Featured Musician – Jimmy Schwarz


Jimmy Schwarz
Harmonica, Vocals
Blues Disciples

Tell us a little about your history as a blues artist. Bands you’ve played with, how long etc.

I started The Blues Disciples over 30 years ago. In the late 80’s, I lived near Brady Street and started spending a lot of time at the Up & Under Pub.  Having been trained as a vocalist in college, I began to sit in at open jams and eventually started the band.

During those early years, I also played with “Jimmy and The Flamethrowers” which was the same core band with a different guitar player.  Over the years I have played a lot of harmonica for Rev Raven and a lot of other bands too numerous to remember.

What do you do for fun when you are not playing?
I watch soccer, drink coffee, and smoke reefer.

How did the Blues Disciples get started?
We were very much inspired by the Blues scene in Milwaukee at the time, and wanted to start a band to be a part of it.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
Kermit Stokes, Billy Flynn, Jim Liban, Lee McBee, The Belairs, William Clark, so many more!!

Tell us about your first paid gig.
I got us a gig at a bar in Port Washington, half the band had no gig experience, but it went well, and it became a semi-regular gig for us in the early years of the band.

If you could collaborate with another musician who would it be?
Right now I am collaborating with my favorite 4 musicians in the world, the other 4 Blues Disciples.  We have started work on a new release with everyone in the band writing new original songs.  Over 30 years I’ve been privileged to have so many great musicians come through the band, and this current group is a dynamic collection of a 5 piece group that plays with 1 musical mind.  Instead of myself writing and arranging all the songs, the next release will be a true collaboration of all members of the band, and I think it will be our best effort yet!

Also, I’d enjoy collaborating with Mike Morgan down in Texas, and of course a Robert Cray Collab would be a dream come true!

Describe Blues Disciples fans in 3 words.
The Best!   You can have 1 word back 🙂

What is your opinion about covers?
To me, the term “cover” means different things in different contexts and genres.  If we’re talking about popular music, and “cover bands” that fill church festivals, cruise ships, and weddings with the goal of sounding “just like the record”, I’m not a fan, but I definitely understand fellow musicians playing those gigs, cause that’s where the money is at for a musician that’s not touring a bigger show.

If we’re talking about Blues or Jazz, I would use the word “standards” as opposed to “covers.” When we cover a BB King song, we’re not trying to copy BB King, we’re trying to play a standard in our own style and interpretation, and hearing my musical peers interpret standards in their own way is musical growth.

What advice would you give to young musicians?
Don’t take any advice from me 🙂

but ok…

After you learn the technical fundamentals of your instrument, the next step is to find your own unique style, you have one, but it may take some time and experimenting with different things to weed out what's you from your influences.  Influences are great to have, but don’t try to be them, be you.

How much time do you spend listening to music each day or week?  Playing music?
I play about an average of 2 gigs a week, so that’s usually at least 6 hours of playing music a week, when I do recording for other artists that’ll usually be 10 hours per song by the time I’ve finished.  I do listen to music frequently, but also have frequent periods of no listening and sometimes long silent rides to and from gigs.

What is your least favorite type of music?

Karaoke –  Yeah, or nah?
See #20 🙂

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