Twin Cities' blues guitarist Jimi "Prime Time" Smith is currently leading the Prime Time Players who hold down the "house band" position at Blues Alley. Jimi Smith was born into a musical family in Chicago and moved to the Twin Cities in his late teens. The legendary Jimmy Reed tutored him on guitar when he was a teenager. Donald Robertson was born and raised in the Twin Cities and has been a drummer for many of the major blues performers since the late 60's.
The following interview took place over several days in June 1998 at Blues Alley prior to Jimi's and the band's regular weekend shows. Jimi Smith and Donald "Hyepockets" Robertson were present most of the time with Michael Pendergast joining at the end. Jimi and Pockets were a riot to talk to and both have a great sense of humor. They were also on the same wavelength most of the time. I would ask a question and they would both answer with almost the same words.
Ray: (As they were setting up for their regular weekend set at Blues Alley, I commented that this was the real life of the musician). You guys do all the set up and take down; you are the janitor, the roadie, and the musician...wearing all those hats...
Jimi: That's the part nobody ever sees. Everybody sees that time you're on stage, you're having fun, you're doing great, having a good time, yeah but you don't see that part when you got to work. We don't have the roadies and all that.
Pockets: It's not that we're anti roadie we just ain't there yet (laughs).
Ray: Jimi, where and when were you born?
Jimi: I was born in Chicago in 1959, to Andy and Johnnie Mae Smith. My mother, her musical name was Johnnie Mae Dunson, was one of the first female drummers. She played with a lot of the old cats, J.B. Hutto, Albert King, all of those guys came through when they first started out. Tina Turner, when she was with Ike, she was at the house when I was a little kid. (That's) basically where I came from man. (My mom) was managing Jimmy Reed at the time when I grew up. I knew Jimmy Reed as a little kid, you know,
(and my mom) wrote songs for him and had all the guys there like Wayne Phillips, Phil Upchurch, Fred Below, all those guys you know when they was rehearsing for albums or something doing with Jimmy. But I wasn't really into the music at that time. She was trying to make me into a singer when I was eight. At the age of eight I did my first recording, "Young Boy With The Blues." At that time I really wasn't into it. But when I got older.
Pockets: Yeah, about ten? (with a big laugh)
Jimi: Yeah, (laugh), 10 or 12, (more laughing). Jimmy Reed wanted to clean himself up and not drink anymore and get out of the drinking and get together, so he called my dad up and my dad put him in the hospital and helped him get clean. My mama started managing him. That was back in around '70. I started playing with him in '73. He was already teaching me when he was living in the house with my mom.
Ray: You were about 14 when you started playing with Reed?
Jimi: Yeah I was 14, I played my first major show at 14. Ann Arbor Blues Festival, 1973.
Ray: Who was on that show?
Jimi: On the show at that time was Ray Charles, Charles Mingus, Jimmy, I forget who all else was on there. But our slot was between Ray Charles and Charles Mingus and we (Reed and Smith) were late getting there, so our band was already there playing. So Charles Mingus was upset because we were cutting into his time. And when we got there we rushed up on stage and did 4 numbers and then we had to get off. Then the guy said no, you guys got to go back and do 2 more because everybody was dying for Jimmy Reed. So we went back and did two more tunes and got off. But I was frantic because this was my first show and as far as you can see was miles of people (gestures with hands and laughs). I'm frantic because the amp I was playing out of, there was nothing through it, I was like, "what's going on?" The roadie guys forgot to hook the head up to the speakers (it was a two piece combo).
(Pockets has a big laugh at this)
Jimi: (Laughing) You know I was 14, oh man...you know they were video taping it all...
Ray: Eddie Taylor wasn't with Reed at that time?
Jimi: No, Eddie Taylor wasn't with him at that time, he was out on the road doing his own routine. At that time there was Lazy Gibson on guitar, Johnnie Mae's on drums, something Pryor on bass, I can't remember his first name, then I was on second guitar.
Ray: How did you first learn the guitar?
