Jim Carr

DSC_2840

Jim Carr @  The Trans Europe Cafe, Glasgow

Bass

Influences

Jack Bruce, Geddy Lee, Martin Turner, Boz Burrell

Interview

Kirk: Was it always the bass that you wanted to play right from the start?

Jim: No, I’d loved the guitar and the drums.  I’d always wanted to play the drums but it didn’t seem to be an option when I was growing up.

I’ve got a story about promoting Ted McKenna from about 5 years ago.  I contacted him and asked if he would like to put on a drum clinic up in Loch Lomond.  At the time, it was meant to be an intimate event with about 40 attendees in the Head Quarters of the Loch Lomond National Park but on the day, it was so popular that I had to book the bigger of the two conference rooms on site as we had double the anticipated audience.

Kirk: What prompted you to set that up?

Jim: It was just an idea I’d had, I thought it would be popular and as I say, I’ve always loved the drums. I did all the promotion, advertising and venue booking consulting with Ted all the way.

It was a fantastic day and quite educational from the viewpoint of some of the pitfalls of being a professional musician.  Between sessions he would relate stories of being on the road, the successes he had and certain stories about the darker side of the music industry back then.

Kirk: So, you did it all yourself?

Jim. Yes, I sent Ted a message and then he phoned me.  He asked me “Have you ever done anything like this before?” I assured him that I’d set up a few events in the past that had all been a success and he went for it so we  worked together on it.   It really went well and I’ve been asked by several people when we could do it again.

We discussed doing further clinics but it was at that time that Gerry McAvoy got in touch with him and asked him to join “Band of Friends” and all of a sudden, he was back to doing what he does best, which is being a full-time musician.

I’ve met him again a good couple of times since and he’s always said “I’m watching you!”, meaning he’s keeping track of the progress of the band.  Basically, giving us a “well done” on some of the gigs that we are playing.

Kirk: Is promotion part of your every day job?

Jim: Not really no. I’m a joiner.  I run my own business so I guess there is an element of self-promotion involved.

Kirk: Have you ever turned you wood-working skills to making your own bass?

Jim: It’s something I have tried in the past by doing a custom job on an existing bass and I failed miserably on it.  I’d started out with a view of making this the perfect bass for me but it didn’t really fire me and I soon got to the point where I wasn’t really enjoying it so up into the loft it went.

Several years later I was offloading some of my bass equipment and was asked if I had anything else for sale.  I brought down the “Custom Job” and the guy absolutely loved it.  He asked, “Is this for sale?”. To which I replied, “It certainly is!”.

It sounded fantastic and from a distance it looked not bad but I was happy to get rid of it.  It had just been gathering dust in the loft.

Kirk: So, that’s a bit about drums and a bit about bass but you started on the guitar, didn’t you?

Jim: Yes, when I was 15 I had a neighbour that was an exceptionally good acoustic guitar player.  He played Bert Jansch and that kind of stuff.  I had seen Cat Stevens playing acoustic guitar on TV.  I’ll be honest and say the Blues was not my first love, I can’t say that I saw BB King and had to play it or anything like that.  It was nothing remotely like that.  I watched Cat Stevens play and I thought “That’s what I want to do.”  So, I went over to Donny, my neighbour and told him that I’d bought a guitar but that I had no idea what to do with it.  I ended up going to him for lessons for 2 years learning guitar and I loved it.

Then one day, a guy at my work came in and gave me a Wishbone Ash album and he also gave me the Sensational Alex Harvey album “Next” and said that I should listen to them.

When I heard Martin Turner playing bass that was the first time it ever registered that the bass was an actual instrument and I realised what you could do with it.  The bass playing was outstanding.  That was it!  The guitar playing stopped and I moved onto bass.

Kirk: Wishbone Ash back then, I guess, were moving about a bit between Folk and Blues. Were they parting of the influence in you moving more toward the Blues/Rock style of playing?

Jim: I guess my first experience was when I got my first Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits album.  The original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green.  That was my first Blues purchase.  As time went on I became more and more influenced by players that you could pick out as having dedicated a great deal of time and effort into what they were playing.  Original sounding guys.  For example, Geddy Lee form Rush, not only because he was an amazing bass player but he also spoke about Jack Bruce being one of his influences.  I think Jack Bruce and Chris Squire were his main two influences.  So that in turn promoted me to pursue some of the music that had inspired him.

