As a member of the Allman Brothers and Aquarium Rescue Unit, guitarist Jimmy Herring buried two former band leaders this May (Gregg Allman and Col. Bruce Hampton, respectively).
While off the road with another – Widespread Panic – he put together a new band: Jimmy Herring and The Invisible Whip, which pays homage to Hampton and features Kevin Scott, Jeff Sipe, Matt Slocum, and Jason Crosby. The band plays one of its first shows ever at Neighborhood Theatre Monday, before hitting the road with guitarist John McLaughlin this fall.
Herring spoke to the Observer recently about discovering music while growing up in Fayetteville and how Hampton informed the new band.
Q. What made this the right time for a new band?
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A. These guys I’ve been playing with, we’ve been talking about doing something for a while. Now we have two keyboard players. This is something I’ve wanted to do. When you listen to a classic record back in the day, you’ll hear organ and piano on the same track. You can’t do that live. On records, they’d overdub one or the other, but if you want to do it live you need two people.
Q. How did playing with Bruce influence you?
A. It changed our musical direction completely. At that time, we were playing fusion-oriented music and all originals. At that time in Atlanta, it was hard to get a gig playing original music and if you did you’d have to do four sets. Hampton was a revelation. Instantly on meeting him, every one of us, our direction changed. There’s so many great musicians I’ve been so blessed to play with, but there’s a special chemistry for people that have played together with Bruce. If you share playing with Bruce, you have a bond. It’s funny, each and every one of us in this band played with Bruce at one time or another. All of us were very close to him.
Q. Do you have much new music?
A. I wish I could say I had. That’s another one of the hard things about doing this. This band is a small thing and everybody works in other situations, so trying to find enough time to rehearse is not that easy and everybody’s time is money and money is food on the table. We don’t have all new music, but we have some. There’s probably four or five unrecorded tunes that will show up on the next album we do that we’re going to play live.
Q. What was essential for your musical upbringing?
A. My older brothers. One was four years older and one was seven years older. They were into great stuff. I got to hear it before I was 10. I got all their old posters, too. When I started showing an interest in playing music, I would get to where I could pick out certain riffs off albums by Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin or Allman Brothers. When I started to get into instrumental music, I hit a brick wall. It was McLaughlin, Dixie Dregs, Return to Forever. That’s very difficult music to play. They kept supporting and encouraging me.
Q. Since you grew up in North Carolina, is playing here special to you?
A. I’ve lived in Georgia longer than I’ve lived in North Carolina, but at the same time it’ll always be my home. I still go back and visit family. My brother moved to Topsail Island, and we visited him recently. I have other people close to me in Asheville and Charlotte. It covers the whole state.
Q. Is playing cathartic considering the recent losses?
A. Playing definitely helps, especially if you’re in a situation where you can get out of the way of the music and let it come through you. That’s another big reason I’m looking forward to going out and doing this. I need some healing time.
Jimmy Herring and The Invisible Whip
When: 8 p.m. Monday.
Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
Details: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.