Tim Tucker
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Tim Tucker

Decatur, Alabama, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1989

Decatur, Alabama, United States
Established on Jan, 1989
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"Kevin Bacon TV show to feature Alabama musician’s song"

Tim Tucker's "degrees of separation" from Kevin Bacon have decreased.

The Decatur musician's song "Go Easy On Me" will appear in the June 23 episode of "City on a Hill," the new Showtime crime drama Bacon stars in.

Set in Boston during the '90s, "City on a Hill" airs 8 p.n. central. The show's producers include movie stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Bacon, of course, is a bold-font actor too, boasting filmography that includes “Mystic River,” “A Few Good Men,” “Animal House,” “Flatliners” and many more notable pictures.


Tucker received word his tune would be in the show, via a text message from Tanvi Patel, CEO of Crucial Music, a Studio City, Calif.-based agency that pitches film, tv and commercial song placements.

Tucker’s first reaction was, “a bit of disbelief, because I’ve had so many songs on hold and it seemed like it would never happen.” He then celebrated the “City on a Hill” placement by calling his parents, he says. “They’ve never wavered in their support for me and pursuing music as a profession.”

"Go Easy On Me" is a sweet, melancholic and stirring duet with Michelle Malone, a singer from Atlanta who's worked with artists such as Gregg Allman and Indigo Girls. Tucker wrote the song and played acoustic and electric piano, guitars and organ on the track, recorded mostly at his home studio. Phil Skipper is featured on bass. Sigurdur Birkis, whose previous credits include TLC and Will Hoge, recorded his drums for "Go Easy On Me" in Chicago, as well as mixing the track. The song previously appeared on Tucker's 2014 album "Leftovers."


Tucker draws musical inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt and Oasis. If you frequented Southeastern bars during the ’90s you may have seen him perform with The Cheesebrokers, an earlier adopter of the now common “all ’80s" cover-band concept.

In 1997, “Purple Rain” maestro Prince sat-in with The Cheesebrokers during a gig at Birmingham’s Five Points Music Hall.

Tucker wrote “Go Easy On Me” years ago on his mom’s piano, “with the idea that it would be a duet between two lovers who had been through very difficult circumstances.” Following the 2011 death of his wife, Glynnis Cory Tucker though, following a four-year battle with cancer, “the song has taken on a new meaning,” Tim says.

Asked what Malone added aesthetically to "Go Easy On Me," Tucker replies, "Everything." They'd been introduced by fellow Decatur native Katie Herron, who at the time was playing drums with Malone, who'd relocated to Decatur. "We hit it off and she invited me to join her band," Tucker says. "She also helped out a great deal when my wife was sick."

Tucker plans on watching the “City on a Hill” episode with his song in it, from his couch. He admits he didn’t catch the show’s June 16 premiere but had read about the project.

He says he has three other songs shortlisted for TV and film placement, including Beatles-channeling cut “Feel Like a Gun,” boasting guitar solos from Huntsville musician Dave Anderson of Brother Cane fame. Tucker describes the process for submitting songs for TV and film as “incredibly convoluted. But once you get in the door so to speak it kind of opens some doors.” “Go Easy On Me” is his first placement. He cites AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul” as a TV series using music particularly effectively.

For many pop culture enthusiasts of a certain age, "Footloose," the hit 1984 film about a small town that bans dancing, is the first project that leaps to mind involving Kevin Bacon and music. The corresponding soundtrack was also a smash, with splashy hits like Kenny Loggins' title track and Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For The Boy." Tucker is partial to the synthastic "Holding Out For a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler and "Never" by Moving Pictures from that album.

And oh, regarding his status on the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the conversational game whereby participants attempt to connect entertainers to the prolific Bacon via in six projects or less:


“I think it was actually just two degrees before this,” Tucker says, noting he’s performed at Birmingham venue WorkPlay, as has Bacon’s country-rock sibling duo, the Bacon Brothers.

By Matt Wake | mwake@al.com
June 22, 2019 - AL.com Matt Wake


"Musician Offers Peek Inside Song Selected for Showtime"

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — For months, Tim Tucker sidled up to the piano and repeatedly played the first line of what would become a stirring duet. Over and over again the notes of the melody flowed off of his fingers as he sang, "Stormy weekends, they get me down, ain't nothing left for me in this town, come on baby, go easy on me."

"I had the first line and the whole idea of 'Go Easy on Me' for a while, but I couldn't ever finish it. I would play it on the piano over and over again. Finally, it just all came out," the Decatur singer-songwriter said.