Another great player that inspired me was Boz Burrell in Bad Company.  What a player!  But Jack Bruce will always be the main man.

DSC_2868

Jack Bruce bass string bracelet inset with Sapphire and Ruby

Kirk: Tell me a bit about the bracelet you talked about earlier

Jim: This is made from one of the strings from a bass that Jack Bruce owned.  My friend Ronnie Garrity bought the bass from Jack Bruce’s wife after he died.  She was moving abroad and needed to downsize and she was auctioning some of Jack’s belongings. He was cleaned the bass up and as part of that project it was being restrung.  There were 3 bracelets made from the strings.  Ronnie had one made from the E and A strings combined, he had one made for Al Flemming from the D string and had one made for me from the G.

DSC_2865

Jack Bruce bass string bracelet inset with Sapphire and Ruby

Kirk: What are the jewels?

Jim: On one side, there is a ruby and on the other there is a sapphire.

Kirk: It’s beautiful! I never seen anything like that before.  What a great thing for you all to have.

Jim: I’d no idea that I was getting it.  He phoned me one Saturday and took me to a jeweller on Great Western Road and they took a measurement of my wrist and he told me at that point what he was going to give me.

Kirk: You’ve played in bands just about your whole life Jim. You talked about Ted McKenna’s tales of being on the road.  Have you any stories yourself?

Jim: More than I care to mention and most are probably not suitable for publishing on the internet.  The early days down in London were fantastic.  It was just so much fun!  My memories are of crying with laughter just about every day from the things we were getting up to from about 1980 onwards.

We went down to London to try and “make it” on several occasions and tried to get a foot in the door with the record companies.

Once upon a time you used to be able to book an appointment and go around the various record companies.  The first time I went down was for about 3 days.  Just me and my long time  friend, Paul Murdoch the guitar.   We had the same views on music right from the start. We thought the same way and played well together.  There was a great understanding between us musically.

So, down we went and we got told about who we were up against and the kinds of artists that we were in competition with and that they had enough of that particular genre so “Goodbye”!

Another time I was phoning Virgin Records for an appointment.  I really slipped up on this one, if I’d been a bit sharper I could have turned it to my advantage but anyway.  I got through and the person on the other end of the phone said “Hello, who is it?”.  And I replied, “It’s Jim Carr.”

Now at that time Jim Kerr from the simple minds was signed to Virgin Records so she starts with “Hi Jim, how are you?” and just started blethering away.  Instead of me saying “I have a couple of guys coming down from Glasgow that are good friends of mine and excellent musicians, I would like you to have a good listen to them.”  Dumpling here says, “Actually my name is Jim Carr, not Jim Kerr” at which point I was put on hold and nothing happened.

Kirk:  That could have worked you know.

Jim: I know, I was kicking myself after it!

Kirk:  You should have phoned back and said, “Hello this is Jim Kerr, I believe you just spoke to my mate, Jim Carr!” (laughs)

DSC_2845-Edit-Edit

Jim Carr @ The Trans Europe Cafe, Glasgow

Jim: Another time we went into WEA Records and the guy asked us to sit down and he put our cassette on and the volume was very low and then the phone went and he started talking to a guy about his mortgage.  He was laying back in his chair with his feet on the desk.  So, he’s talking away about his mortgage and all of his finances, while our music is playing and then he puts the phone down and switches the cassette off and says, “You guys are up against the Robert Palmers of this world.” And then went on to knock us down.

At which point I replied “What the **** do you know!?  I could tell you more about your finances and your house than you could tell me about our music!”

“I think you should leave”, he says and I reply, “Of course we should leave because you’re going to do absolutely **** all for us!”

When we got outside and Paul asked, “Why did you do that?”.  I’d done it for all the right reasons.  He couldn’t hear our music but we could hear his conversation and he needed to know that he had been out of order.

So, we decided to drown our sorrows and I had arranged to meet up with Ronnie, the guy that gave me the bracelet.  He had gone down to London to become a professional musician.  We arranged to meet him in Finsbury Park but we couldn’t find him so promptly proceeded to get out of our minds on drink by way of some sort of consolation after the day’s activities.

We came out of the pub and had no idea where we were.  Now, believe it or not, we were staying in a Franciscan Monks Priory.

