Jim Peterman making soulful music with Shane Pruitt

Published 3:00 am Friday, June 12, 2009

This is the continuation of the conversation with Jim Peterman from Wednesday&squo;s edition. Mostly you do the local gigs by yourself and if you&squo;re traveling it&squo;s for Shane Pruitt. That band is all of our main effort right now. Have you been recording? We recorded something a year ago and we were trying to be back in the studio this spring, but we didn&squo;t make it. If we&squo;re there by fall I wouldn&squo;t be surprised. We&squo;ve got maybe four originals that we could have together. On the last one, there are three. The last three on the CD were recorded at Smithe&squo;s Olde Bar in Atlanta. Up the skinny little staircase you carried&ellip; A Hammond B3. We recorded at a studio in Atlanta and then the guys that did it have a really nice remote rig and they brought that and know the guys that run the sound there so they could plug into the board mix and did a combination of both. You made the product and you carry the product with you? We sell them at shows. We&squo;ve got a pretty busy schedule. I work full time so I&squo;m fitting all this stuff in. Bill the drummer got laid off from his job after 27 years. He&squo;s a &dquo;gentleman of leisure&dquo; now. Shane does this full time for a living between teaching and playing. I&squo;ve decided that I just want to give up construction work and do this. This is what I love to do the most, but I haven&squo;t been involved since back in Wisconsin with anybody that was really worth going to pay to see regularly for a decent amount of money, but I think this band will become that. People want to know that if they spend their money, they&squo;re going to enjoy themselves. They don&squo;t go out to have a bad time. Or risk going out to have a bad time. You know I&squo;ve done the remodeling work for 38 years going on 39 and it&squo;s lost its glamour. This is so inviting. This trio just has brought out the best in all three of us. It&squo;s funny, I was in a band called Cocktail Frank and when that band broke up Bill the drummer and I put a group together with a bass player and Shane. We had played at the Nu-Way. That&squo;s kind of like the home base. I&squo;ve only been to the Hub Bub in Spartanburg. The Nu-Way is grittier, a roots place. I haven&squo;t been to the gritty side of Spartanburg yet. Anyway we played a gig there and it&squo;s always a great crowd and we always sound good there. You just feel comfortable to get down and the people there really like what we&squo;re doing. It was one of those nights where we just had a great night and the owner said we could stay if we wanted and play. The bass player Rick, a really good friend who does sound now for the Pruitt band, just wanted to go home. The three of us stayed until 4:30-5:00 in the morning. That&squo;s how the Shane Pruitt Band started. I was playing bass on the organ instead of having a bass player and we decided that wasn&squo;t too bad. That was all you needed. We got a couple of other gigs and then that was it. We were going with that trio. It&squo;s nice when you find the right balance. It is and it was one guy less so we could do more colorful experimental stuff. It was wonderful, it still is. That was three years ago. The thing about a good music show is that it does lift you up and take you a better mind set than when you walked in the door. If it&squo;s done its job, it&squo;s done that. You play blues because you feel it. I think all three of us have a pretty soulful connection to music that we play. We&squo;re not a flat out jam band, but with a little bit of a shell and then within that we go off. We&squo;ve got songs that have their space for a solo and the solos are always different. Then within the framework of our stuff, one song might go two or three different places that it never went before and it might last for a while, where the night before it was just what we usually do with it, but always expressive and spritely. That&squo;s really great. You surprise each other. Keeping tuned into each other, what we count on is playing off of each other. I think you&squo;re displaying a combination of three guys&squo; feelings that night. It&squo;s always a little different. Somebody might be up, somebody might be down, and somebody might be in a more rock and roll head or a jazz thing or whatever. It starts out and works itself into this thing with all three moving together with the other influences of the day or the week or whatever to create what it creates that night. It&squo;s not always extraordinary, but it&squo;s always good. How would you compare working with this group to working with Steve Miller? There was a jam part of that band as well just in the solo section, but the tune got pretty much played the same every night, which is like most bands. Then the solo part would be the interesting part and it could sometimes change and get really long. Curly Cook is way creative, he&squo;s one of my favorite people. He&squo;s a good rhythm and lead guitar player. He was kind of the guy in that group that initiated that stretching part of the tunes and he left early on because he and Steve couldn&squo;t get along. The form that he had created within those tunes we still played after he left allowed for a fair amount of improvisation and some change in tone and color of the song. Whenever you played it, it could be somewhat different. I was more just a player in that band doing the part that needed to be done. With this band the three of us are just there to inspire one another and play what comes out that night when you&squo;re playing. We still follow all of the form of