Interviews JimDonnelly1**

Published on August 19th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with Plow Ground Drummer Jim Donnelly

Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, in-demand drummer and studio engineer Jim Donnelly (of Plow Ground) takes a stab.

1. What is your favorite local hang? 

“My favorite place is the Pour House on James Island. Not only do I play there every Tuesday, but I consider the owner and and the staff to be my friends, first off, but also folks who are genuine individuals who care about music and the atmosphere for the musicians. I’m also a fan of the Pour House because of the idea that you can see so many different acts and variations thereof and a willingness of fellow musicians to work together.”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

“It’s one of those days when the stars align and the band is on time — and that means shows up on time, in a good mood — and sound check is painless and people are there to feed you all the energy you need to play your best. Mistakes are not mistakes. Hell, there are no mistakes; it’s just plain energy, which equals by definition… an excellent gig!”

3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

“That is a tough question and maybe one I should not be as candid about, so let’s look at ‘the bright side of life’ — the positive. I would have to say, and this is not a cop-out, that I’m always inspired when I see a show, good or bad, but it’s the energy of those on stage that makes it for me. Whether young and inexperienced or old pros, the ability to function as one, and draw so much energy, and return it right back is always amazing to me.”

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

“A ‘crescent wrench’ — oh, oh, was that ten words exactly?”

5. Whats your theme song?

“That would be… drum roll please … ‘It’s a Long Way To the Top If You Want to Rock and Roll’ by AC/DC. Because it’s true! Start young.”


Plow Ground (provided)

6. Gear-wise, what is your irreplaceable baby?

“Probably the Presonus Studio Live board [a digital mixing board] in my studio. I love that board! Working with people in the studio is a joy to me.”

7. Whats the most overplayed album in your collection?

“Hands down, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti by far. I feel like it’s Bonzo’s [John Bonham’s] swan song, no pun intended, as well as Led Zeppelin’s. It is truly a great album.”

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star struck?

“I would have to say, when I saw Stochello Rosenberg at the Gypsy Jazz Fest at the Lincoln Center in New York this year. It was the closest thing to a ‘real’ gypsy player that I have ever seen. Class act. Brought tears to my eyes. Robert Plant at the Performing Arts Center had much of the same affect in a Zeppelin fan kind of way.”

9. Whats your poison?

“For what its’s worth: Jude the Apostle. If you don’t know, look it up. Followed by Miller High Life, the ‘Champagne of Beers,’ not to be replaced by but accompanied with Jameson Irish Whiskey.”

10. In ten years I will be…

“More than likely far more gray and hopefully wiser and still making people happy with music — whether it be live or working as an engineer or a  producer or both.”

Jim Donnelly has been tapping the skins with a variety of rock, jazz, blues, and Americana bands in the Lowcountry, including the eclectic combo Dunzip, Americana trio Dangermuffin, James Justin & Co., and Sarah Cole and the Hawkes.

Donnelly’s latest musical project Plow Ground features jazzy/bluesy guitarist Jesse Prichard (also of Dunzip and the Hawkes). The band name references Donnelly’s Johns Island-based recording facility. Plow Ground’s lineup features vocalist Amanda Ansel. Local harmonica player Mark Davis (a top staffer at the Pour House) and guitarists John Kennedy and Jeff Houts regularly join in, too.

Plow Ground specializes in a mix of Southern blues, classic rock, swing, rockabilly, and Gypsy music with a touch of reggae and Latin as well.

Plow Ground performs every Monday night at the Drop-In Deli on Folly Beach and every Tuesday evening through the summer at the deck stage at the Pour House.

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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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