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Jim Heald

Jim Heald (photo)

Jim Heald was born in the 1950's in Northern New Jersey. During his high school years he spent plenty of time listening to the Beatles, Santana, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Byrds, The Band, and more. Even Motown. Good buddy Steve had a car (bright red rocketship really) that they called the Pimpmobile. Steve, though Jewish, thought he was black and listened to the Temptations, Four Tops and others on 8-track in the Pimpmobile as they drove to school or cruised for girls on Saturday nights. The sound of Jim’s music had its origins in the soundtrack of those turbulent, wonderful times, and continues to evolve.

Jim went to college in Waterville, Maine, studying English Lit and East Asian Culture, and spent a year studying at Oxford and another year in graduate school in Philadelphia . After dropping out of grad school, he moved to Chicago . Broke and without a clue about what to do with his liberal arts degree, it seemed like a good place to figure things out. He found that he liked the Windy City, especially the summer, with ball games at Wrigley Field, the Lakefront, and the music scene.

His mother gave him a guitar for Christmas in 1976 (Thanks Mom!) and, shortly after, he started to hang around the Old Town School of Folk Music. There were concerts at the Old Town School and he became acquainted firsthand with the music of performers like John Prine, Steve Goodman, Michael Smith, Tom Paxton, Bob Gibson, Jim Post and many others (Odetta, Josh White Jr., Pierre Bensusan, Doc Watson, Roger McGuinn). He also became aware of a new generation of local songwriters like Thom Bishop (aka Junior Burke), Tom Dundee, Chris Farrell and Marty Piefer. He would frequent the folk clubs and coffeehouses to hear these new artists. He particularly liked to go to a club like Somebody Else's Troubles and sit near the front to watch performers play guitar, picking up ideas for his own playing and sometimes learning a few of their songs. He started hanging out with his new friends, discussing the finer points of rock and roll and playing the open stages after calming the nerves with a couple of beers. Bruce Cockburn and Loudon Wainwright III are among the many influences that you may detect in Jim’s music.

He started playing gigs for money in the early 80's. Around the same time, he met Laura and they fell in love and got married. She was the inspiration for many of the love songs in his repertoire. After living in Chicago for 11 years, they packed up the car and the cats and moved to Austin in search of warmer weather and the legendary music scene.

In Austin, he became acquainted with a whole new set of musicians like Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Jimmie LaFave, James McMurtry, Stephen Bruton, Rich Brotherton, David Rodriguez and many others. He co-hosted the open stage at the legendary acoustic venue, Chicago House, with Jimmy LaFave and Betty Elders, played at SXSW several times in the early years, was a finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition in 1990 and 1993 and performed live a number of times on the KUT Folkways radio show. Over the years he has performed either solo or with a rotating cast of fantastic musicians and singers, many of whom pop up on his releases.

Jim moved on to the DC area in 1996 and continues to perform regularly at coffeehouses, festivals, house concerts and other events.

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