Jimmie’s Chicken Shack
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack
Alternative rock band
The music produced by the high energy four piece band, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (JCS), is anything but tame. They combine the heavy metal, post-grunge, funk, jazz fusion, alternative rock sound of guitars, vocals, bass, and drums with humorous lyrics and serious subjects like AIDS and drug use. Vocalist, Jimi HaHa described JCS’s sound in an A&M press release, “It’s funky without being funk, punky without being punk, hard without being hardcore, metallic without being metal, bluesy without being blues, and poppy without being pop.” Their rocking, rolling, explosive sound has also been called “mutt rock,” according to John Ferguson of the Intelligencer Journal, because of the wide variety of musical styles it incorporates.
Since the band formed in 1992, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack has performed frequently in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States. And despite signing with a major record company in 1996, the group vowed to continue it’s commitment to the local Baltimore, Maryland/Washington, D.C. music scene. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack founded the independent label, Fowl Records, and released
Members include Jimmy Chaney , drums; Dave Dowling , guitar; Jimi HaHa (born James Davies), guitar, vocals; Che Colovita Lemon , bass; Jimmy McD , guitar.
Group formed in 1992 in Annapolis, MD; performed at local clubs and festivals; founded independent label, Fowl Records; released two live albums, Chicken Scratch, 1994, and Spit Burger Lottery, 1995 which were later combined and released on one CJ, Two for One Special (Fowl); recorded final Fowl release, Giving Something Back; signed with Rocket Records/A&M in 1996 and released Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope, 1997.
Addresses: Record company —Rocket Records/A&M/PolyGram, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019; Fowl Records, P.O. Box 3901, Crofton, MD 21114. Home —Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, Jimi HaHa, P.O Box 3617, Annapolis, MD 21403. Fan club— Chicken Nation, P.O. Box 6827, Arlington, VA 22206; Manager —Richard Burgess, Burgess World Co., 3925 Rhode Harbor Rd., Mayo, MD 21037; E-mail —[email protected] Website —www.fowl.com/jimmies.
three well-received albums. Among their many performances, the band played at the HFS festival in 1996 and 1997. Soon after performing at the 1996 HFSfestival at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium, the group signed a two-album contract with Elton John’s Rocket Records. In 1997, Rocket Records released the band’s debut album, Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope.
Ironically, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack began as an acoustic guitar duo featuring HaHa and Jimmy McD. The original four member group got together in 1992 in Annapolis, Maryland, playing music that was anything but acoustic. The group, with HaHa on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Chaney on drums, Jimmy McD on guitar, and Che Colovita Lemon (pronounced lay-MOHN) on bass, has performed hundreds of shows throughout the East Coast area of the United States. Both HaHa and Chaney were formerly with the group Ten X Big. Lemon was in many other bands, including Fluid Union. Jimmy McD was a member of Ghost in the Graveyard. Guitarist Dave Dowling, also known as Double D. joined the band in January 1998.
One reviewer called Jimmie’s Chicken Shack the biggest thing to hit the Annapolis, Maryland music scene since Frank Zappa, and claimed that the band is bringing new life to the area as well as creating a stir nationwide. Their music combines hard rock, funk, punk, blues and jazz fusion interspersed with messages of social concerns. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack has enjoyed considerable popularity in the Mid-Atlantic area for several years. They attract rowdy crowds, and are a favorite among slam dancers. They have performed on a monthly basis at Baltimore, Maryland’s Eight by Ten Club and the Bayou in Washington, D.C.
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack takes its name from a blues restaurant in New York’s Harlem section where jazz legend Charlie Parker was said to have once been a dishwasher. On the subject of names, Jimi Haha’s real name is James Davies. Growing up in Bowie, Maryland, HaHa said hechanged the spelling of his first name after rock guitar hero Jimi Hendrix. He acquired his current last name of” HaHa” after laughing at an opponent during a pool game. The man was said to have later asked Davies’ friend,” Where’s your friend Jimmie HaHa?” Davies thought it was funny and the name stuck.
In 1994, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack started it’s own record label, Fowl Records. Between 1994–95 they released two live albums, Chicken Scratch and Spit Burger Lottery, which were later released on asingle CD as Two for One Special. That CD and a later release, Giving Something Back, sold well for the band. Jimi HaHa told an interviewer at Musician, “The main ingredient in doing it yourself is ass busting.” Besides using Fowl Records as a vehicle for their own promotion, the band has also signed other area bands to the label. Dozens of other promising bands from Baltimore/Washington area, including the Almighty Senators and God pocket have released albums on Fowl Records. JCS hopes to bring national attention and success to other bands from the area.
