Every now and then you unexpectedly run across a performer who bowls you over with his technical prowess and onstage charisma, leaving you wondering: How come I've never heard of this cat before?
Such is the case with Jimi Mamou (who has, also, performed as Jimmy Mamou). When I visited Zihuatanejo, Mexico in November 2004, there just happened to be a blues club called Blue Mamou (now defunct?) about a three minute walk from my hotel. It was there that I happened upon Jimi Mamou entertaining. Enthusiastic, energetic and playful, he was a natural at singing and playing guitar and keyboards.
Researching Mamou's life on the Internet, I've discovered that he's jammed with scores of folks, including Big Mama Thornton in Russell City, California (check out the photo of the two together). Besides releasing a single on Capitol Records ("Funky Love"), he's also put out a religious record ("'I Am' He Said"), preaching at one time along with Billy Graham...although his set at Blue Mamou seemed as secular as they come. I'm not the only blogger this has puzzled: check this out. Perhaps you can find a copy of one of Mamou's records on eBay, where they're sometimes listed.
I wonder where he is today...Zihuatanejo? Back in Paris? Is he on a religious crusade? Or is Jimi Mamou spreading more of his "Funky Love"?
Whatever the case may be, keep on jammin', Jimi!
[UPDATE: I recently came across the track "Funky Love" within the archives of Downtown Soulville, a radio show on the great New Jersey station WFMU. The cut sounds like whacked-out James Brown-esque funk; although I like the song, I wish that Mamou had laid down some of his killer lead guitar work on it. ]
[Editor's note, 02/23/10: It seems that the link to Jimmy Mamou's bio has been taken down on Billy Graham's actual web site. I've now gone ahead and linked to the very same page, as it previously appeared on Graham's web site, using the February 2, 2007 link on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.]
Here's a subsequent blog of mine about Jimi Mamou.