Last Sunday, the song Tucker worked a year and a half on sounded through hundreds of thousands of homes across the country as part of the second episode of Showtime's "City on a Hill." The series premiere of the 1990s Boston crime drama starring Kevin Bacon and executively produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon was watched by more than 1.38 million viewers.

"I had no idea when it was coming. I just had to sit there and watch. About 10 1/2 minutes into the show, it cut from a street scene to a guy in a room trying to hide stolen money and I heard the first notes of the song's bridge. I knew it was that immediately. They played almost a minute of it," said Tucker, who watched the episode from his Northeast Decatur home. ...

Guided by his father, a music minister, and his mother, a pianist, Tucker's musical journey started early in life. As a child, he balanced little league baseball practice with piano lessons. At 16, he received his first guitar, a present from his grandfather. In his 20s and 30s, Tucker performed gigs with The Whitey Herzogs, Tim Tucker and The Uh Huhs and the Cheesebrokers across the Southeast, including local hot spots, The Brick and Cafe 113.

Now, at 48, Tucker's soul-stirring lyrics and melodies are catching the attention of music industry executives through agencies that pitch songs for film, TV and commercial placements. Tucker started submitting his songs to the agencies six years ago.

"There have been probably 15 to 20 times one of my songs has been placed on hold. To get placed on hold is a big thing in itself. That means you are down to the final three or four songs," Tucker said. "One of the guys I deal with is very encouraging. He keeps telling me, 'Your songs are good enough, just hang on.' It's pretty cool when you hear that. It gives you the encouragement to keep going."

"Go Easy on Me" represents the first selection of one of Tucker's songs. Written as a duet, Tucker initially performed the song with Tasha Jones. The song included on "City on a Hill" featured Tucker and Atlanta musician and former Decatur resident Michelle Malone.

"Michelle heard me play it at a gig and said we should play it. The first time we played it was at Eddie's Attic. The place went bananas," Tucker said. "I'm not sure what it is about the song people like so much. Maybe it's the marriage of the way the music sounds and the lyrics. For me, there are a couple of lines in there I really like and a couple I wish I could change. But that's just a normal songwriter for you."

Along with Malone on vocals and Tucker on acoustic and electric piano, guitars and organ, the song featured Phil Skipper on bass and Sigurdur Birkis on drums.


"This ranks up there as one of the highlights so far," said Tucker. "You're sitting there watching the TV in your living room and it's difficult to imagine how many people are hearing that song. But once that sinks in, it is pretty amazing."

Tucker currently has three other songs placed on hold.

CATHERINE GODBEY, Decatur Daily
June 29, 2019 - Associated Press - Catherine Godbey


"Uh-Huh! to Tim Tucker You can't say no to his musical energy"

Last Thursday evening I sipped a fine malbec at a high-top table and inhaled the ambiance of Café 113 and Tim Tucker's soulful voice. He was in his regular spot on his regular night, but something was different. There was energy about the place.

The energy was Tim's as he prepared for the following night — the release of his band's self-titled, debut album, "Tim Tucker and the Uh-Huhs."

As the evening progressed and patrons shouted requests from the far corners of the narrow bar, one thought pressed on my mind: This local musician has received more requests for his original songs than covers. He must be good.

My thought proved true as an acoustic version of Prince's "Little Red Corvette" vibrated off his lips, displaying his versatility.

The next night band mates Jeff Sharp and James Pressnell joined Tucker, along with several special guests, in their rise to stardom as they released their first album with a celebratory concert at The Brick.

Opening their show with the popular song "Are You Ready For Me," a packed house erupted into applause confirming that Decatur is ready for Tim Tucker and the Uh-Huhs.

Tucker, 35, Sharp, 30 and Pressnell, 29, have been surrounded by music their entire lives.

Tucker's dad, John Tucker, was music director of several Baptist churches. Mom, Joy Tucker, sings and plays the piano, and his brother, John Tucker, Jr., is a talented songwriter.

"I've sung my whole life and started playing piano when I was 10," he said. "I guess music is in my genes."

After graduating Austin High School in 1989, Tucker perfected his art by touring with various bands as guitarist, pianist and vocalist. He soon became a regular on stage with The Whitey Herzogs, forming a bond with Sharp, the bassist, and Pressnell, drummer.

Almost a year ago, the trio conceived Tim Tucker and the Uh-Huhs and quickly began writing and recording songs.

