If you’ve heard Me and Jim playing at a bar or restaurant around the Lake, you probably thought they were just a couple of good old boys who got together over darts one night and starting crooning. But these two had quite different beginnings.
Before joining forces, they each were in a variety of bands. Frank Phelps (the “Me” in the duet) had been in 10 to 12 bands on the road in California, Canada and “all over the place,” he says, with a wink.
Over the years, in some fashion, they’ve played with notable musicians including: Barbara Mandrell, Chuck Berry, Barbara Fairchild, Mark Dinning of “Teen Angel” fame, and Richard Moore of The Troggs, known for the song “Wild Thing.” It was a wild time for Jim about seven years ago. “I was on the job and lost a finger,” he shares. “I didn’t know if I’d ever play again. Frank spent a lot of time with me after we met at a local jam session. I have him to thank that I can play again. He’s an excellent guitar player.”
Jim Biggs’ love of music started at a young age. He grew up watching his grandpa and uncle playing guitars. As a youngster, he recalls saying, “I’m going to play that someday.” And so he did. He taught himself to play guitar at about age 14 in St. Louis, and was in a band at 16 playing soft rock and blues. Frank’s love of music began at home in Fulton, Missouri, with his whole family playing guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle or keyboard. He recalls starting to play by ear by the age of seven. “I took band in school, but besides that I had no formal training,” he says.
The two play guitars and perhaps a mandolin during their three hour performances around the Lake. Sometimes Jim is known to bring several of his favorite guitars to the shows and switch them as they become “too hot to handle!” The pair mainly plays instrumental and soft rock of the ’60s and ’70s.
“But we also play country, blues and classic rock songs. Jim plays the lead and I play the rhythm,” Frank adds. Drawing from their decades of experience, their repertoire includes hundreds of songs, from “Sentimental Journey” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” to “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” for the kids. “We even take requests,” Jim pipes in. “If we’ve heard it, we will make an attempt.”
“We play our music at a conversational volume, so that folks can talk to each other over dinner and hear the waitress,” Frank says. Attempting and succeeding in providing dinner enjoyment is apparent, as they’re booked all the way through this Christmas season, as seen on their Facebook schedule. This is their sixth year sharing good music and good times together.
Having a handle on good music is what “Me and Jim” share with many around the Lake, as patrons pair a delicious dinner with their enjoyable entertainment for an evening worth reminiscing about and seeking out again.
Q. DO ANY OF YOUR FAMILY PLAY MUSIC WITH YOU?
Jim: No, my wife Laura and our girls Heidi, 8, and Allison, 11, aren’t showing interest quite yet.
Frank: My wife, Barbara, with our children, Aaron, Kimberly and Jessika don’t join in, but maybe my grandkids might!
Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE SONGS?
Jim: My favorite bands are Bread, Santana and America. But I really like all kinds of music and songs.
Frank: I like it all!
Q. WHERE DO YOU PERFORM?
Both: At various restaurants in Osage Beach and Lake Ozark, Missouri, and at an occasional wedding. We always play once a month at the nutrition centers in Versailles and Laurie.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Frank: Enjoy retirement from my retail businesses. My wife and I have this new venture, called Adventure Treasure Hunt, we’re excited about starting this summer.
Jim: Enjoy being with my wife and kids and being involved in their activities. I’m looking forward to playing for at least 10 more years.
Both: We plan to keep playing music and having fun together. •