Yesterday I was having breakfast at Cafe Savanna in Rogersville, AL, with my dear friends Susan and Paul Parker. Susan is a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and she and her husband Paul live just down the river from me--not too far from music legend Spooner Oldham. While at the cafe, I was introduced to yet another legendary figure of the Shoals, drummer Jimmy "Bebop" Evans.
My previous knowledge of Bebop had come from a hilariously funny article that another iconic figure in the music of the Shoals, my friend Dick Cooper, had written for Swampland. The piece is entitled "Delbert Needed a Drummer," and I urge you to read it now as it is the best introduction to BeBop that I can imagine. (photo of BeBop Evans)
Now BeBop Evans has been playing music since he could hold a pair of drumsticks, and when he was at Sheffield High School, he played in a band with one of the original founders of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios,Jimmy Johnson. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (or MSRS) members were later referred to as simply "The Swampers." BeBop worked for years as a member of MSRS and recorded with such luminaries as Percy Sledge, Ruth Brown, Dobie Gray, George Jones, Mac Davis, Andy Williams, Paul Anka, and a lot of others, including Delbert McClinton himself. He is a member of the group FCC (the Funky Communications Commission) and also is the percussionist for the group Jukebox Jim which was recently named the Best Cover Band in the Shoals. BeBop is truly a legend in his own time. (photo at Sheffield High Stunt nigh courtesy of Jimmy Johnson Gallery--t Jimmy Croney, Jimmy Johnson, and BeBop Evans)
The following is from the Jukebox Jim Facebook and MySpace page:
"Jukebox Jim is named after Shoals area legendary jukebox operator, Jim Henson, Jukebox Jim consists of Jeff Henson-lead vocals/rhythm guitar; Muscle Shoals Sound and FCC band member, Jimmy “BeBop” Evans-drums/percussion; Jordan Denton vocals/lead guitar; original Jackson Highway band member, Tommy Patterson-vocals/keyboard; and George Henley-bass. Jeff’s musical talent was first heard at taverns in Tuscaloosa as a student at the University of Alabama singing live music and playing the acoustic guitar. As Muscle Shoals Sound members, both Be-Bop and Tommy bring a classic vibe to the band that reflects the rich sound of Muscle Shoals music. They have played sessions and performed with many stars all over the country. From learning how to play guitar at 13 to playing with and other big name local artists, Jordan Denton's passion is music. Inspired by local music, the history of Muscle Shoals and his grandfather Bobby Denton, who was the first to have a hit record out of Northwest Alabama, he has not stopped since. George has brought great talent to the band with his relentless energy to set the stage on fire at each performance."
When I posted on Facebook that I had met BeBop Evans, Thomas Beane, executive director of the Alabama Film Development Project, responded with the following comment. "BeBop is a hoot! I have had the pleasure of working with him on a couple of projects including a television pilot called Boomers. He really is a great guy. "
Everyone I talked to seems to know BeBop and everyone seems to love him. I look forward to interviewing him for Swampland.
----Penne J. Laubenthal