Meet Stuttern’ Jimmy10/17/2012
“The stage fright is going to be there for as long as it’s going to be there. And I hope that’s for a long time, actually, because I don’t want an ego that’s too big.”
Stutterin’ Jimmy is one of the best people you’ll ever meet. Jimmy (full name Jimmy Enos) has, as the stage name implies, stuttered since an early age. Growing up, the speech impediment surrounded Enos in a feeling of isolation, something that he allowed to dominate a large portion of his life. So for music to have played the role in his life that it has — a kind of salvation for him — is remarkable, considering his journey.
“It all kind of started as a boy,” he recalled, sitting in the Royal Mile. “I had an experience on stage that was nerve wracking, and it made me decide not to do something like that again. I felt small afterwards. It was kind of a spiritual thing. I broke out into my solo, and I’m crying on stage, y’know? Next thing you know the song is done and nobody’s clapping. I’m looking out and there’s 250 parents, and it’s like, ‘I don’t even get a sympathy clap?’ I remember going up to the chorus teacher asking, ‘How did I do?’
“For so long that was in my head,” he continued. “I wouldn’t talk to people, I was closed off. Even to the point where, until I was 23, I’d have my mom on the phone to do the talking for any business associations.”
Through all the internal struggles, however, music was always in his life.
“We grew up with a lot of music in our home,” he said. “Working on the car, whatever, we’d just turn on the radio, and it all kind of played different parts in just growing up. I was always into soul music growing up.
“It’s nice,” he smiled. “You can turn on the stereo, and it’s just like the Bible. Everything just opens up.”
And eventually things did begin opening up for Enos. Like so many musicians with just the right mix of immense talent and inner demons, Enos’ salvation came through using the former to conquer the latter.
“The first song I wrote was actually on a chicken farm. I was trying to get sober, was there three days and all of a sudden came up with this song,” he said. “I just started putting paper to pen, and it just started coming out.
“My first real experience was down at the Blues on Grand at an open mic. I decided, ‘Why not?’ I don’t want to look back and regret,” he added.
From that beginning sprang Stutterin’ Jimmy and the Goosebumps. The band is a collection of some of central Iowa’s most seasoned musicians, including drummer Dirk Newton, bassist Beth Spaniel and guitarist Jacob County.
“It’s an honor playing with them,” Enos said. “They add so much — not just to the music, but just to the band. I mean, I’ve only been out there for a few years, and I’m still green. But these boys have been out here for 20-plus years. So they get to share that experience with me while at the same time saying, ‘Here you go; take lead.’ And that’s awesome.”
Stutterin’ Jimmy is the capital city’s version of the Great American Troubadour. His nakedly honest songwriting and plaintive vocals conjure up images of all the best parts of Tom Waits. And for Enos, the feeling of creation has left him stronger, more confident and feeling lucky.
“What a blessing,” he said. “I don’t deserve great things like this.” CV