Born in 1959 in Coronado, California, bassist Jimmy Valdez didn’t grow up wanting to play the bass. As a teenager he was into hot rod cars and went on to become an ASE certified mechanic. By happenstance he picked up an acoustic guitar one day and thought it might be cool to learn to play, but after toying around with it for a while he decided that he’d rather play the drums. As Valdez humorously puts it, he only ended up with a bass guitar out of “sheer stupidity” when at the music store to purchase his much anticipated new drum set, he quickly realized it wouldn’t fit into his car --so he bought a bass instead. He taught himself the basics and he and his brother teamed up to play in a rock cover band called On Tap. Though his brother went on to be one of the original members of the band Ill Repute, nothing really gelled for Valdez in SoCal and he eventually decided to relocate to Indiana in 1991, as he felt the Midwest would be a better upbringing for his daughter.
In Indianapolis, Jimmy V (as he’s known) met up with a few musicians and started playing locally with blues band The Catfish, and later, Governor Davis and The Blues Ambassadors, with whom he ended up playing with for over ten years. He has played with many other notable musicians, as well, including, Yank Rachell, Duke Tomatoe, Pinetop Perkins, and Sweet FA.
Valdez states that he “loves” the Blues and “rockin’ Big Hair Bands” and cites his influences as John Entwhistle, Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Buddy Guy; however, the single greatest influence has been John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. Valdez deeply appreciates the magic created by Jones and Bonham and observes that “they created a huge rhythm section sound without overplaying”. Valdez understands “the power of silence”, as he puts it, favoring bass lines and riffs that incorporate an element of musical restraint and discipline that serve to create dimension and anticipation within the framework of a song. As far as gear, Jimmy V plays an American-made Washburn 5-string bass, with active electronics and a “fast” neck. His amp is an older Hartke 3500 Mosfet expressing that it has a “warm, gritty tone—like the band”.
Sheer intensity is what grabs Valdez’ attention musically, and he says that is exactly what caught his eye when he first heard Blues guitarist Kelly Richey play. He first saw the Kelly Richey Band perform at the Slippery Noodle in 1995, and was immediately taken with her searing, Stevie Ray Vaughan-ish style of guitar playing. He says that he really wanted to get her attention that night and talk to her, but it was not to be. He saw her again that same year in Memphis on her Eyes Of A Woman tour, and this time was able to meet her after the show. He remembers telling her, “you need me to play in your band”, and gave her his business card---however, Richey never called. As the story goes, Valdez knew several of the bassists that had worked with her and watched, one by one as they fell to the wayside. Patience won and as fate would have it, ten years from their initial meeting in Memphis, Richey called one day and asked him if he wanted to play in her band. That was the year 2005, and Valdez toured with the Kelly Richey Band until 2012, providing a solid, supporting musical element to Richey’s intense guitar playing.
Written by Sonya Ziegler
Hey ?? Jimmy V here.
Allow me to add a P.S. to the above.
As you may have read in my blog I currently am not a touring musician because my wife, Deanna, our dog Pooh, and I are over the road truck drivers. As of this writing we have a dedicated route from Indianapolis to San Bernadino CA every week. We get there and either stick around Cali and go visit family in the 805 or we find freight to take us back home. Easily the best “job” either of us have ever experienced.
When I am back in Indy I try to spend some time with my new musical partner Mark Taylor creating music for our band project TIMESLIP. I’ll be connecting this site to that one soon.
Ive abandoned all other social media (I.e. Facebook and Twitter, etc) and have decided to concentrate my efforts here so I hope you’ll return often to see what Im up to.