This most musical of drummers came to the Contenders from a very different part of the country than the other four, Chicago. While growing up there he studied jazz drumming, played in rock bands and did some session work. Later he moved to rural Wisconsin where he started his own group, Sky Farmer, and it was there that the Contenders caught up with him and he was persuaded to make the move to Nashville.

Jimbeau had met and hung out with the Pritchard Avenue Band and Uncle Walt’s Band guys during an early-70’s visit and their instincts to recruit him proved to be correct. His musical approach to his instrument, background of rock and jazz rhythms and his ability to call up a taste of an island beat made him perfect for the Contenders. In fact, Jimbeau played with such sensitivity to the songs that in stage introductions Steve would often call him “the man who plays music on the drums”. But that wasn’t his only nickname; he was also at times introduced as “the backbone of the Contenders” or “the spiritual leader of the group” or even “our guru”. Whatever role he was called upon to fill, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of this beautifully flexible musician to the band.

After the breakup of the Contenders, Jimbeau continued to work in Nashville as a founding member of Dave Olney and the X-rays and of Steve Earle’s first group, Los Gringos. Heart trouble forced Jimbeau to retire from drumming in the early 80’s but that didn’t stop him from participating in the two Contenders reunions in 1992 and 2000. Nowadays he lives in Hawaii with his wife Terri and works on composing his own music in addition to holding down a day job with the phone company. Jimbeau Walsh became an ordained minister in 1989 and performs weddings on the beach near his home.

Jimbeau Tabard Walsh