dark shadows, he also acknowledges it can be a day at a time journey.
For now Jimmy Fleming is content with being back, booked and ready to play some uniquely tuned sounds.
Jimmy Fleming, ‘The Crow The Creeper Sessions’ will be released on 1 September 2012.
Uncle Mont’s Quandry, ‘Sorrow in Full Strut’ is currently available through CD Baby
( Sue Miller is a Freelance Writer located in Adelaide, South Australia)published by Paris and

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