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Jimi "Prime Time" Smith
Live @ Famous Dave's
by Ray Stiles

Jimi Smith
Photo 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
So what is one of the best-kept secrets in the Twin Cities blues community? It just might be Jimi Smith and the Prime Time Players who perform (at no cover charge) just about every weekend at Blues Alley in downtown Minneapolis (across from the Target Center on 7th St.).

Jimi Smith and the Prime Time Players opened for Coco Montoya a few months ago at Famous Dave's and literally blew the audience away with their high energy performance. In fact, they made it pretty hard for Montoya to follow. As Smith and Pockets said in the interview from last month's Twin Cities Blues News, when you get on stage its "show time!" Its time to put away all your concerns and play your heart out, which is just what they did that night. Montoya even said after the show that he was so fed up with his own performance that night that he was going to hang up his guitar. I have seen Coco several times during this past year and this particular performance may not have been his best, but it was still pretty darn good - it's hard for someone of his caliber to not put on a good show. I'm sure some of his displeasure was also from having to follow Smith and company who were "smokin'" that night.

Jimi Smith, decked out in his purple Nehru jacket, flashy jewelry and crystal hanging around his neck, puts on a guitar display that can be pretty amazing at times. He has a deft touch and plays with a spirit and feeling that easily grabs any audience and holds them for the entire performance. He has a naturally wicked vibrato and can play the slide with an intensity that keeps the audience riveted to his fretboard. Jimi also likes to occasionally get out in the audience and play right to the people, which always generates a warm response. Smith is also not limited to playing just one way, as many are prone to do today. He can play a slow and soulful solo or jump right out at the audience with his staccato like licks that sizzle like grease on a hot skillet.

During this particular performance the band played many of the songs from their brand new album "Give Me Wings" (Atomic Theory ATM 1142, distributed by Rounder on October 27, 1998). Donald "Hye Pockets" Robertson on drums and Smith on guitar have an almost telepathic communication in their playing - they always know where the other is going and are right there ready to play off of each other, serving up one of the tightest units on stage today. Joining them to round out this excellent blues combo are long time blues veterans Michael Pendergast on keyboards and Mick Massoff on bass.

The band will be having their CD release party at Blues Alley, November 13 and 14, 1998 and will be back at Famous Dave's on November 28th. So if you are looking for an entertaining evening of top-notch blues Jimi Smith and the Prime Time Players is a sure bet.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.