By STEVE SEYMOUR
Jimmie Bones, keyboard player for pop star Kid Rock, has an affinity for northern Michigan.
A musician's musician, Bones has family roots in the Upper Peninsula and contributed to three songs on the "Escanaba in Da Moonlight" soundtrack. If that wasn't enough, his U. P. connection also includes performing and vacationing north of the Mackinac Bridge.
A "key" member of the Twisted Brown Trucker Band for a dozen years, Bones has recorded and toured with Kid Rock, the Dearborn native who released the incredibly popular "Rock N Roll Jesus" album last October.
Bones was waiting for a flight at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, when we were finally able to chat after playing telephone tag for several days.
At the time, he had recently performed at the Video Games Awards in Las Vegas, broadcast on the Spike network, which highlighted Kid Rock's smash hit "So Hott."
Bones explained he met Rock in the mid 1990s while the two were involved in separate projects at a Detroit recording studio.
While Bones has worked with bluesmen Robert Bradley and R. L. Burnside, as well as Uncle Kracker, his career is most closely associated with Kid Rock. Rock, also known as Bob Ritchie, broke on the national scene in the fall of 1999 with the song "Cowboy," on which Bones received a co-writer credit.
Not long after, Bones became involved in the "Escanaba in Da Moonlight," the motion picture comedy starring Chelsea native Jeff Daniels. Bones worked with soundtrack producer Alto Reed, the long-time sax player for Bob Seger, along with Jim McCarty, guitarist for The Rockets and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. The three musicians wrote and performed "Deer Track Blues," "Escanaba Mama" and "M35."
Bones was quite pleased with his musical collaboration with Reed and McCarty, two highly respected veterans of the Detroit rock 'n' roll scene. The soundtrack, which also featured songs by Michigan natives Glenn Frey and Ted Nugent, appeared on Reed's Harmonie Park International label.
Bones, who grew up on the family farm near Bad Axe in Michigan's Thumb area, was already quite familiar with the Upper Peninsula before he contributed to the movie soundtrack.
His Grandfather Trombly grew up near Rock in northern Delta County, while is father, James Trombly, was raised in Escanaba. His mother's Warchock side is traced back to the Shingleton area in Alger County.
Born James Trombly in Detroit, the musician was tagged "Trombone" and finally "Bones," as a kid. "I was pretty skinny, anyway," he said
Bones spent time on vacation in the Munising area where his grandmother lived, and played stops at Marquette and Mackinac Island when he was on tour with Robert Bradley's Backwater Surprise.
More touring will be on tap for Bones this year when Kid Rock and the Twisted Brown Trucker Band play dates around the world. While he has performed in many European countries, Bones is looking forward to his first concert dates in Japan.
With the stress of travel and being away from home, Bones said touring is difficult. "It's hard but we make it work," he said.
And, Bones does work hard. As a member of the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, he has shown his versatility, playing keyboards, organ, piano, harmonica, clavinet, synthesizer, synth bass and Jews's harp. Other members of the band include Marlon Young, lead guitar; Jason Krause, guitar; Stefanie Eulinberg, drums; Aaron Julison, bass; Paradime, turntables; Larry Fratangelo, percussion; Rayse Biggs and David MacMurray, horns; and Barbera Payton and Stacy Plunk, background vocals.
Called by Rock the "Loudest Band in America Today," the group is adept at many musical genres, sometimes mixing them all into one song.
Among the many hits the band will play in concert this year is "All Summer Long," which includes interpolations of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London."
Specifically, the song borrows the keyboard line from "Werewolves" and the title and guitar riff from the Skynyrd classic to create a nostalgic look back to the late 1970s.
In the song, Rock recalls a 1979 trip he made to an unspecified area in the north of the state where he fell in love with a 17-year-old girl. The infectious tune includes the line, "It was summertime in northern Michigan."
"We all take pride in being from Michigan. 'All Summer Long' represents where we're from. But, it could be anywhere kids congregate around a lake," Bones said in explaining what the song means to him.
During his off-time, Bones stays at his home north of Lapeer where he does his own logging to "stay in shape" until the next tour comes along.