"I had tons of songs lying around and as we recorded we kept writing," said Tim. "We finally decided on 13 for the album."

While he doesn't necessarily believe the chosen 13 are the best of their collection, he does believe they were the ones ready to record.

"We felt these 13 were finished," he said. "These flowed well and came together nicely."

Ten songs were recorded at Shabbey Road Studio in Decatur, while the others were recorded in Huntsville at Sound Cell Recording Studios.

Of the songs chosen, he doesn't have a personal favorite but does count "Amen" and "Seven Sunsets Away" as lyrical bests.

Jeff and James are longtime friends. Both attended Decatur High School, moved to California with the band Little Big Man and returned to Decatur together in 1996 to form the Whitey Herzogs.

"Tim, Jamie (James) and I are familiar with each other's music preferences," said Sharp. "We mesh well together and adapt to each other's styles easily."

Even though Sharp's bass isn't featured in "She Spends All Her Time in My Mind," it is his favorite on the album.

Great inspirations

Tucker's personal influences include a musician, a civil rights pioneer and his own religious beliefs.

"Bob Dylan showed the possibility of the power of a song," he said, "and no one has ever had a more powerful influence on me than Martin Luther King Jr. Seeing what he went through is very inspirational."

Inspired by King indeed. Tucker recently began work on four new songs he hopes will include a voiceover of King.

"I've been talking to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery about recording this EP (a short album)," he said. "It's still very early in the process, but if everything is approved and we get to go through with it the Law Center will sell the albums and receive all financial benefits. I hope to be able to give something back to them — to make a contribution."

Tucker insists recording is the easiest part of releasing an album.

"Being in the studio is the most fun," he said. "We could do that everyday and never tire of it. The business side is much more tedious."

While the band is talking to several record labels about possible record deals, no contracts have been signed, but fans have already declared the album a success.

"You're never bored with Tim's music," said Carlton McMasters of Decatur. "It appeals to all ages with renditions of songs by artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Michael Jackson. He has a God-given talent that not many people possess."

Undeniably a wordsmith, Tucker concocts verses like "Let me Mary Magdalene you," and "I drank wine from the grapes of wrath," that will forever be synonymous with Tim Tucker and the Uh-Huhs.

With a sturdy fan base and raw talent they are sure to impress the music industry with their mix of haunting, bluesy and retro styles.

Kate Klepper, Decatur Daily
FEBRUARY 23, 2006 - The Decatur Daily


"Tim Tucker and the Uh Huhs"

In one night – my world changed. As a mist of rain fell, a disc of music was placed in my hand and the words to listen and tell were spoken in my ear. Never did I think that I would fall in love with the voice that sang the romantic and wittily written words on the disc … nor did I think I’d come to love the man behind the voice.

Never say never.

On a warm September day in 2004, as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan blew across North Alabama– I listened to a compilation of true melody and prose that made me catch my breath. Not only was the music moving, charismatic and sensual – the lyrics were exceptionally written. I, being a writer and poet, am drawn to good lyrics and the lyrics I heard that day touched me like none other I’d heard. I found my body moving to the rhythm, found myself stopping to dance, stopping to take in everything I was hearing. To say the least, I was moved, mesmerized, in awe, amazed – lost in wonder - lost to the words, the voice, the man.

That was just the first CD.

Fast forward to a cool February evening in 2006, as the remnants of a winter storm blew across North Alabama – I again listened … though this time to a new CD, yet, one just as masterfully written. Once again, Tim Tucker had drawn me in, though this time, the Uh Huhs helped him.

From Genesis to Exodus and everything in between, I felt every word and every note. I didn’t just hear the music – I literally felt it. It was as though the voice and the music slithered along my skin, embodying me with the meaning. I floated with the melody; it lingered in my subconscious as though I were sleeping within a musical dream. I awoke a changed woman.

The new CD took me over just as the first had. It is joyful, sorrowful, soulful, and pure – all wrapped up in one enigmatic disc of honest music.

Tim Tucker and the Uh Huhs are force to be reckoned with.

M. Gatlin (Gatlianne)
2006 - Gatlianne - All Poetry


"Trauma Survivor Feature - Tim Tucker"

Trauma Survivor Feature: Tim Tucker

Tim Tucker is a maverick. He's a musical powerhouse who isn't afraid to express his opinions and beliefs through his music or through every day conversation. He is a fervent apostle to Dr. Martin Luther King and one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I've ever met. He is also a trauma survivor.