Jimi: Jimmy Reed actually was the first one to teach me stuff on the guitar, of his style of playing. Eddie Taylor was probably one of the most influential people in my life as far as guitar playing (goes). He brought me into my own style of playing. He said playing this other style, Jimmy's style is great, but I'm going to get you into a thing where you can play your own style, you know, show you a lot of different other stuff to play. And after that I started listening to people. I started listening to B.B. King, Albert King, all the old cats, Buddy Guy and all those guys. Listening them and watching 'em. I never really basically went to school to read music ever, except when I was in High School playing trumpet, I played trumpet in High School, I read then. But after that when they found out I could play guitar they didn't want me playing trumpet anymore. (Laughs)
Ray: Was it fairly easy picking up music, playing the guitar?
Jimi: Yeah, it was fairly easy, I'd say the first 6 months of it was kind of difficult for me, because I was always down on myself because I couldn't get it, you know. And then when he (Reed) left me alone I just started playing and stuff started coming to me. (One time) my mom was in another room with Jimmy Reed and she said, "Jimmy, did you leave your stereo on or something?" He said, "naw." So they came up in the room and they said that's you playing? I said yeah. I was playing his stuff, you know, doing his music and everything. And he told me the only thing I can't teach you to do is to play the harmonica, because I don't know how I'm doing it myself. He said but I'm doing all three of these at once, I'm playing guitar, playing harmonica and I'm singing. He says if I could teach you how to do that I would but I can show what I'm doing on the guitar.
Ray: How old were you then?
Jimi: When he first started teaching me I was probably around 10 years old. I wanted to play with him earlier but my mom wouldn't let me because she said you got to stay in school. They were traveling all over at that time.
Ray: What happened after that festival in Ann Arbor?
Jimi: After the festival we went to Detroit, toured with Jimmy for awhile, we came back to Chicago, played at the High Chaparral, that was my last show playing with him in Chicago. Then I went back to school. Him and my mom took off and went to California. (Later) they broke their business end of it off. They remained friends over the years and he went with someone else for managing and stuff. He had moved out to California and my mother came back to Chicago, I think Eddie Taylor and a couple of other guys went out there to play with him. That's where he passed (away) out in California.
After that I started playing around town when I was about 17, 18 years old, in the blues clubs in Chicago. Playing with Big Walter Horton, Playboy Benson (?), Floyd Jones, all those guys. We had a thing on Sunday, Monday night we be at the BLUES on Halstead, that was about 1976, '77. I left Chicago in 1979 and moved here (Twin Cities), we came up to visit Lazy Bill Lucus, who was an old friend of the family. I started playing with Lazy Bill around town, and playing with Linwood Slim, harmonica player. We got a band together. Then eventually I hooked up and met Donald Robertson, Hyepockets I met...actually I met him at Moby's. (Both laugh)
Ray: Moby Dick's?
Jimi: Yeah, I was playin' pool and he was playing pool down there. We was messin' around down there. Next time I saw him he was playing drums with Luther Allison, I said hey that's that brother I met at Moby's. (Laughs) And I saw him down there at the Cabooze and I came up to him and I said do you remember me. He said hey, yeah, youngblood, how you doing? He didn't even know that I played (guitar) at all.
Pockets: Not at all, just playing pool.
Jimi: We was just playing pool and messin' around.
Ray: How did you end up staying in Minneapolis then?
Jimi: Well I got hooked up playing in the music scene and I liked the way the town was at the time. Yeah this was nice, a big change from Chicago for me.
Ray: What were some of the clubs you played in back then.
Jimi: Oh, the old Artists Quarter, it was on 26th and 1st, between Nicollet and 1st. We played at the Cabooze, Whiskey Junction back before it was Whiskey Junction when it was the Golden Leaf. The Blues Saloon back when it was Walebski's. We traveled all out of town too, we played a bunch of little towns that I had never heard of. Which was funny, one time we wound up in a town called Lynwood, Minnesota. I was playing with Lynwood Slim then, and I said hey man they named a town after you. That's kind of what got me staying here. I met Pat Hayes and we were talking, 'cause he was going to change guitar players at the time, but he wasn't sure. And that's how I hooked up with Slim after that. That was the early part of the 80's. Then Donald Robertson, he was playing with Luther, after he broke up with Luther, he was playing with Willie and the Bee's wasn't it?
