Despite his obscurity, Jimmie Rivers is one of the great western swing/bop guitarists. His legacy is miniscule, consisting of a disc's worth of live tracks with his group, the Cherokees, recorded between 1961-64, but these low-fidelity documents show a guitarist with a near-unparalleled ability to construct exciting, melodic solos in the vein of Charlie Christian. Born Jimmie Fewell in Hockerville, OK in 1926, Rivers was introduced to the fiddle by his father, switching to guitar before he was ten years old. The music of Bob Wills gave the youth his first influence, in particular the twin electric guitar arrangements of Leon McAuliffe and Eldon Shamblin. In high school, he also played trumpet before his family moved west to Oakland in the early ‘40s. Although Rivers' style had largely matured by the time he was a late teenager, it was in Oakland that he received his greatest musical instruction. Sitting in with a jazz combo one evening, he met a pianist named Don Burke, who introduced him to the music of the great electric guitar pioneer Charlie Christian. (Amazingly, although Rivers' guitar playing was already saturated with be-bop stylings, the youth had never heard of Christian; rather, he had absorbed the technique of Barney Kessel, himself a Christian fan.) After two years in the Navy, in 1946 Rivers moved to Corpus Christi, TX and formed a trio called the Gadabouts. His reputation as a guitarist was growing, bringing job offers from both Spade Cooley and Bob Wills. Rivers, however, declined, as by this time he was making more money on his own than either bandleader could promise. In 1954, he moved back to Oakland and took work as a DJ at KVSM. Before his first broadcast, he was re-christened "Jimmie Rivers" by a local man who expressed distaste for the name Fewell. (Rivers, who was half-Indian, had explained that his original family name was "Two Rivers.") Soon after, he formed a western swing group called the Cherokees, who began appearing on the California Hayride television show dressed in Indian headdresses. The Cherokees also cut some records for the Cavalier label and frequently backed Tommy Duncan on his solo recordings. In 1958, the group took up residence at the 23 Club in Brisbane, CA. That same year, Rivers hooked up with ex-Billy Jack Wills steel guitarist Vance Terry, and in 1959 Terry joined what would become the definitive Cherokees lineup. They played the 23 Club for six years, before Rivers disbanded the group in 1964. Aside from a long gig with the Fulton Street Jazz Band and a 1992 Rivers-Terry reunion concert, he remains retired from music. ~ Jim Smith, Rovi