I thought I had first discovered the music of Will Kimbrough when I was taken with his song “Chimayo.” Hearing this on Lightning 100 led me to buy his 2000 debut solo record “This”. However, I later realized that he was the “Will” in Will and the Bushman who I had known through MTV in the 80s.
Fasting forward to today, it’s easy to nominate Kimbrough for Music City’s “Most Valuable Musical Player.” In addition to his continual string of solo records, he is currently active with two bands: Daddy (with his old pal Tommy Womack) and Willie Sugarcapps (with fellow Alabaman Grayson Capps). Will is also much in demand as both a session and stage guitarist. And if that isn’t enough, these days he is also one of the town’s “go-to” producers, and as a songwriter, artists like Jimmy Buffet, Little Feat and Todd Snider have been keeping his mailbox full of money!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that in 1993, Will, along with Womack, Mike “Grimey” Grimes and Tommy Meyer, recorded a legendary album for John Prine’s Oh Boy label as The Bis-quits. It is one of my favorite records to ever come out of Nashville, and one you should seek out.
So, thanks Will for taking time out of your busy schedule to face these 11 Questions.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I am from Mobile, AL, way down on the Gulf Coast. I moved to Nashville in January 1988, with my band, Will and the Bushmen. We moved here because the music scene was so welcoming to us. The Gulf Coast scene, while very healthy, creative and happening right now, was pretty dead in the late 1980s, even in New Orleans.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital? I got my Mama to buy me Kiss Alive! at Sears, Roebuck in Mobile in 1975. I bought a vinyl reissue of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Echo quite recently at Grimey’s. I buy most of my music on vinyl although I do buy a lot of more digitally-oriented music (i.e. modern music, indie stuff recorded on computers) digitally, because it is more suited to the medium. I buy lots of old jazz, blues and country records on vinyl because I love the music, the musicians and the recordings.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen? My first concert was Aerosmith, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush and Henry Gross at Mobile Municipal Auditorium. Last may have been Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Joe Walsh at Bridgestone. I’ve been busy on my own tours and in the studio since then. Yes, it’s been a long work week!
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
If I read correctly, the Fairfield Four are not on the Music City Walk of Fame, correct me if I’m wrong. That’s absurd. Also, James Brown recorded at Starday Sound Studio, so James Brown.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza? The combination of coffee and pizza always gives me indigestion, so I take them separately at Fido or Bongo Java, and Pizza Perfect. I’m old school.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville? Daddy’s Let’s Do This to be released soon. After that, I’d say Hank Williams’ 40 Greatest Hits in a dead heat with James Brown “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Pt. 1 & 2)” and “Super Bad”, “Hot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)” and “I’m a Greedy Man,” all recorded at Starday Sound Studio on Dickerson Road!
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show? At home. The New Nashville is sadly lacking in late night food. RIP Mack’s Country Kitchen!
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you. Tommy Womack, Marshall Chapman, Mary Gautier. There are so many more. That’s a tough one, but Tommy for the long relationship and my respect for his distinct writing voice. Marshall for the same reasons. Mary because I want to hear all her new songs she wrote with soldiers! And Lord there are so many more.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town? Bluebird is still fun to me because people are forced to shut up and listen. I played in September with my buddy Phil Madeira, Emmylou Harris and Kacey Chambers. Wow. We play the Basement a lot, it’s fun. I play out of town 160 shows a year.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here? Bill Frisell. Gregory Porter. Greg Leisz. Lee Scratch Perry.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Daddy’s new record Let’s Do This will be released very soon. I look forward to folks’ reaction to this fine record as much as I look forward to more opportunities to play with Tommy and the other great musicians in the group.
I am currently producing records by Shemekia Copeland, Steve Poltz and about to produce a record by Kate Campbell. I am looking forward to the release of another record I helped produce by Jimmy Buffett (Buried Treasure), and I am enjoying watching the success of Radney Foster’s wonderful For You to See the Stars record that I produced.
I am finishing my next solo album, I Like It Down Here which is a love letter/come to Jesus conversation with the Deep South, my complicated and beautiful home land.
I look forward to playing The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm down in Lower Alabama, a venue that has been a musical and spiritual place of renewal for me for the past several years: the birthplace of Willie Sugarcapps and a place I’ve enjoyed jamming with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jontavious Willis, Jimbo Mathus, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Malcolm Holcomb, Mary Gautier, Willis Alan Ramsey, Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Randall Bramblett, Scott Boyer, Kinky Friedman and so many other great artists.
Looking forward to 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida.
Looking forward to working with the producers who bring me in on sessions, Neilson Hubbard in particular. He’s doing some of the best work in this town and has been forever.