Pockets: Willie and the Bee's, yeah, I played with them for a year then.
Ray: Do you remember a group called the West Bank Trackers?
Pockets: Yeah, definitely.
Ray: Where are those ladies. I've been trying to track them down for years? They were some singers.
Pockets: I have no idea what happened to those ladies. Yeah they were good. Yeah, I came back here in '83, '84, something like that. And played with the Bees for a year. And then hooked up with Jimi and Lynwood Slim.
Ray: What did you call yourselves then?
Pockets: It was Lynwood Slim and the Shuffle Time, something like that, we were just playing then
Jimi: Slim had a different name every now and then for the band but he always used his name first. After we broke off with Slim, he wanted to do some other stuff, Pockets and myself decided to do another band, kind of a funk band, blues and funk and R&B. We hooked up and got a band together called the R-Section. Which was with Mick Massoff and Pockets, (a sax player) and myself. We played around town then went over seas and did an album over in Germany.
Pockets: Got album of the year
Jimi: Yeah, got album of the year over there.
Ray: When was that?
Pockets: That was like '85, '86.
Ray: What was the name of the album?
Both: Not for Sale.
Jimi: Yeah it was the song he wrote about his cock (both break up laughing).
Pockets: Ohhhhh, yeah (they were laughing so hard I couldn't make out the rest).
Ray: Is it available now?
Pockets: No not at all.
Ray: Any good stuff on there? Did you resurrect some of that for the new album?
Jimi: No we didn't do that for the new album, I was thinking about doing that "Gee Baby."
Pockets: "Gee Baby," yeah that was a good tune.
Jimi: There was a lot a good stuff on there, there was some funk stuff on there too, so it really doesn't fit with this routine what we're doing right now. (it was) a little too funky. We do some funk but we're not really into the hard aggressive funk like a lot of them do. It's more of a bluesy type thing, kind of like an Albert Collins or Johnny Guitar Watson, that kind of stuff.
Pockets: We don't want to stray away from the blues, we can dibble dabble, in different cream cheese and different sauces, different this and that, but the main thing is blues. You know, as pure...I mean the real deal...not any of the "bull-shit" shit.
Ray: And what's that?
(Jimi was echoing almost word for word what pockets was saying at this point)
Both: The bull shit? All the pretence, humpty dumpty, and think all I have to do is do 12 bars but oh it gets boring so I don't want to play that any more and let's do something else.
Pockets: And that's what happened to a lot of people. You go down to the West Bank, that's why you don't see me on the West Bank any more, because you got those superficial people down there playing that superficial bullshit. Don't get me wrong...
Ray: You mean they're straying away from the 12 bar blues, is that what you're saying?
Pockets: It's not so much staying away from it, it's just the technique of playing it and HOW to play it and to create that emotion that the song is supposed to give you.
Jimi: Some people think that when you say blues, they go, "oh yeah blues, 12 bar, no problem we got it." But each 12 bar blues tune is different lines, different bass lines, different...
Pockets: Different dynamics...
Jimi: ...and a lot of players don't do that. A lot of bands don't do that. Lot of bands just look at a blues and say, "ah man this is just blues, you know play this." That ain't the case at all. You listen to Albert King and Albert Collins and BB King, all those were different styles.
Pockets: If you listen to those albums, they were creating emotion. That's why everybody hooked on to it, it was the emotion that got them, (snaps fingers), and they say damn I like that. You know, and the job was done, the job was done, if you can create that in the club you done your job. You know what I mean? If we can make people leave out of here laughing, happy, or crying, we've done our job. You know what I mean? That's what it's all about. Funk is one thing, funk is fun, but the blues (when played right is emotion).
Jimi: And we all play different styles of music but the blues is where...
Pockets: ...you will never find another emotional type of music then the blues and it s American made, one of the only two or three.
Jimi: A lot of them don't understand either. Lot of people saying, "man I don't like the blues." But if it wasn't for the blues you wouldn't have rock and roll, you wouldn't have the funk, you wouldn't have all this hard rock stuff they have, because they made all their money off if, they got all their style (from it). If you listen to almost every commercial now days, it's blues.
Pockets: Even Mac and cheese.
