Jimmie Bones stays plenty busy as the keyboardist in Kid Rock‘s Twisted Brown Trucker Band. But after more than 43 years of recording and performing, he’s finally stepping out on his own.
Bones, who was also part of Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise, has released his first solo album, Snakebit and Wandering, via the Funky D Records label in Detroit. “I’ve always been writing and recording and doing stuff like that; I just never really took that next step to release it,” Bones tells Billboard. “So this is nothing new for me. But the actual releasing of it and putting it out there for the public to buy, that’s something new — and it’s been a long time coming.”
Over the years, Bones (nee Trombly) has co-written songs for Kid Rock (“Cowboy,” “Rock and Roller,” “Black Bob” and more) and Uncle Kracker (“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” “Better Days,” “You Can’t Take Me”). He also wrote songs for A Bothered Mind, the 2004 album by the late Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside that was produced by Funky D chief Martin “Tino” Gross. He’s considered Funky D’s “house keyboard player,” contributing to albums by John Sinclair, the Howling Diablos, Horse Cave Trio and others. “I just had a stockpile of songs that I felt strong about,” says Bones, whose album includes songs he initially demoed for Rock and Kracker. “Tino and I had been working on some things for a few years, and he just said, ‘Dude, you’ve got to put out your own record …’ That was a good five, six years ago, then we got real aggressive with it in the last three years.”
Snakebit and Wandering features a lineup of all-star players, including the MC5‘s Wayne Kramer, Bob Dylan‘s bassist Tony Garnier, Was (Not Was) and former Twisted Brown Trucker saxophonist David McMurray and members of the Detroit Wheels, the Rockets, the Detroit Cobras, the Howling Diablos and more. The album is an amalgam of blues, R&B and rock, and Bones feels it displays lessons he’s gleaned from the past 20-plus years of working on a national and international level.
“What I’ve really learned from [Blackwater Surprise and Kid Rock] is simplicity,” Bones notes. “I was probably guilty early on of overplaying; when you’re playing in blues bands in clubs, it’s almost like a chops exercise. Then you start recording and playing on records, and you really have to learn simplicity. These are songs — and all the old, great stuff that was recorded in Detroit and Motown and Muscle Shoals and Memphis — even Chess Records, there’s this beautiful simplicity to all of it that really grabs the ear. That’s what I’ve really come to embrace.”
Being part of the Kid Rock orbit has also given Bones plenty of memories, from playing at Woodstock ’99 to touring with personal heroes such as Aerosmith and Peter Wolf and opening for the Rolling Stones. “I pinch myself on a daily basis,” Bones says — and never more than when Jimmy Page approached him after a Kid Rock show in London. “We were sitting in the dressing room and a guy walks in and says, ‘Hey, there’s a couple of blokes that want to see you guys,’ and in walks Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham,” Bones recalls. “[Page] walked right up to me and said, ‘I love all that rolling piano you were doing. You remind me of Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins.’ I was just, like, speechless; ‘OK, can you say that again and can I record you saying that?'”
After a performance in suburban Detroit to launch Snakebit and Wandering and to premiere a video for the title track, Bones will be back on the road with Kid Rock. As for his boss’ potential run for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan, the keyboardist says he’s ready to serve as “Secretary of Useless Information” — but cautions against not taking it seriously. “Y’know what? That f—er could win, that’s what I think,” Bones says. “He could very well pull this off. A lot of people thought Trump couldn’t win and was just a joke, and lo and behold here we are. In Michigan…[Rock] could very well win.”