Biography

“Jimmy Leslie drops a funk and pop mix that’s all his own.”—Pacific Sun

Jimmy Leslie is somewhat of a musical renaissance man on the San Francisco Bay Area scene. He’s a freak “freehand” guitarist with a funky roots rock style, a soaring soulful singer, and a bona fide multi-faceted writer. Leslie’s groovy songs flow like water, as do the features he pens each month for Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines. Leslie coordinates GP & BP Presents event promotions for the venerable musician magazines as well. Leslie also authored a popular musical marine epic—Guitarfish Adventures Vol. 1:Blue Is the New Green (with forward by Bootsy Collins)—and co-founded the Guitarfish Musical Festival. Leslie’s musical credits include Honey Island Swamp Band, Shana Morrison (Van’s Girl), LunaGroove, A Spirit Hustler, Visitor Jim, Allmond Brothers Clan, Guitarmageddon, and Stung. He’s played the O2 Arena, the High Sierra Music Festival, Sea of Dreams, Xingolati, and Burning Man. He’s interviewed everyone from Allman Brothers Band to P-Funk, and jammed with the likes of Luther Dickinson, Sonny Landreth, and Papa Mali. You never know who may drop in on a Jimmy Leslie & The Flow show, or where he may pop up for a guest spot. The Flow is bassist Mike Sugar (Jambay), Grammy-nominated drummer Jeremy Hoenig, and guitarist/singer Pamela Parker (Katdelic).

A Guitar Player’s Guitar Player

Leslie has a signature “freehand” guitar style that incorporates flamenco-like flourishes, slapping & plucking, and inventive faux-slide leads. His tenor voice is equally unique, surprisingly versatile, and central to his distinct roots rock sound.

“Vocals are paramount to most of my material,” says Leslie, “but the music is entirely guitar-based with an emphasis on GROOVE.”

Dance Until Forever

Dance Until Forever is the long-awaited follow up to Leslie’s 2007 solo debut, Surfin’ the Swamp. [Leslie was sidelined with a debilitating repetitive stress injury for much of the time in-between.] Like its predecessor, it was recorded in New Orleans with a choice local rhythm section.

“I chose to record with Garland Paul and Sam Price because we discovered a natural chemistry post-Katrina during the formative period of the Honey Island Swamp Band, and developed it as a trio gigging around the Bay Area until Garland and Sam eventually rejoined the rest of Honey Island in New Orleans,” Leslie explains.

The single “VooDoo Doll” featuring Eric McFadden (P-Funk, Stockholm Syndrome) was actually recorded later in San Francisco. Mixed by GP honcho Michael Molenda, it was added last, and appears first on the digital version of the album.

“Save Us!” features emotive vocals and deep lyrics that consider the myriad natural and man-made disasters that plague our planet. The closing title track deals with similar subject material in acoustic fashion and with a more optimistic perspective.

There’s tons of fun on the R&B tinged “Smile On,” the sexy strut of “Soulful & Strange,” and the Mardi Gras rock & roll hybrid, “Shake!” Keyboards courtesy of Garaj Mahal’s Eric Levy, and horns courtesy of Ryan Scott (Monophonics, Vinyl) and Alan Williams (Katdelic) flesh out the grooviest guitar release you’re likely to hear for years.

Time Dance

2014/15

Leslie returns his focus on his solo band, The Flow, with the new lineup debuting at the Great American Music Hall opening for the Royal Southern Brotherhood. They go on to play shows with Tab Benoit, Zigaboo Modeliste, Sonny Landreth, Eric McFadden, and many more notable artists.

2013

This was the year of A Spirit Hustler. A sit-in by artist-at-large Ashley Kepler at the Guitarfish Music Festival in 2012 inspired Jimmy Leslie to merge dreams with the sensational singer. Upright bass extraordinaire James Whiton (Eric McFadden Trio) and drummer Jeremy Hoenig (Smokedaddies) joined the fold as well. A Spirit Hustler brought its heavy Prohibition swing to the Brick and Mortar Music Hall, the Crystal Bay Casino, and the Guitarfish Music Festival where it shared bills with Kermit Ruffins, Forrest Day, and Lyrics Born. The band went on hiatus in 2014 giving time for Kepler to have a baby. You can still listen to music on SoundCloud, watch video on YouTube, connect on Facebook.