a tune. A verse is a verse and all, but this band is just far more encouraging to intelligently follow your spontaneity along with the other guys to be creating something fresh. It&squo;s not always way new, not always completely different than it ever was before, but you&squo;re trying to respond to whatever the stimulus is. You&squo;re actually having a conversation on stage with sound. Yeah. You can come back and listen every time they play because&ellip; &ellip;it&squo;s not the same show. I would say that&squo;s where we are. Consequently I&squo;ve been a weekend warrior forever. I got divorced three years ago. My wife enjoyed my music, but she just wasn&squo;t ever up for going out and watching it. Not to get into my divorce, but just to relate to that, once I was not in that environment anymore and I was playing a lot. I kept my business going, I never let that suffer. I&squo;ve really blossomed in the last three or four years far more than I ever thought I would. I&squo;m a good player, a good group player, a good singer. I&squo;ve always got enough to offer that I&squo;d be able to play with somebody and have a good time. I&squo;m singing and playing far stronger than I ever did before. I wouldn&squo;t advocate divorce for any reason for anyone, but just that change in arena, responsibility, being able to have music as more of a focus, and then falling in line with these three guys it&squo;s been wonderful. It&squo;s really important to me now. I&squo;ve always loved music, but there&squo;s an opportunity now to really develop myself as far as I choose to develop which wasn&squo;t there before when I was married because it just wasn&squo;t in the scheme of things. An artist&squo;s lifestyle, even if they have a day job is hard on the traditional family unit. It takes an understanding partner to juggle a routine that is not just the regular 9 to 5. It&squo;s not normal. Look at Charlie Parker. He had this lady &dquo;The Duchess.&dquo; She was probably just the queen of heavy weights as far as being the right person to be with a jazz musician. I think she saw the genius in Charlie Parker and she loved who he was. At times it was argumentative or contrary, but she was there for a long time through t
hat situation. That&squo;s a rare person. It could well have been that you never would have heard as much of Charlie Parker as you did without the Duchess having been involved helping it happen and loving it. I remember Pat going with me to a Tuesday night thing and a Thursday night thing and I grew more in that first year than I ever thought that I would have. It&squo;s funny because it was the same me and the same fingers you know, but it was a different frame of mind. I didn&squo;t feel held back. This whole different deal was like running with light shoes and not heavy shoes. I really like the way that I stand with music at this point. That sounds like a good place to be. You&squo;ve got the band and if nothing else every other Tuesday at Lilac Wine Bar. I&squo;ve developed more singing there than I have in a long time. It&squo;s quieter. People can hear you and you can really feel the room more. If the music&squo;s really loud and you&squo;ve got a lot of lights on you it&squo;s hard to get a very intimate feel of how the people are responding to what you are doing. The Wine Bar is this really nice alternative where you know almost all the people who are in there anyway. You know they&squo;re pretty much in there because they want to hear you play and sing. I love that. It&squo;s not like you&squo;re hitting replay on the same CD that you heard the last time you were there. That&squo;s part of the thing with music is keeping your stuff fresh. With the Wine Bar I&squo;m kind of running through all the old stuff I&squo;ve ever done, some of it in a different way. I need to learn some new material, which is great. That&squo;s wonderful that a gig promotes that. Benton Wharton played a couple times with me at the Wine Bar. He&squo;s our manager now with the Shane Pruitt Band. Last Tuesday we didn&squo;t have anybody there. I was disappointed, but that happens. What would have happened to me ten years ago, I probably would have been so discouraged from the situation, but now every chance you get to sit down with another musician and play for two hours is a good situation. It would be great if there were thirty people there that were all going crazy, but if there&squo;s six and they&squo;re not getting in your way at the least and enjoying it at best the two of you still have that opportunity to relate and play good music. That&squo;s learning for me too. I&squo;m getting there. How big that crowd is doesn&squo;t really make a difference, but how well you&squo;re playing, that&squo;s what it is. Besides Tuesdays, is there another place people can track you down? If they go to Bill Fletcher&squo;s MySpace he seems to be keeping up with his site. The Shane Pruitt Band website is going through some changes now that Benton Wharton is involved. We&squo;ll be at the Music Camp with Belleville Outfit. They&squo;re putting the show together. We&squo;ve played with them a few times when they&squo;ve come to town. That&squo;s going to be a lot of fun. They have a website for that festival www.themusiccamp.com. I know some Tryon folks are headed down to camp next weekend at that. In the meantime bite into one of the tasty groups at Harmon Field this weekend for the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival. Jim Peterman will be playing the Main Stage with the Shane Pruitt Band at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday. &bsp;

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