Interview with Jimmy Roy


w/ R. Condo in Munich, Germany

Any fans of the Vancouver Rockabilly/Roots scene will recognize the name Jimmy Roy. He’s been THE hottest player in town for as long as I remember. His talent has taken him around the world with acts like Ray Condo, Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys as well as his own bands the 5 Star Hillbillies, the Knotty Pines, and currently the Do Rites. Jimmy also hosts the Famous Railway Rockabilly Jam one week per month. He is a master of the Steel Guitar and has played on stage of the Grand Old Opry.

How old were you when you started playing guitar? 13

Who was you’re first major influence while learning? Kieth Richards

Who has been some of your biggest influences over the years? for guitar ; Roy Nichols, Grady Martin, Eddie Bush, Chet Atkins, James Burton, early Roy Buchanon ( 50’s and early 60’s) ,Cliff Gallop, Johnny Meeks Chris Spedding, Jack Dekiezer and a long list of others. Steel Guitar; Noel Boggs, Vance Terry, Jerry Byrd, Kayton Roberts, Bud Issacs, Ralph Mooney, Jimmy Day , Buddy Emmons and all the others from that era.

What methods did you use to learn (Mel Bay, H. Leonard)? Listening to records mostly . PS recommend Mel Bay big time over H. Leonard

Did you study theory would you recommend learning theory(as opposed to TAB)? Not much until recently unfortunately. Definitely recommend learning as much music theory as you can get your head around at every step of your musical development. Tab is excellent for obvious reasons ( amongst others being able to play songs right away for a beginner or otherwise , learning to read may take awhile before you are able to learn your favorite stuff )but Tab is very limited, fortunately there isn’t too much involved in learning it .

What part of learning guitar was most difficult? (bar chords, arpeggios, bending) ans. Chord structure before playing in bands where someone else might know what was going on.

Any advice for someone just starting out? Give up everything else Chet Atkins recommended 4 hrs practice per day.

How long did you practice when you were starting to learn (avg)? 4 hrs per week

What was your most memorable session/show? (good or bad) playing the Grand Ole Opry ( good)

How long did you take lessons for(in years), before you were good enough to play
in a gigging band? I took only one lesson ( in grade 9) before playing in my 1st band and learned a finger picking version of “Blowing in the Wind” wish I could still remember it.

10. Is technical ability the most important attribute, for a bandmember? (is being a
good player all it takes, what about taste, creativity,
communication, listening, organization?) Yea being able to get along with your bandmates, not whining too much and all the above. Technical ability is very important , but so is being individualistic, technical skills are tools to build something you can call your own.

11. Any tricks that you’ve learned over the years to playing, or understanding theory,
easier? Barney Kessel recommended practicing in half hour intervals as you should be able to stay focused that long, otherwise one tends to just play the stuff you already know while your mind might be elsewhere ( bad habit) Learning reading music and understanding theory takes hard work . I would say the best trick to learning theory is to decide you enjoy doing it , just like you can train yourself to like certain foods if you think they might improve your health.

12.What does your live set-up consist of? (gtrs,FXs, amp(s) Telecaster knock off, Fender Deluxe Reverb , various steel guitars, Fender , Sho Bud, and home made Bigsby

What new technology have you found useful? (eg. Multi-FX, robot self tuning guitars) Boss tuner pedal, echo pedal ( danelectric echoplex simulator, doesn’t sound anything like an Echoplex but I can’t find anyone to fix my old Echoplex.

14. Have you designed or modified any of your own equipment? Just my steel guitars the Sho bud and the Bigsby

15. Have you seen any new up and coming players, worth mentioning? just Gord Smithers

16. What are your plans for the near future? working on the sight reading I didn’t learn back when I should have.

Jimmy’s teaching at Bonerattle Music, Monday and Tuesdays. You can schedule a lesson at 604 251 BONE (2663) The amazing Steve Nikleva also teaches there
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