In 1996, they performed on the side stage at the HFSfestival, sponsored by area alternative radio station, WHFS. The annual festival is one of the largest radio sponsored music events in the country, and draws approximately 60, 000 fans every year. The forum allows popular and newer bands to showcase their talents. Since it’s inception in 1990, it has been held annually at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium, and has included such bands as No Doubt, Everclear, Presidents of the U.S.A., Foo Fighters, and Soul Coughing, among others. During the 1996 show, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack played on the second stage, and received positive reviews. The band performed at the 1997 HFSfestival, as well, this time on the main stage, and used the event to kick off their 1997 tour. Kelly Connelly of Music Monthly gave JCS’ performance rave reviews.
Richard Burgess, the band’s manager, “discovered” the group while in Annapolis, Maryland. He sparked a bidding war among various record companies. Shortly after the 1996 HFSfestival concert, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack signed with Rocket Records, a subsidiary of A&M Records. Their 1997 Rocket Record’s debut, Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope was recorded at OZ Studios in Baltimore. Produced by Steven Haigler, the group has remained true to its rock roots on Pushing Salmanilla Envelope, with the loud, hard driving, heavy metal sound of guitars, bass, and drums with a hint of reggae and funk. The album includes six old songs—“properly recorded this time” according to the band—and six new ones with lyrics by HaHa.
Their style on Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope has been compared to that of Red Hot Chile Peppers, Bad Brains, Living Colour, and Soundgarden. The lyrics of the album’s first single, “High,” contain some confusing and contradictory messages about drug use. Confusing because the band has played concerts that support the legalization of marijuana while the lyrics from “High” seem to be anti-drugs. Some of the other songs—“Dropping Anchor,” “Spiderweb,” and “Hole”—have themes about persistence and determination. The song “Blood” mixes rhythmic rock sound with lyrics that clearly speak of AIDS. “Will you share your blood with me? I’ll share mine with you … Let’s risk it. Here we go. It’s in my blood.”
An online review of Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope gave the new release thumbs up overall. Although reviewer Ben Reed admitted Jimmie’s Chicken Shack is not exactly breaking any musical ground, he said the group “plays some catchy tunes,” and he appreciates the sense of humor the band exhibits through its lyrics. Reed described Jimmie’s Chicken Shack as a good band that “serves up some good, heavy fun nuggets.”
At least one of the band members has a reputation for accidentally breaking other musicians’ equipment on stage. According to HaHa, Lemon never had his own equipment, so he’d borrow it from other bands. Then Lemon would get so into playing that he would forget he was trying to stand up at the same time. He would fall onto the equipment, break it, and continue to play. That same focused energy has transmitted into some wild behavior by the audience at times, including fans diving into the slam-dancers’ “mosh” pits.
Although some might think Jimmie’s Chicken Shack spends a lot of time practicing to perfect their explosive sound, Jimi HaHa admitted the band is pretty lazy when it comes to practicing: “A lot of times we even work things out live … Sometimes it’s messy but it keeps things exciting.: The band performs throughout the entire East Coast, and plans to tour nationally. As McD said in an online article, “The only place Jimmie’s Chicken Shack has to go is up!”
Chicken Scratch, Fowl Records, 1994.
Spit Burger Lottery, Fowl Records, 1995
Two for One Special, Fowl Records.
Giving Something Back, Fowl Records.
Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope, (includes “High,” “Dropping Anchor,” and “Spiderweb”), Rocket Records, 1997.
Billboard International Buyers Guide, BPI Communications, 1997.
City Paper (Baltimore), April 23, 1997
Guitar World, August 1997.
HITS, June 23, 1997, p. 58.
Intelligencer Journal, March 21, 1997.
Mean Street, August 1997.
Music Connection, July 7, 1997.
Musician, February 1998, p. 14.
MusicMonthly, June 1997; July 1997, p. 26.
Pro Sound News, July 1997.
Thrasher, August 1997.
Additional information was provided by Laura Morgan of A&M Record’s press department, and Richard Burgess of Burgess World Co.
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