Jimi: Even Mac and cheese commercial is blues. Everybody's jumping on it now because they feel blues is cool, now we can do that. But see, we were doing blues when it wasn't cool for nobody to do it.
Ray: How long was the R-Section together?
Jimi: A little over two years. We disbanded, everybody wanted to do different stuff, and I started paying with Joel Johnson for awhile. I left from that to playing with Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants. Pockets was playing with Down Right Tight.
Pockets: Down Right Tight for about a year or so.
Ray With Dickerson?
Jimi: And I was with Big Walter, and actually we kind of missed each other, because I was trying to get him into the Big Walter band when I was in the Big Walter Band. It turned around that after I had some surgery on my shoulder, I wasn't playing for awhile, I took about a year off. And then Walter hired Pockets to play drums.
Pockets: We just missed each other.
Jimi: Man, we just missed each other. So when I was ready to play again he already had my job filled. Then I started playing with Joel Johnson again. He came down here (to Blues Alley) and I was playing with the guys down here, Mike Pendergast, Michael DuBois on drums, Paul Mayasich on guitar, myself on guitar. The True Blues Band down here at the time. We left from here, after about a couple of years, and started a band called the Rhythm Doctors, Paul Mayasich, John Wright, myself, and Jeff Rogers.
Ray: You put out one album with the Rhythm Doctors?
Jimi: We put one album out called "Malpractice," then there was some changes and Jeff wanted to do other things so we needed another drummer and Pockets was available and I was telling everybody about him. I said you should check him out because Paul had never heard of him. How can you have never heard of this man. You know, how could you NOT have heard of pockets. You know when you think of drums this is the first guy I think of. So we brought him in and they wanted him to audition. For me there was no audition, because I knew what he was going to do. So that was the new version of the Rhythm Doctors. We did another CD but it was never pressed, never released, which was a shame because that was a really good CD.
Pockets: Yeah that was a killer CD made down there at the old Metro Studio, which is Oarafin now.
Ray: Are those tapes still around?
Pockets: The original CD's around, the CD is a killer, a killer. Only a few copies though. But we never put it out. The Famous Dave's deal (started). It was like we were up for the Rhythm Doctors CD, we knew we got at least one or two hit's on that puppy, I should say at least 3 or 4 hit's on that puppy, and the Dave deal comes around. It wasn't our intention to abandon the Rhythm Doctors.
[Jimi and Pockets were part of the Famous Dave's Blues All-Stars which later changed its name to Big John Dickerson and Blue Chamber. They had one album released on Cannonball last year].
Jimi: You know sometime things just take over and it happens...we started that and got into that routine and played down at the club there for what about a year and a half. Actually that whole routine was together for over two years because we were in the studio...
Pockets: ...doing 4 CD's...
Jimi: ...with the All-Star routine
Pockets: If that deal was managed correctly, that would have been the hottest thing right now?
Pockets: We got that old Rhythm Doctors one waiting in the can.
Ray: You have a title for it?
Pockets: Was it called, Critical List.
Jimi: Now that you mention it yeah that's what it is.
Pockets: This new one that we did, you will hear what I'm talking about, when I talk about emotion, and playing the way that it's supposed to be played.
Ray: What's the title of this new one.
Jimi: That's another thing, at one time I was going to call it Live At Blues Alley, Give Me Wings.
Pockets: That's the name of it...that's the name of it...
Jimi: Ok, the record company (Atomic Theory) has a whole total different idea of what they want to do with it.
Jimi and Pockets: Recorded live right here.
Jimi: Nothing in the studio, the only thing that was done in the studio was they did the mixing, the editing and the mastering. In May 1998. Took two nights down here (Blues Alley), recorded both nights. Took the best of what was recorded out of both sets.
Pockets: Jack McDuff played on it. We got some real, real good stuff on there, blues and different styles of blues.
Ray: Original stuff?
Pockets: Original stuff, yes! Oh yeah, oh yeah. This I believe for us will be a bigger stepping stone, then the Rhythm Doctors CD, but I hate to have that Rhythm Doctors CD just laying there, because it's too good to just lay there.
Jimi: Just to show how it goes man, the show we did at Famous Dave's on Tuesday night's show (opening for Coco Montoya July 7th).