Music has been a great part of his recovery, his healing, and his coping. He has survived the deepest of grief when his wife died after long suffering from cancer. He is now a vehement proponent of cancer research and awareness. He understands grief, PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety and he isn't afraid to talk about those things. Tim understands that being a voice willing to speak out helps others heal.

Sometimes that voice is through a vulnerable Facebook or Instagram post and sometimes it's through evocative song lyrics like those in his latest single "Blood of the Blues," which features the Lamont Landers Band (America's Got Talent) and Wade Brown (The Voice). This song "is a tribute to the redemptive power of the blues and it's very unique role in the African-American experience from slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights Movement, to Black Lives Matter."

"I am oppression. I am Jim Crow South. I am a movement; I am word of mouth. I am imprisoned, but I am free. I am Memphis, I am...Mississippi. I am Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee. I am guitars, crossroads, alcohol, and poverty. I am the holes in your marching shoes. I am the right to vote however I choose. The truth is explosive and I am the fuse. Burning with the blood of the blues. I am burning with the blood of the blues." -

• Blood of the Blues (c) Tim Tucker

His platform is civil rights and equality; it's compassion for the human experience and deeply felt love for those in suffering. He is fully aware of his born privileges and uses that awareness to make a difference.

Tim Tucker is a movement. His trauma has not beaten him - it has influenced him and he uses that influence to help create great change in this world
________________________________________
Tim Tucker on Spotify
Electronic Press Kit
Booking Info: TimTuckerBooking@gmail.com

© M/Gatlianne 2020
01/24/2020 Trauma Made Me Sassy - Gatlianne - Trauma Made Me Sassy


"Fans say 'Uh Huh!' to Tim Tucker's originals"

Relaxing in the billiard room of The Brick Deli after a long night, Tim Tucker declared, "The Brick is my home!" loudly enough to wake up half of Decatur.

Tucker, in his 11th year as a full-time professional singer-songwriter, playing several times a week in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Atlanta or Nashville, hopes his latest project and upcoming album will carry his voice even farther from the deli on Second Avenue Southeast where he plays every other Wednesday.

"People just see you playing an acoustic guitar, they automatically think you're Mr. Mellow. I'm not. I'd much rather be playing a band gig than a solo gig," 34-year-old Tucker said.

So Tucker started a band. He calls it Tim Tucker and The Uh Huhs.

While most of Tucker's performances still find him solo on stage, strumming out a blend of covers along with his originals, his new band project is gaining momentum.

In March, Tucker recruited The Whitey Herzogs' founding members, guitarist Jeff Sharp and drummer Jamie Pressnell, to form The Uh Huhs, a conduit whose sole purpose is taking Tucker's songs to a larger, electrified sound.

"When there's a band involved as opposed to the solo-acoustic thing, people tend to be more into it," he said. "The reaction to The Uh Huhs' stuff and the Herzogs' stuff has been phenomenal."

The willingness of talented artists such as Sharp and Pressnell to play his music was a major stamp of approval, he said.

Just three songs away from cutting their first album in mid-October, Tucker said he has another 60 or 70 songs that he wants The Uh Huhs to record.

The upcoming full-length album includes the songs, "Never Ever Never Ever," "Oh No!," "Are You Ready For Me?," "Ashtray," and "Go Easy On Me," which features Tasha Jones, a staple at Tucker's shows, on vocals.

Shabbey Road studio

When he's not on stage, he's making music in his studio, cleverly dubbed Shabbey Road.

"Whenever I write a song, the music is already there," he said. "My body knows when I'm ready to write a song, the same way it knows when I need to eat.

"I'll just sit down at the piano, or sit down with the guitar, and I don't even know what's going to come out. I'll open my mouth and one line comes out. More often than not, it's enough to build a song around."

He knew he was onto something when people at a show in Huntsville began shouting "No!" to Beatles covers and calling out for more originals.

"I grew up here and I have friends here, and they're trying to encourage it (my original music). The only reason it meant more to me in Huntsville was that they (the audience) were people I don't know," he said. "No one was more shocked than me, but I loved it."

Tucker's influences, which include Dylan, the Beatles and, more recently, the White Stripes, Jeff Buckley and Oasis, show up in his songwriting, making his music seem familiar to audiences hearing it for the first time.

"A lot of people say, 'Your songs sound like songs I should already know,' " he said. "I'm proud to wear my influences on my sleeve."

Tucker also plans to release a side project around the time The Uh Huhs' album comes out.

