JIM GARY - Biography

From the Kerrville Folk Festival “New Folk” stage to Nashville’s Bluebird Café’s Sunday Writers’ Night to the here and now, JIM GARY has been delighting audiences with his charming wit, “very solid” songwriting (Kevin's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews) and “one of the warmest and richest voices on the local scene” (Maple Street Chapel Concert Series).
JIM GARY grew up is southeastern Michigan listening to all the great sounds of the ‘60s – Motown, Beatles and all those great Jimmy Webb songs. Picking up a guitar at age 14, he started learning chords and moved on to fingerpicking the songs of John Denver, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot. During this time (as well as through high school), Jim was writing songs – dozens of them with some “keepers” showing up along the way.

Working his way west, JIM GARY earned a degree at Michigan State University while playing college coffee houses and eventually wound up in Chicago – the stomping grounds of Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bob Gibson and Michael Smith. Honing his songwriting craft at the Old Town School of Folk Music with Gibson and Smith (Goodman had left for L.A. and Prine for Nashville), Jim also fell in with the likes of Frank Tedesso, Buddy Mondlock, Dan Bern, Al Day, Brian Anderson and James McCandless.

Bob Gibson introduced JIM GARY to the Kerrville Folk Festival where Jim was a “New Folk” finalist. Bob also invited Jim on stage with him at Hobson’s Choice in Chicago. Encouraged by Josh White, Jr. around a Kerrville campfire, Jim caught the ear of Bill Munger who passed Jim’s songs onto the audience of his radio show “A Mixed Bag”. Jim has also appeared several times on Chicago’s WBEZ’s “Flea Market” with each of the show’s hosts – Larry Rand, Art Thieme and Jim Post.

Since then, JIM GARY has performed around the Midwest opening for Carrie Newcomer, Hot Soup, Anne Hills and Josh White, Jr. Jim has also shared the stage with Tricia Alexander, James Durst, Jack Hamilton, Willy Porter and Michael Johnson. All along, Jim has been writing hundreds of songs (more and more “keepers”) with “My Main Man” receiving an Honorable Mention from Just Plain Folks – an internet community of over 40,000 musicians and writers.

JIM GARY’s recording career started with a single 45 of “The Magic Feather” b/w “Winds of Fortune” (recorded on the day Elvis died), followed by an EP of “Mama’s Cheatin’”, “Dancer’s Dream”, “Neatness Doesn’t Count” and “No Place to Die” (produced by Jack Hamilton and featuring Brian Anderson on piano and Lansing’s (MI) fave duo Spinnaker on bass and harmonica).

Jim’s first full-length CD “Midnight Muse” came in 1996 (produced and engineered by Victor Sanders at Lakeside Media in Chicago). “Midnight Muse” is a “delightful collection of songs” (
Bob Janis, WDCB’s “Folk Festival”) with a dozen original songs ranging from folk ballads to the uptempo full band “Go with the Flow” and “Winds of Fortune” to straight-up country “Mama’s Cheatin’” to a light jazz showtune-ish “Girl in the Gossamer Gown”.

The Christmas season that same year found JIM GARY’s “My Main Man” single CD (along with “Christmas Cookie Song”) receiving airplay on over 85 Country, Christian and Adult Contemporary stations in 35 states. As “My Main Man” spun it way around the country, Jim did numerous radio interviews from Michigan to Wisconsin to Nashville.

JIM GARY lives in the Chicago area, has recorded a CD of Michael Smith songs (“I Wanna Be Like Mike”) and continues to write and perform. Jim released a new CD of original music, Big Door... Little Wonder in 2014, two CDs (Unfolked) and (Wordplay) in 2019, a double-length CD of 24 previously unreleased original songs (From the Song Cellar) in 2021, and a holiday CD "A (Mostly) Merry Jim Gary Christmas!" in 2021.