Ray: I know, you guys made it hard for Coco Montoya to follow you.
Ray: I heard afterward that Coco said he was going to give up playing, he played so bad that night. I think part of it was just following you guys, you guys were ON that night.
Jimi: That's because everybody was psyched for it man, everybody said look we got to go out and do our show. And that's the way I look at anytime you step on stage man...
Pockets: That's a philosophy...
Jimi: ...whether it's one or a thousand, you do your show, you know, play, play from the heart. Everything I play comes from the heart.
Pockets: I mean, we learned that as growing up as kids, you know playing with these big time people. Because he was playing with big time people as a kid and so did I. So it's like, you step on the stage...
In unison: ...IT's SHOW TIME!
Jimi & Pockets: Those were the words. You step on the stage it's SHOW TIME.
Jimi: Everything that would happen that day, if we got into a hassle or anything...
Both: ...when you step on stage, that's gone, It's show time...
Pockets: ...and you better connect, (laugh), you know. And sometimes I had difficulty playing with some people around the Twin Cities' area because they don't have that philosophy.
Jimi: Right, they bring all the baggage to the stage, you don't need to do that.
Jimi: When you hit the stage, you got your instrument in your hand lets go to work. It's show time.
Pockets: And you find you have so much fun
Jimi: You have so much fun man,
Pockets: Just forget about it.
Jimi: And you forget about everything else, by the time that show is over everybody done forgot about what they were mad about. (laugh)
Pockets: And you may have come up with a solution to your problem. (laughter)
Ray: Is that part of the reason you guys left the All Stars?
Jimi: Well, there was some management problems there...
Pockets: That's all, political...
Jimi: Real political, If it was up to us we probably would have been still there you know working with the routine. It was just some stuff that couldn't be worked out.
Pockets: We ain't going to go into names and bad mouth anybody, it doesn't make any sense.
Jimi: I've dealt with that and I've moved on and I'm lookin' to the future.
Ray: So when that ended you guys came back together here?
Pockets: Yeah, ain't going to stop playin'.
Jimi: Can't stop.
Ray: You told me last year when I asked if you were going to do any touring and you said, "I just get in my car and it's on automatic and comes right down here."
Pockets: (laughs) That's right, this is where I'm at.
Jimi: Eventually once the CD is out hopefully and we get some stuff going, we'd like to do some touring. We'd like to go over seas again.
Pockets: Yeah, eventually we will, this has been a real good grooming, preparation thing for us. We've been a little over a year and a half. It's good preparation you know. Low maintenance, no hassle, play, get yourself together. That's why we can go somewhere else and rock the house. At anybody's house!
Jimi: Anybody's house!
Pockets: And I'm talking ANYBODY -- we go to Chicago and rock the house.
Jimi: We've played together all over man. (Pockets) and I both have played with some major people, so we know what it's about. We all played with Buddy Guy, Albert King, Etta James...
Pockets: All of them...
Jimi: We toured together with Etta James and Albert King where we were their back up guys. If that's the case man, no body can't tell me I can't play. No body can't tell me THIS man can't play (pointing to Pockets).
Pockets: I played with them in Europe, I played with Memphis Slim in Canada, we did a thing over there. He wouldn't play with no body else, he usually played solo. I played with Luther Allison.
Ray: How long were you with Allison?
Pockets: Total of about 7 years. From like '77 to '83 and '84, something like that.
Ray: Was he still playing in Europe then?
Pockets & Jimi: (laugh)
Pockets: Weeeee rode Europe like a F***** white horse. (They both break up laughing). I mean, like a white horse man, shit. Up down, sideways 52 one nighters in a row. And I don't mean 20 miles driving to the next gig, I mean 500 miles. Pack that shit up in that little god damned Mercedes truck, through the mountains...
Ray: Was he doing the 3 or 4 hour one set shows then?
Pockets: No, 2 sets, and they'd usually last no longer than an hour per set. Normal rule there is 45 minutes. But, it got to be by 1980 it was 6 months in Europe and 6 months in the States. I had a flat in Paris.
Ray: Was Solberg with him at that time?
Pockets: He was in and out.