"That will be an EP, a shorter album, maybe four or five songs, based on the Civil Rights movement," he said. "Martin Luther King is as much an influence on my music as Bob Dylan is."

Tucker said he hoped Civil Rights museums would carry the compact discs as souvenirs and keep any profits from sales.

"I don't want any financial gain or notoriety, any of that, from (the EP). I just want to show my respect and appreciation for those people."

His current work is drawing interest from high places in the music industry, he said, and he hopes for the opportunity to take his songwriting to a larger audience.

"For musicians, there's no 401K. You never know when it's going to dry up or what's going to happen," he said. ". . . I have enough confidence and faith in what I'm doing to know that it's going to work out. As long as I'm honest to what I do, I'll be happy."

Seth Burkett, Decatur Daily
SEPTEMBER 15, 2005 - The Decatur Daily


"That time Prince crashed an Alabama cover band's gig"

The Cheesebrokers had just launched into a cover of U2's "Angel of Harlem" when the guy they'd hired to take up door-money called singer/guitarist Paul Milazzo to the side of the stage and said, "He's here."

"What are you talking about?" Milazzo replied.

"Prince," the door-money dude said.

Milazzo looked over to the side of stage right and there was Prince - the superstar musician and singer of "Purple Rain," "When Doves Cry" and countless other super-sexy hits, bobbing head and tapping foot to the faux-R&B U2 tune Cheesebrokers were playing.

Prince was wearing sunglasses, a long camel-colored coat, animal print scarf, black pants and tall heels. He wore futuristic-looking gold clips on his ears. He looked like he could've been at the Grammys.

The five members of the Cheesebrokers were all wearing matching, power-blue industrial cleaning suits. They looked like the cheesy '80s cover band they proudly were.

Realizing Prince was standing just feet away watching, "you feel like a shock," says Cheesebrokers guitarist Matt Mathis. "Like you're caught doing something you're not supposed to, playing guitar in front of that guy, to the degree that he can play."

This all was happening around 1:15 a.m. or so the night of Saturday, Jan. 19, 1997, inside Birmingham's Five Points Music Hall. Prince had played a concert at Boutwell Auditorium earlier that evening.

Right before the first verse of "Angel of Harlem," Milazzo walked over to Cheesebrokers keyboardist Tim Tucker, who was about to start his lead vocals on the song, learned into Tucker's ear and said, "Sing this one good, man. Look who just showed up."

From behind his Korg 1 synthesizer, Tucker turned to the right and saw Prince nonchalantly grooving, with Prince's entire band standing behind him. "Pure adrenaline took over," Tucker recalls now. "But I ended up singing that song really, really well. I was hitting those Bono high notes like there was no tomorrow. And I would glance over occasionally, Prince had his hands in his pockets, head bobbing and I was like, 'This is pretty cool.'"

Some revelers in the Five Points Music Hall crowd had noticed Prince on the side of the stage and began to get excited. Very excited.

The Cheesebrokers, which also featured guitarist Matt Mathis, bassist Michael Green and drummer John Harford, finished their U2 cover. Milazzo asked a friend offstage to ask Prince to come out and play a song with the band. Prince declined.

Then Milazzo called out for The Cheesebrokers to play Prince's flirty 1985 smash "Raspberry Beret" next, even though they'd already played the song earlier that night. "The plan was to butcher his songs until he came out to join us," Milazzo says.

Milazzo, who was playing a Gibson Les Paul guitar, kept waving to Prince to join them onstage. Prince kept shaking his head no, even though musicians in Prince's band were by now nudging him on the shoulder to go out there.

Then, in exaggerated pleading, Milazzo got on his knees.

Finally, Prince walked onstage, lowered the mic stand, grabbed the microphone and started singing.

The 300 or so people remaining in Five Points Music Hall from the maybe 600 or so there earlier that night, went completely bonkers. Screaming. Rushing towards the stage. Trying to reach over the barrier. "And for that brief span of time I felt, on a much smaller scale of course, this was what The Beatles had to put up with all the time," Tucker says.

The venue quickly mobilized extra security guards, clad in black T-shirts, to the front of the stage.

Prince sang a verse or so of "Raspberry Beret" with The Cheesebrokers - Tucker remembers him singing "really high and loud, he might have been joking around, him singing his song in that setting."

While Prince being there definitely charged the air, The Cheesebrokers got over any nerves within a half song or so Mathis says. "We kept it pretty light-hearted and our band was not a high-pressure environment."

