The Jimmie Van Zant Band
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The Jimmie Van Zant Band

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The best kept secret in music


Southern rocker Jimmie Van Zant, first cousin of late Lynyrd Skynyrd founder Ronnie Van Zant, will release his debut album, "Southern Comfort", via J-Bird Records this summer. The set will compromise original material recorded with the hard touring Jimmie Van Zant Band, as well as a cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, "Simple Man."-Jonathan Cohen - Billboard Daily Music News

The Van Zant legend continues to grow and spread throughout the land twenty-three years after the plane crash that killed, among others, Ronnie Van Zant, the charismatic lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ronnie's brother Donnie continues to sing and play guitar with his band .38 Special, while kid brother Johnny Van Zant maintains the front man position in the Skynyrd band of the 21st century. And then we have the cousin. Yep, Jimmie Van Zant, a hard working rock and roll singer his own self, who sometimes sounds like an almost spooky cross between Johnny and Donnie.
Jimmie Van Zant Band fans will recognize "Southern Comfort" as a reissue of a project from a few years back, albeit a remastered and repackaged one, with Confederate battle flags and a whole bunch of down Southern jukin' goin' on. "Get Up" kicks off the set with a rebel yell and a fist to the gonads, and you think the Southern Rock is hittin' you in the face pretty hard, but that's before you hear the next track, "Bad Habits," a song that rocks along with genuine Jacksonville jag.
The third song is hard for me to comment on, simply because I count myself among those legions of folks who were blown away by the death of Ronnie Van Zant back in 1977. Heck I was at the last show right here in Greenville, SC. So many bands have tried to put their heartfelt feelings for Ronnie into song, and Charlie Daniels even did it twice, with two excellent tunes, "Reflections" and "Sail Away" from his latest album. But sometimes it seems the emotions and the desire to express a feeling get in the way of creating a good song. Such is the case here. Not that "Ronnie's Song" is a bad tune. It is filled with heart, but it seems at times to be trying a little too hard.
The title track, "Southern Comfort" rocks. I found myself looking for the volume control to crank it up a notch or two. The JVZ Band conjures up the freebird spirit big time, playing some excellent Southern Rock.
Jimmie pulls out a very nice cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd chestnut "Simple Man," with righteous guitar leads and heavenly background harmonies, and "Here to Stay" is a country romp that tells the story of a family fighting to keep their family farm from begin seized.
The set closes with another up-against-the-wall-redneck-mother-rocker, "Party in the Parking Lot." It seems the Jimmie Van Zant Band doesn't even stop after the bar closes, they just move the fun outside. My kind of band.
The Jimmie Van Zant Band may not be Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they rock some serious Southern smoke that would no doubt put a smile on the face of ol' Ronnie himself.
- Michael B. Smith

- Gritz CD Reviews


Southern Comfort, J-Bird Records June 2000


Feeling a bit camera shy


Jimmie was born in Jacksonville , Florida - a city known mostly for its military connections. As Jimmie got older, that was all about to change.

Jimmie's cousin Ronnie, along with a group of high school buddies, were about to put the town on the map as the Home of Southern Rock. That group was Lynyrd Skynyrd.

As Jimmie grew, so did Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the young Jimmie began to find that he wanted to follow in cousins Ronnie and Donnie's footsteps and become a singer.

After years of suffering the tribulations of rock and roll - incompetent mangers and agents, group breakups, and shrinking markets, - Jimmie decided to move west to make a fresh start.

It wasn't long long before he reformed a red-hot southern rock band. His fresh start landed with a national tour, and the rest, as they say, became history. Jimmie has not been off the road since.

With conviction Jimmie states, "I have always believed that music can change people's lives and if I can do something to make someone's life a little more enjoyable, then I feel I have done my job well. That's why I am here and that is also the reason why there is Southern Rock."