House of Mansions by Jim Sampson
It is not often I write about the accomplishments of friends, so I thought it was high time that I commit to writing about my co-host of the Jim and Terry Show Podcast, Jim!
We have talked quite often, and at times extensively, on our podcast, about Jim's music, but I don't think I have created a written post, so here goes.
Jim and I are musicians who never made a living out of our passion for music. Well, I never made a living out of it, but Jim and his brother Bob were in a full-time rock band that did get as far as embarking on a tour of Western Canada. While I chose academics and became a teacher, Jim , with a young family at this point, abandoned the rock guitarist aspirations and switched his professional life to the world of business. When my family relocated north of the city of Toronto, we became frequent visitors and participants at Jim's home church. That is where our paths crossed. Our friendship followed as circumstances revealed common struggles in faith, and life, and a common interest in music and people.
We became squash buddies along the way, too. We tried to find a sport that we could enjoy while trying to increase our fitness level, but were were content to simply be 2 guys with entry level racquets, holes in our socks, worn out running shoes, looking as rough as we played. The determination on the squash courts represented determination in life, and this led to where we are these days: both retired, with lots of time, sharing coffees instead of squash courts, still gabbing about life once a week only now we press record on these chats and post to YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD9tMmwZ0qHuneeX18UkUhg).
All of that is part of the mix that I bring to writing about Jim and his passion and commitment to recording his music, his way, and living his dream of getting the material he has in his head, onto some form of digital or physical medium (CD) and possibly still doing a gig here and there! Ah, the dreams live on!
What has always impressed me is Jim's passion -whether it is his passion for his faith (a devout Christian), or his church (where he spends much of his time helping out and in leadership), or in sports (our squash games were was akin to medieval jousting, neither one would want to lose the final match and each game was played with equal parts ferocity and laughter).
Passion is what Jim brings to his music, too. And he is determined to succeed. However, passion, and determination will only take you so far in accomplishing your goals. You must have skill, and be able to identify what you can and cannot do on your own. Jim is able to express his musical ideas as a one-man-band, jack-of-all-trades, learning to use a laptop, recording software, microphone, guitars (acoustic, electric and bass) to tell the stories he wants to tell, in the style he wants to, without being told what he can or cannot do. And for the most part, Jim does it all well - an excellent guitar player, bass player and vocalist, with a hint of Bob Dylan's poetic predilection too. Preparing digital files of music and design for duplication? That was another story
Part of Jim's story is also one of overcoming learning challenges and managing life with dyslexia. Jim has become an effective communicator with a curiosity fueled by a wide-ranging interest in life. Whether he is speaking at the church, in small men's groups or in casual conversation, he is able to get his ideas across effectively. Watching films and documentaries, as well as listening to radio programs or podcasts, are some of the ways Jim satisfies his curiosity. And all of this comes out in his new release - House of Mansions.
Though Jim is a guitar-based song-writer, he hears a lot of other parts in his head as he records his ideas on his laptop. From bass lines, to additional electronic/synth sounds, he is able to create music that embraces innovative ideas as he follows his inner muse. His album is thematically rooted in the gospel, and musically anchored in the rock genre (traditional 4 piece rock band). He uses layers of vocal harmonies suggesting some familiarity with heavenly choir. He is a masterful story-teller and his lyrics weave stories that creates and holds the interest of his listeners.
Recording his music was a challenge, at times, especially when Covid 19 kept his extended family home. His house was always busy and finding quiet moments to record made Jim's goal of creating his own album a difficult process of starts and stops. However, he did persist and was ready to pursue duplication services in the fall of 2022. Armed with his music files, document files for his lyrics, and art - which he also created for his album - Jim learned that there was still much more to do to satisfy the design demands of the music company that was duplicating his music and producing the CD's for him. At our age and stage, we cannot afford to tear our hair out, so after learning of Jim's struggles to get his dream album reproduced, we chatted about whether we could overcome the remaining obstacles by combining our diverse skill sets. We could do the design work together. And off we went.
I must confess to enjoying the process of having Jim go over his music in my little Hobbit Hole basement studio. We had to proof-read all of his lyrics, decide on correct punctuation, font size and style, discuss the layout and how to organize his text files in ways that met the music duplication company's file format. It was all a pretty steep learning curve, but by spending hours with Jim, sharing pots of coffee, listening to his music, and going over the minutia with him, I learned to appreciate his skill and talent as a musician and poet (of course we had times of pulling out our hair too) and in the end the files, audio and visual, were sent off and his album was printed and reproduced in time for Christmas this past year. I'm pretty sure there House of Mansion CD's in stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Here's a salute to determination, passion, belief, and the years of friendship that made a retirement dream come true for Jim!
Jim's album, House of Mansions, is available for streaming online, on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/@jimsampson3700) or if you want a physical copy of the CD, you can contact Jim by leaving a comment on his YouTube channel.