That night there were more than a few empty beer bottles on the Five Points Music Hall drum riser. While onstage with Cheesebrokers, Prince picked up one of those bottles and "started like stumbling around the stage like he was drunk and just kind of laughing and that kind of stuff," Tucker says. Not long after that Prince strode offstage as the crowd went mad again.

After Cheesebrokers finished out "Raspberry Beret," the group realized there was no way they were going to top what just happened. They walked offstage. Mathis, Milazzo, Green and Harford then hung out with Prince and his band for a several minutes.

Backstage at Five Points Music Hall, Mathis says, "Prince came through and individually thanked each of us, albeit very briefly but he was very gracious in that way. Obviously, we were just banging around in a cover band and he didn't have to be that decent."

During this phase of Prince's career he was mired in contractual tangle with Warner Brothers Records. He'd changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. People who write and talk about music for a living started referring to him The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, or sometimes just The Artist, for short. One thing's for sure, Prince didn't want to be called Prince anymore.

During their backstage pleasantries Mathis recalls Tucker getting about half the word "Prince" out of his mouth before catching himself, "and Prince kind of laughed about it."

Tucker had long been into Prince's music, particularly 1987 double-album masterpiece "Sign o' The Times," so "seeing him in person that close up was like meeting some mythical creature."

Mathis was also a fan. His favorite Prince cut was 1981 dance hit "Controversy." He'd attended the Boutwell show earlier that night, which opened with recent song "Jam of the Year," and included performances of "Purple Rain," "Take Me With U," a cover of James Brown's "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing" and, yes, "Raspberry Beret."

Someone asked The Cheesebrokers if they'd mind if Prince and his backing band, The New Power Generation, got onstage and jammed a little bit. The cover dudes happily obliged. They walked back onstage with The NPG to help familiarize Prince's band with their gear. For example, Mathis handed his Hamer DuoTone, a guitar with both acoustic and electric pickups, to New Power Generation's Kay Dyson, and gave her a quick tutorial on his Johnson Millennium amp, which could emulate sounds from various vintage and modern amplifiers. The NPG's keyboardist, (probably Morris Hayes during this era) only wanted to know the Hammond B3 setting on Tucker's synth.

After The Cheesebrokers left the stage, the New Power Generation erupted into a 30 or 45 minute performance Milazzo describes as "kind of a funk version of the Allman Brothers. Just a long jam of stuff. And our equipment sounded a whole lot better."

Mathis was pretty familiar with Prince's catalog, including his most recent record, 1996 triple-disc "Emancipation." But what the NPG was laying down on the Five Points Music Hall stage "was nothing I recognized. It was outstanding, of course."

Prince is known for his multi-instrumental prowess, having played many of the instruments on his early recordings. However, this night at Five Points, he mostly just sang and danced, even jumping off the drum-riser in his heels. A manager who'd accompanied Prince and the NPG to the music hall, rushed onstage to remove The Cheesebrokers' empty bottles from the stage, no doubt to prevent a nightmare situation of Prince tripping over one and breaking his neck.

During one moment of his band's Five Points jam, Prince strutted over to the Korg synthesizer near the front of the stage. The NPG's keyboardist deferred and Prince played keys for a minute or so. Decades later, that synth now sits quietly in Tucker's home studio and needs a new motherboard. But even though the Korg no longer works and isn't worth repairing, Tucker has held onto it just because Prince played it. "Like, I'm not getting rid of that," he says.

During Prince and The NPG's jam, the crowd continued to lather, until the musicians bid adieu for a final time that night. After Prince and his band walked offstage they sought out each Cheesebroker and thanked them individually again. The the star and his crew "left in a motorcade that looked like a president coming out of a place," Tucker says.

In 1997, cellphones and camera phones had yet to become an omnipresent thing. Funnily enough, The Cheesebrokers had brought six or so disposable cameras to that gig, and handed them out to the audience, Tucker says, like some couples used to do at wedding receptions, to see what crazy photos their audience would take. But by the time Prince showed up, all the disposable cameras' film had been used up.

Luckily, a friend of Green's happened to have a camera there and took a few photos. If not for this documentation, Those snapshots appear to be the only artifact. No grainy VHS video footage on YouTube. Nothing.

The one audience member there I was able to track down (with Tucker's help) for this article was a college student back then. She now works as a government contractor. Some 21 years after the show, she remembers extremely little about Prince's performance - hey, it was after 1 a.m. on a weekend night - besides her observation Prince was "a very small person." (For his part, Mathis estimates the famed singer was no taller than 5-foot-6 even in those heels.)

