I am currently producing an album of songs by the late Alaskan composer Jim Bell (1943-2007), thanks to an Individual Artist Award from The Rasmuson Foundation.
For 40 years, Composer/Lyricist/Pianist James C. Bell entertained at the Palace Saloon in Fairbanks, Alaska. A consummate entertainer, "Jimmy Bluebell" captivated crowds with his catchy lyrics, beautiful melodies, and impeccable command of all things “show biz.” His timeless, uniquely Alaskan tunes captured the hearts of the adventurous souls who flocked to the Last Frontier in the 60s and 70s. In these rowdy Pipeline-era days, the Palace was the place to be. Can-can cuties kicked; mustachioed bartenders slung stiff drinks; and Jim’s songs pulsed with the lifeblood of the boisterous community.
Jim’s music is dear to many Alaskans, but especially to me since my parents fell in love performing his songs at the Palace. I’m honored that Marlene Bell, Jim’s widow, has bequeathed the copyright to Jim’s music to me in her will. As the eventual heir to Jim's lifetime body of work, I feel a responsibility to celebrate the music that brought my parents and so many others together in Alaska's Golden Heart City.
The Jim Bell Project is a synthesis of several of my artistic passions: vocals, piano, songwriting, and theatre/performance. There is something about Jim’s music that speaks to me on a cellular level. Since I quite literally heard his songs in utero, they stayed with me. I consider the songs Jim created a time capsule of Fairbanks life from Gold Rush days through the 80s.
Watching Jim from a young age, I learned about the palpable energy exchange between stage and audience. I learned how to rehearse a single phrase until it was just right. I learned that pace and humor can separate an amateur from a professional. Above all, I learned that the community you create in the room is what keeps people coming back to hear more.
Please let Jim's music speak for itself at: https://soundcloud.com/jimmy-bluebell
Funded by Alaska (April 2017)