Jimi: He had a lot different guitar players. Bob Bingham, who was playing with Lynwood Slim and I, he left and went over with him.
Pockets: Bobo. Bobo is bad.
Ray: Where were you born?
Pockets: I was born right here.
Ray: Here in the Twin Cities? When was that?
Pockets: I ain't telling you. (they both break up laughing like little kids). No, 1952.
Ray: You're a young guy then.
Pockets: Thank you. Yeah I was born here. My dad came up here and got a job first with the railroad and then brought my mom up here (from Louisiana). And then they moved back down there when I was a kid, for a while for some odd reason I don't know. I still ain't got that right. And then we moved back up here when I was about 5, 6, I went to Kindergarten, I started school up here. Been up here ever since.
Ray: How were you exposed to the blues then?
Pockets: My family played. Playing on the back porch.
Ray: They're musicians?
Pockets: Yeah, yeah I got all kinds of musicians in there...
Jimi: Oh man he got some substance...
Pockets: And my mom, the church going woman that she is. I got 5 sisters, she had em all singing AND me. We'd be in the church singing gospel. And then my uncles, man they'd pull out the guitar and we start singing blues, start doing blues.
Ray: Did they play in any groups?
Pockets: They had groups in Louisiana, in Shreveport. There was a group, what the hell was that group called. Something Blues Rats...(laughs). But they were bad. That's how I really got (hooked), because, like damn, they were jumping.
Ray: When did you get started playing the drums?
Pockets: My mom bought my first set when I was 9 but I had been playing drums in school and stuff, just single snare drum. But I got my first set when I was 9 and went on the road when I was 14 with the Coasters and the Drifters.
Ray: How did you hook up with them?
Pockets: Actually through my cousin. He took me down to the Marigold Ballroom, they were down there and they were looking for a drummer. He said my cousin been playing. So we played for them. I was with this other group Keno Gibson and the Internationals. Little K and Internationals. I don't know if you remember that. That was back when Michael's Mystics and all those bands, stuff was happening.
Ray: Danny's Reasons?
Pockets: Danny's Reasons, yup all that stuff. So that band went on the road and backed up the Coasters and the Drifters. That was quite an experience. We got to Spokane, Washington and they didn't pay me so I left. (Laughs).
Ray: How old were you then?
Pockets: 14. I called home, "MA, they didn't pay me." (laughs)
Ray: So what did you do after that (late '60's)?
Pockets: Just playing in groups around here, bullshit around and learned how to play better.
Ray: How did you hook up with Willie Murphy?
Pockets: I knew Murphy from awhile back. After I got off the road (with Luther Allison in the '80's) I had a meeting with him and I talked him into the idea of having 2 drummers. Howard Merryweather and me. And he went for it.
Ray: Back when you were playing at the Cedar Riverside?
Pockets: Cedar Riverside, you got it yeah.
Ray: I was at some of those shows.
Pockets: Yeah. Did you see some of those? Willie and the Bee's man, that was cool, I mean I had a lot of fun in that group (that was back, the last year was '84). After that it's all history. What you're hearing now, this is the concentration (of all those years). I did that for a year and like Jimi said we were (playing around with different stuff). But the thing was always to play and get something out of it. I mean we got to accomplish something out of this thing.
Ray: When did you guys first meet then?
Jimi: I didn't come here until '79.
Pockets: I just came home a couple of days (off the road)...
Jimi: I'd say it had to be around '80 or '81, something like that, him and I met at Moby Dicks. What attracted to me to the dude was...I had never seen a brother in my life now...
Pockets: Don't believe him, he's lying man...
Jimi: Now listen to this, when he HAD hair, which he don't have no more (both laugh). He had what they call a curl, right, kind of like straight hair with a little curl like mine but it was pure white, I mean WHITE. He's got these hazel like eyes, you know and his hair was like something you'd see in one of the old Louisiana movies, out on the bayou and stuff (laughs). So I'm talking to this brother, shooting some pool we got to talking and stuff...
Ray: White hair?
Pockets: I ain't going to tell you why (laughter). You don't need to know that...I don't know why you listen to him (more laughter).