After Prince left, Tucker found a pay phone outside and called musician buddy (and Brother Cane guitarist) Dave Anderson to tell him about the gig. He got voice-mail instead and left what was surely a crazy-sounding message. Tucker then went out to Birmingham late-night spot Marty's for some celebratory beverages. (He thinks the married members of Cheesebrokers called it a night.)

It was not entirely uncommon for Prince to show up after his concerts to jam at a local club. How his appearance at Five Points Music Hall was arranged is a story unto itself.

Earlier that day, Prince's manager had called Five Points Music Hall, telling general manager Sam Smithwick on the phone, "I have a certain artist in town who is interested in playing your venue later." Smithwick knew Prince had a concert in Birmingham that night. But he kept the possibility of Prince showing up at Five Points "somewhat secret." He even used the same language, "a certain artist," in talking things over with The Cheesebrokers.

Smithwick had several more phone conversations with management and arranged for Prince to be dropped off at the venue's back door.

He then found a quiet space inside Five Point Music Hall for Prince to relax. "I was taken by how polite he was," Smithwick says. Between his Boutwell show and Five Points appearance, Prince's entourage dined at Highland Avenue restaurant Botega, Smithwick says.

As Prince and the New Power Generation were taken care of backstage at Five Points, Smithwich walked the room to make sure his staff, from security to sound, was ready. "I worked hard to maintain a solid security team and knew that we could pull this off professionally," he says.

Earlier during The Cheesebrokers' set, a "tech" from Prince's tour showed up. He was a hulking figure with a model-esque woman on one arm and carrying a gold top Les Paul with his other arm. He wanted to sit-in on a few songs. The Cheesebrokers asked if the tech wanted to play a Prince number, in addition to "Raspberry Beret" they covered "1999" and "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man." "Nah, man," the tech replied. "I got to listen to that every night. Let's do something else." He then proceeded to jam with The Cheesebrokers on songs including "Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard,'" with the tech playing funk solos over Waylon Jennings' country tune.

After playing a few songs with The Cheesebrokers, the tech took his gold-top and hottie and left into the night. "We thought it was over after that," Tucker says.

Then 30 or 45 minutes later, Prince showed up. "Everyone knew that this was a special moment, seeing an artist of Prince's caliber, raw, in such an intimate setting," Smithwick says. Once Prince was onstage, Smithwick walked outside and started bringing more people off the sidewalk into the music hall.

"In retrospect, we figured out they'd planned this thing well," Mathis says. "The guy that had come early to play with guitar with us was obviously scouting everything, the location, gear and whether we were decent enough people where it would be OK for Prince to show up."

The Cheesebrokers formed in 1991, originally as a quartet. Milazzo, Green and Harford had all gone to the University of Alabama together, and Milazzo and Mathis, who'd attended University of Florida, had been friends since high school. At the time, most bands playing in Tuscaloosa were either jammy Grateful Dead-style groups or Seattle-influenced alternative combos. Now in 2018, there seems to be at least one '80s cover band in every town. But in the early-90s, Milazzo was ahead of the curve when he wanted to start a group playing Duran Duran, Men at Work, Rick Springfield, Flock of Seagulls and Poison covers. "We would purposely dress ridiculously just because we played a lot of goofy music and didn't want to be taken seriously," Milazzo says. Mathis adds, "We started with a great idea but weren't even particular talented or worked that hard at it. We just had a great time."

Still, this then-novel idea of a live band playing "Come On Eileen" or "Electric Avenue" was fun for college-aged people to dance and party to. The Cheesebrokers became a strong draw, particularly at venues like Tuscaloosa's Ivory Tusk and Auburn's War Eagle Supper Club. Tucker, a full-time North Alabama musician whose best friend in Tuscaloosa roomed with Milazzo, was brought in to add keyboards and provide another lead vocalist. The Cheesebrokers sold-out the now-shuttered Ivory Tusk for years. "I remember at one point," Mathis says, "the sound guy at the Tusk telling us, 'You guys have been dethroned. There's a band that outdraws you here now.' It was the Dave Matthews Band."

The Cheesebrokers deal with Five Points Music Hall was 90 percent of the door with a guarantee of around $3,500, Milazzo says. The 1997 Saturday night Prince showed up to, the cover was probably eight bucks or so.