2012

Jimmy records “VooDoo Doll” featuring guitar monstrosity Eric McFAdden, and it is added to Dance Until Forever for Guitar Player Records’ digital release coming in late July. Jimmy Leslie & The Flow open a run of shows for Tab Benoit over Memorial Day Weekend in glorious celebration of the album’s physical CD release.

2011

Jimmy records the bulk of Dance Until Forever with Garland Paul and Sam Price, who he’d first played with in the Honey Island Swamp Band.

Jimmy’s eco-musical kids epic, Guitarfish Adventures Volume 1.0: Blue Is the New Green is published as an eBook in late September, coinciding with the inagural Guitarfish Festival near Lake Tahoe.

Guitarfish Adventures While on tour with Shana Morrison a few years back, Jimmy wrote a musicial, eco-aware kids story called the Guitarfish Adventures that tells the tale of a band of fishes trying to make it on tour without getting caught by ravenous humans. It inspires the Guitarfish Festival–which debuts September 23-25 at Cisco Groove campground on the Yuma River just off I-80 about 30 mins west of Truckee. Hundreds of music heads gather for three magic days and nights of funky tunes, majestic camping in an awe-inspiring natural setting, blue eco-awareness and education, and healthy lifestyle encouragement with yoga, Pilates, and lucious food!

2010

Jimmy’s guitar playing is re-ignited after a Guitar Player Presents tribute to Duane Allman leads to the all-star Allman Brothers tribute, the Allmond Brothers Clan.

Jimmy hones material for what becomes Dance Until Forever.

2009

A year of suffering and healing from repetitive strain injury

2004 – 2008

Surfin’ the Swamp

To manifest a vision of West Coast melodies and high vibes over down-home Southern grooves, Jimmy gathers Galactic’s drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio to provide the pocket for Surfin’ the Swamp. The lead track, “Sweetater Sun” exemplifies Surfin’ the Swamp. The CD is on iTunes, at shows, and on this site. Jimmy’s live act emerges from a group of Katrina refugees called the Honey Island Swamp Band, which contains members of Eric Lindell’s band – Chris Mule and A-Ron Wilkenson –  and drummer Garland Paul and bassist Sam Price. When Chris and A-Ron return to NOLA, Jimmy plays with Garland and Sam backing him for a year until they too return home. Jimmy forms a new group with SF musicians he calls “The Flow” after the band in his story, Guitarfish Adventures Vol 1: Blue is the New Green.

Leslie hosts Guitar Player Presents once a month around the SF Bay. Examples include Buddy Guy and Robert Cray at the Mtn. Winery, Yngwie Malmsteen at the Independent, John Scofield at Yoshi’s, and Oz Noy at the Boom Boom Room.

2003–2005

In the spring of 2003, Jimmy sits in with electronic musician Alex Theory at a peace party. The two strike up a new project and add keyboardist Jeffrey Gilliam to form LunaGroove. The electro-live act instantly draws the attention of the Burning Man crowd and hits the festival/party circuit. LunaGroove releases a self-titled live CD [Cyberset] at legendary Burner party krewe Anon Salon’s Sea of Dreams New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

2000–2003

Visitor Jim is born out of the partnership with Jim Greer and former Crumb bassist Jim Bowser. The band releases a praised CD, gains national radio play at the Triple A format, tours the West Coast, and has a single mixed by Bill Bottrell (Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow). However, the project gets put on hiatus due to Greer’s new gig ghostwriting for Galactic.

Leslie takes editorship of Gig magazine for a year before moving on to write for Guitar Player and Bass Player.

1998–2000

Jimmy transplants from Ohio to California when he lands a gig with DreamWorks artist Ira Marlowe, then joins a national touring outfit led by Fortune recording artist Jim Greer.