Kirk:  How did you get in there?

Jim: Well, Paul, the guy that I was with, his parents were heavily into the Church and had a lot of friends in the Church.  They were very good friends with the head Monk in this place.

We got in about 3.30 in the morning and they were sitting up waiting on us, worried sick.  And there we were, steamin’.

So that was the first trip to London in search of fame and fortune.

We went down again 3 or 4 times after that and although some of the visits were a car-crash musically we always had a great laugh.

We were together for about 9 years.  We got on so well that a lot of people mistook us for brothers.

We had regular gigs in Glasgow.  The Burns Howf, The Dial Inn, the Bungalow in Paisley.  We had a residency there for some time.  We did 50/50 on original material and covers.

We self-financed a single and were doing well with radio play but then eventually, life took a couple of turns and we both moved onto different things.  Paul is now doing well as an author.

Kirk: What happened after you stopped playing?

Jim: I took a break.  Life got very busy, what with getting married and starting a family and I put the bass down for a while to enjoy all of that.  I still enjoyed listening to music but as far as live playing and recording was concerned I decided to let that go for a wee while.

Kirk: What happened to bring you back into the live scene?

Jim: I walked into The Scotia Bar 11 years ago and saw Jim Kielt playing guitar.  The band that he played were outstanding and his guitar playing was exceptional.  I introduced myself to them by way of buying their CD and asked them if they would play at my 50th Birthday Party.  They were a bit reluctant as they had never really done that kind of gig before and were a bit concerned that they weren’t the right band for me.  I assured them that all my friends were music people and I guaranteed that they would love it.  So, they played at the party and I went up and played along.

He then introduced me to Brian Rawson as he felt that we both had the same ideas on what we wanted to do musically i.e. Blues/Rock/Jazz/Soul feel.

DSC_2838-Edit

Jim Carr @ The Trans Europe Cafe, Glasgow

Brian and I came here (Trans Europe Café) on a Saturday afternoon and we sat and talked about the kind of things what we would like to do and it’s been me and Brian ever since.  We have been surrounded by many various outstanding musicians over the time we’ve been together but for whatever reason people have moved on, as they tend to do in bands, but Brian and I had kept the band going.  I do like to be part of something and I tend not to give up easily and Brian is the same so we have made it work.

We have had some great gigs up and down the length of the country and played some fantastic festivals and had a lot of good slots with great memories along the way.  When you saw us, we had Callum and Tamira in the band, who you met when you did the album cover shoot.

Callum was an exceptional drummer and in my opinion Tamira was a complete “Class Act”.

Last year we had another change and again we moved on and we now have new guys in.  We have a new singer, keyboard player and drummer.  We had our first full band rehearsal last week.  Everyone came in after doing their respective homework and I have to say, that old feeling came back when I was driving back from the rehearsal.  These guys are good!  If we can sound like that at the first rehearsal after never really having met before then this can be something worth doing.

We are going down to a wee Blues club in Fleetwood for a warm-up gig before moving on to the HRH Blues Festival in Sheffield and then there are a couple of other festivals that are already in the bag.  We are also supporting Chantelle MacGregor in the ABC.  So, all good.

Kirk:  All sounding very positive for the future Jim.  Thanks for taking the time out for a chat and a photo.

This is the edited version of the interview.  There were tales of Jim being on the road in London with some Glasgow “Compadres” that would take up the same amount of space.  Car chases, inventive ways of procuring supplies, fuel and cash.  Stories around the kind of places that the guys shacked up in and what sorts of businesses operated throughout the night in those places.  Stories of how London didn’t quite know how to handle 4 young guys from Glasgow when there was a “free bar”.

There are two threads that run through the interview and these are “Commitment” and “Having a Laugh” and I certainly had my share of the latter during this interview.

And when we parted company Jim announces, “We’ll need to get together one night and I’ll tell you about the other stuff.  The stuff you canny print!”

The mind boggles!

DSC_2869

Jack Bruce bass string bracelet inset with Sapphire and Ruby

Date: 03/02/2018

Location

Thanks to Tony and staff at Trans Europe Cafe for making us so welcome.  This is a great place to chill out and the food is superb.  Tony will give you a warm welcome and the atmosphere and surroundings are perfect for an informal get together.

Advertisements