While Milazzo certainly enjoyed some of Prince's songs, he was much more into acts like, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello and Rolling Stones. But that night at Five Points with The New Power Generation gave him a new perspective: "Just watching what they were doing I kind of became a fan. It a whole other level of expertise I hadn't really been close to before."

Maybe seven or so years into the band, Green moved to Portland, Ore., where he's now an attorney and continues to play in bands. Mathis switched to bass and then he left the group a couple years later. Milazzo carried on with a new version of The Cheesebrokers for a few more years. Ten or more years after the core band had last performed together they began reuniting for shows at Birmingham venues like WorkPlay and Iron City. "We've kind of packed it all up again," says Mathis, who's lived in Atlanta since 1996 and now works in the technology business. Milazzo is a Mobile, Ala. based insurance agent, while Harford resides in Columbus, Ga. Tucker remains a full-time musician and resides in Decatur.

Although Prince was the only famous musician The Cheesebrokers recall sitting-in with them, they'd occasionally have celebrity athletes, like former Bama and later NFL linebacker Cornelius Bennett hop onstage with them to hype the crowd. And they'd shared many misadventures. Like seeking shelter in a venue's walk-in cooler during a tornado scare. Or pushing school teacher desks together to form a makeshift stage at a college gig.

Five Points Music Hall, maximum capacity around 1,200, was at 1016 20th St. South in a space previously home to a Piggy Wiggly grocery. The venue hosted acts ranging from Cheap Trick to Fiona Apple before shuttering in 2003. A short-lived reboot went kaput around 2010. There's now a Homewood Suites hotel on the site.

On April 21, 2016, Prince was found on an elevator inside his Chanhassen, Minn. compound Paisley Park, dead from an accidental fentanyl overdose. Tucker "was just crushed. I'd always been a Prince fan - how could you not? A lot of people sent me messages that night."

Milazzo, Mathis and Tucker can't recall now what the very next Cheesebrokers show was after the Prince gig, but agreed it was likely a Tuscaloosa or Auburn bar gig.

Understandably, their Prince experience took on a bit of a legend. "We'd go to the next club and people would ask, 'How do you know Prince?'" Mathis says. "A lot of people didn't understand that he just kind of randomly showed up."

Sometimes it seems more people claim to have been there that night when Prince showed up than were actually there at the time.

And that's just fine with Milazzo. "Everybody that was there got a rare, close-up experience with a very groundbreaking musician. There's very few like him around anymore."

Matt Wake | mwake@al.com - AL.com


Discography

Blood of the Blues - Single, featuring the Lamont Landers Band and Wade Brown - 2019

It's Cold and Rainy in New York City - Single - 2015

No Assurances - EP - 2014

Never Ever - Single, featuring Michelle Malone - 2011

Leftovers - EP - 2011

Go Easy On Me - Single, featuring Michelle Malone - 2006

Tim Tucker and The UhHuhs - EP - 2004


Photos

Bio

Tim Tucker is a professional musician/singer-songwriter. He plays guitar, piano, organ, bass, and harmonica. He has been writing, recording, and performing for over twenty-five years. His performances have included the venues Eddie's Attic, WorkPlay, Exit Inn, Mercy Lounge, among others. In June 2019, he had a prominent song placement in the Showtime series, "City on a Hill," starring Kevin Bacon. The song, "Go Easy on Me," features Michelle Malone who Tim toured with for four years.

Tim's song "Never Ever" has been chosen for a movie (TBA) to be released in 2020. There are currently over 20+ holds for Tim Tucker's original songs for TV/Film including a 5-song hold for an upcoming superhero movie (TBA.)

He has not only shared the stage with Michelle, but also with The Drive By Truckers, Driving n' Crying,  Will Kimbrough, Dave Anderson (Brother Cane, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Atlanta Rhythm Section), Mindy Smith, Philip Shouse and Jeremy Asbrock (Gene Simmons Band, Ace Frehley Band), Lamont Landers, Wade Brown, Poet Gatlianne, and yes...even Prince!! 

He has released four CDs and is currently working on another. His first album in 1997 was produced by Johnny Sandlin (Allman Brothers, Wide Spread Panic). His most recent album, "No Assurances," was produced by Sigurdur Birkis (TLC, Will Hoge). 

Though he has been playing professionally since 1990, Tim took a break in 2007 to be primary caretaker for his wife during her cancer illness before her death in 2011.  In 2013, he returned to music full time. Tim continues to write, record from his extensive catalog of songs, and play gigs. 

Band Members