Jimi: We were just shooting pool and all that and I said I'll see you around. The next time I saw him was at the Cabooze. I went to see Luther Allison at the Cabooze. Because I had known about Luther since I was a little kid but I had never seen him live. I get to the Cabooze and here is Luther Allison and here is the guy I was playing pool with. I said hey man you remember me? He goes hey man, what's happening? So we got to talking and stuff.
Pockets: I never knew he played guitar.
Jimi: He never knew I played guitar.
Pockets: He ain't' said nothin' about it...
Jimi: I ain't said nothin'...and the next time they were in town, at the show, because Luther knew me through my mom when I was a little kid and stuff growing up. He said hey man how you doing? Yeah youngblood I kind of remember, you look kind of familiar. I start to talking to him about my background and stuff. They was up on stage and at the end of the night he says come on up and play one. So I got up there and he gave me his guitar and he did his usuall thing, like he was going to do an encore? (Pockets breaks out in a high pitched laughter at this point). Luther gets on stage and he counted off, one, two, one, two, three, boom (claps his hands)...good night...(both burst out laughing). I said ah man that's...(couldn't make out what he said)...I don't believe you son's of bitches. But we hung out for awhile. The next time I hooked up with Luther, he was back in town and I was playing with Big Walter. We were up in Duluth for the Blues Festival. Luther was at the festival. We were playing at the Incline Station and Luther came through and we played together. Big Walter has pictures of that show. So (Pockets) has been like my big brother ever since the first time I met him.
Ray: So when did he change his hair color then?
Pockets: I got my shit cut off.
Jimi: He kept cutting it off...(laughter)
Pockets: No man, it just turned like that, I don't know why it did that.
Ray: You didn't color it?
Jimi: No, actually the chemicals from the curls that he used turned his hair white.
Pockets: And I got green eyes...I looked liked Kay Jones, you know Creole...that was real obvious that night.
Ray: Kay Jones?
Pockets: Shut up, you don't know...(laughs).
Jimi: But we hooked up and man it's been like a magic kind of thing. We just kind of always gelled.
Jimi: No matter what, he's been somebody I can depend on and I've been somebody he can depend on.
Pockets: Exactly, Jimi to me has been like a brother I always wanted to have, you know what I mean. It hit you know.
Jimi: We've helped each other out through the years...
Pockets: When we're playing we don't have to look...
Jimi: We don't even have to look at each other...
Pockets: We know, we know it...
Jimi: And that's what shocked him the first time I played with him. We were playing something and he hits a run on the drums (demonstrates) and I caught him and did the same thing with him (on the guitar) and he's like (makes a face), huum, how did you do that? (Laughs)
Pockets: I said oh, oh, and ever since then...
Jimi: Kind of like the 4 of us now (in the current band) we just kind of jell. We don't even have to look at each other half the time. We all kind of know what's going to happen. You can feel it. That comes with some experience. When you're playing around and playing with different people, playing with some major cats that know what to do. We all just tap our resources and it becomes (automatic).
Ray: Who gave you the name pockets?
Pockets: My old man.
Pockets: Because I was taller than he was.
Ray: Tell me about it?
Jimi: (Laughing) Here it comes, I knew it was going to come out sooner or later.
Ray: It had nothing to do with drumming then?
Pockets: No, I was TALLER than he was. He was only 5 foot 8, the little short shit. But he was 5 by 5 he was a big mother F* you know. By the time I was like 12 or 13 I was tall, I was just about as tall as I am now. And he called me high pockets, because the back pockets was so high. (Jimi laughs). But it eventually got cut down to pockets, but it's still hye pockets. It's just a different name now. The ability to maintain an intensified groove -- hye pockets -- in the dictionary.
Ray: In the dictionary?
Pockets: Yeah, it's gonna be (laughs).
Ray: Sonnyboy Lee has a web page on you.
Pockets: Antares, that's Daemon Lee. We played back here...I forgot all about that era. (laughs)
Jimi: We could sit down for hours and talk...
Pocket: Daemon Lee, Joe Shuroman, Big Walter Smith and myself, Antares, like the star, we played down at Papa Joe's over on north Broadway.
Ray: When was that?
Pockets: That was ... late '60's, hippie days, drugs... (laughs)
Part two of this interview w/Jimi Smith