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A 'rocking good time'

Two well-regarded blues acts from the Twin Cities will ring out their music from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday in Grand Forks Town Square as part of another free performance in the Blues on the Red series.

Eddie Rickert
Eddie Rickert will play Saturday afternoon and evening at Blues on the Red in Town Square, downtown Grand Forks.

Two well-regarded blues acts from the Twin Cities will ring out their music from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday in Grand Forks Town Square as part of another free performance in the Blues on the Red series.

Jimi "Prime Time" Smith and his band with guest artist Barbara LaShoure of Minneapolis will headline the event. He promises a "butt-rocking good time." Eddie Rickert and Blue Voodoo of Bloomington, Minn., will open.

Smith grew up in Chicago. His mother, Johnnie Mae Dunson, was a drummer and songwriter with Jimmy Reed and a major force in shaping Chicago blues in the 1950s, a news release said. Smith made his first recording when he was 8 -- under the tutelage of the great Reed -- and began playing guitar when he was 12. Smith moved to Minneapolis when he was 19.

After playing with Big Walter Smith (no relation), Jimi Smith played with Lynwood Slim, the R-Section, True Blue, The Rhythm Doctors and Famous Dave's All-Stars as well as backup to many well-known blues musicians such as Etta James, Otis Rush and Albert King. His band, The Prime Time Players, recorded its debut album "Give Me Wings" in 1998.

Blue Voodoo was formed by Eddie Rickert, Matt Scott and Johnny Rickert in 2003, a news release said, and the band has been playing the Twin Cities metro area ever since. Eddie's been playing guitar since he was 10; his father, John Rickert, was leader of The Studio Dogs. Blue Voodoo's main influences include Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, classic rock and more.

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The Herald caught up with Jimi "Prime Time" Smith earlier this week for a telephone interview, which has been edited for length.

Q. Blues musicians have the coolest nicknames. How did you get to be known as "Prime Time"?

A. Actually, because of my attire, the way I dress. I was playing in Blues Alley in Minneapolis and when I came in one night, the bartender there said: "Man, you look like prime time."

Q. What's the first instrument you learned to play and who taught you to play it?

A. The first instrument was a guitar and it was the late Jimmy Reed, the Big Boss Man. Later, it was his sidekick, Eddie Taylor, and then Hubert Sumlin. Taylor was Jimmy Reed's second guitar player, and he taught Jimmy Reed to play a certain kind of guitar. I met him through my Mom and Jimmy Reed. Same thing with Hubert, I met him through my mom because Hubert was Howlin' Wolf's guitar player.

Q. Tell me about your music. Do you write your own songs or do you have favorite songwriters whose music you like to perform?

A. The stuff that's on my disc, I wrote about 80 percent of it. (He also plays music written by his mother and bass player John Wright.) I do perform other people's music, but most of the stuff I perform is my own.

Q. Tell me about Barbara LeShoure and your band. How long have you been together?

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A. Barbara's been singing with me off and on for about seven years. She's from Chicago originally and has been around for many years, doing theater and shows in Chicago and all over. We kind of hooked up here in Minneapolis and started doing some things.

Q. Blues music often is about people at their lowest. Their man just left them. Their woman's been untrue. So what makes the blues such an enduring form of music?

A. Because mostly it's about real-life situations. That's where I develop my songs from --things that happened in my life. I was born and raised into it. My mom was a musician, and everyone around me was musicians. I love it. It's a part of me.

Q. Do you have a favorite blues song or a signature song?

A. Of the ones I wrote and arranged, it's "A Whole Lot of Power" on the "Back on Track" disc. My favorite stuff to perform is by Albert King. I had a chance to play with him, and he was a phenomenal guy. He could play three notes and just make your cry.

Q. What can Grand Forks expect from your show?

A. They can expect high-energy blues, a great butt-rocking good time. We're gonna make you move, make you have a good time. There are happier songs in the blues that make you feel good. Whenever I get down, I grab my guitar and have a good time, and it always makes me feel better.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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