Strong bodies helped lift this mighty man of metal from a wheelchair on to center-stage at Fulton 55. In an earlier life, he would’ve provided incontrovertible evidence that he was fashioned from stronger stuff and finished for a higher purpose, setting an unassuming onlooker back on their ear in the most heartening of ways. Under normal circumstances, any other unruly crowd would be totally impatient, not having time to wait while throwing back their fourth or fifth drink. But, not this night. Not this man.
This crowd knew. Standing in the swirl of booze and bodies, gave a sense of impending awestruck anticipation. History was in the making. Every eye locked in. Pulses pounding, wondering when it would happen. 82 DeLuxe kicked it and the tranquil rocking man of steely expression got the joint jump like never before. Dueling basses might normally leave ears muddied and starving for airspace. But this quiet great-grandfather set a groove with badass rockabilly bassist, Johnny Nino that left listeners weak in the knees. It was a thing of beauty to behold. I posted later that I wanted to be like him when I grew up.
Jimmy was a CA Country Music hero I’d only met once before at a previous Keeney Nation event. Jimmy was the kind of special breed that made the deepest of impacts in the quietest of manners. Laser focus. Tranquil disposition. Once it was time for that instrument, all bets were off. It was game on. He had us where he wanted us.
He lived to love his family. But, he also lived to play. He fought until literally his last breath to make THIS performance. He knew he didn’t have time left. He worked himself into enough shape … for one song. He took the bass and performed … one SET of songs. He would not be moved until it was HIS time to go. Now, it seems prophetic.
Jimmy Shirley … gone.