Jim Bohn has been living in Grafton for most of his life; a husband to his wife, Mary Jo, father of three (Elizabeth, Joe, and Anna), and now grandfather of three. After working his way through school while helping to raise his family, Jim worked in corporate management for many years and, even in retirement, continues to find projects to dedicate his time and talents to; throughout it all, though, there has been music.
For Jim, playing guitar, singing, and performing began in his elementary school days, and never stopped -- from churches to nightclubs; in bands and as a solo artist. He has already recorded five CD's of music since 2000: his first with the Ozaukee County Jam Band, then a folk CD in 2002 called "Clear Blue Sky," a gospel/Christian Rock CD titled "Farther up the mountain" in 2004, "These Walls Tell a Story" and "Blues Cowboy Sampler" in 2006, and in 2007, a Christmas CD titled "What Child is This?"
While Jim was thrilled to record music with very talented family and friends, he longed to make some music with professionals -- people who play music for a living, and do nothing else. Finally, this past summer, he met with the guys who play rhythm section for Milwaukee native, Daryl Stuermer, who he had met at previous gigs, and discussed the project; they agreed to help and recording began. Now, the new CD, "Bound for Judah," is finished.
"All of the musicians on the CD are top-grade musicians in their class, and very well known in Milwaukee, and some throughout the US," Bohn said. "Kostia Efimov, who plays piano on the CD, is an internationally known musician from Russia. I have always wanted to do a CD with a full brass section, along with powerful backing vocals. The melodies in these songs have been around for many years, but it was time to put lyrics to the melodies and arrange the songs."
While recording the CD, itself, has fulfilled a lifelong dream, the title was inspired by a miraculous event in Jim's family. In 2008, Jim's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was thought to be benign but, shortly after the birth of her daughter a year later, a biopsy showed the tumor to be malignant, and the doctors gave Elizabeth just 3-5 years to live. Jim and Mary Jo moved to Minnesota to help care for Elizabeth and their granddaughter from 2011 to 2014 and, against all odds, the tumor shrunk. In May of 2015, six years after her diagnosis, Elizabeth delivered a healthy baby boy named Judah (Jim's first grandson), and the title of the CD came from the many trips to Minnesota Jim has made to visit the "miracle baby."
Jim's music reflects his life: songs of faith and encouragement, and reminiscent of the music he lived through and enjoys, such as the big horn sound of bands like Chicago in the 70's, the piano-focused music of Bruce Hornsby, country songs of heartbreak, and the uplifting sound of a gospel choir.
"Music always made sense to me, ever since I was a kid," Jim explained. "Music is a tough business, but it's a great way to express yourself."
There are two events coming up to celebrate the CD release: This Saturday, April 8th, Jim is doing an Unplugged CD Release Show at Smith Bros. Coffee House in Port Washington. Then, on Thursday, May 4th, Jim and the full band will host a special fundraising Release Party for Casa Guadalupe in West Bend at the Ozaukee County Pavilion in Cedarburg. Casa Guadalupe is a non-profit serving the large Hispanic population in Washington County. This past winter, the center was vandalized; the money raised from this event will go to repairs at the center.