Catching up with Jimbo Mathus

Written by Jason Jefferies


Music Maker Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jimbo Mathus will be visiting our new recording studio in Fountain, NC in mid-May to work on a new recording by Earnest “Guitar” Roy, a bluesman from Clarksdale, Mississippi.

“I enjoy playing with older people,” Jimbo Mathus says. “I always have. I learn constantly from those types of relationships.”

“A lot of the artists I work with are coming from rural or fringe environments,” Jimbo continues. “Which I can relate to. I like to see what makes them tick, and then we just run through the material, figure out the keys and the chords and the arrangements. I really just try to be support for them, these artists who maybe haven’t had experience on big stages at big events. I just try to be someone they can trust. Establishing trust is huge. It’s usually pretty easy after that.”

“But when I’m doing a record, it’s that process but even more refined, because you want the music to be presented clearly, succinctly, and to the advantage of these artists.”

When asked how he was introduced to Music Maker Foundation, Jimbo recalls his days as a centerpiece of the Chapel Hill music scene in the 1990s.

“I’ve been familiar with MMF since my time when I lived in the Carolinas. I was always poring through their records and getting ideas for songs from their artists. Carl Rutherford and some of the early records they put out. Greg Smalls. All of the initial records they put out. And then I have been backing up their artists in Telluride for many years. Robert Finley. Glorifying Vines. Also doing some producing for them. I was one of the producers on the Robert Finley record. I’m just really interested in working with yhem in any capacity that I am needed because I believe in the mission and the people involved in Music Maker. I just think it is a great organization and one that really fits in with the way I feel about music and what my role is in music today.”

“A lot of the artists I work with are coming from rural or fringe environments. Which I can relate to. I like to see what makes them tick.”

Presently, Jimbo is working at Jim Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch studio in Mississippi, picking up a few projects that Jim left off when he passed away. He is also rehearsing a new show with the Squirrel Nut Zippers called ‘Jazz from the Back O’ Town’, and recording a live record for Single Lock Records in Little Rock, Arkansas that will be finished in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The sessions in Music Maker Foundation’s studio in Fountain, NC are set to begin in mid-May.