Jim Shaw was country music legend Buck Owens’ longtime business manager, music engineer, and keyboard player for his band, the Buckaroos. Before participating in a discussion about what Bakersfield sounds like today, he talked in the Zócalo green room about his favorite thing about Bakersfield, the first album he ever bought, and hanging out with the likes of Ringo Starr and Garth Brooks.
How did you get into trouble as a kid?
I never got in trouble as a kid. That’s not me. I would’ve been better off getting into a little trouble I think. I’m very boring.
What’s the last thing that inspired you?
We had a young, up-and-coming country singer visit Buck Owens Productions on a radio tour last week. His name is Mo Pitney. And he was, out of the hundreds who come through there, so unique. He actually made me go home and write a song, which I hadn’t done in decades.
What’s your favorite thing about Bakersfield?
Everybody will probably say the same thing I would say—the people. There’s a very small-town feel, and yet we’re not small-town anymore.
Where would we find you at 9:00 on a typical Friday night?
Half the time I would be playing at the Crystal Palace with the Buckaroos or someone else. And every other night I’d be reading. My wife and I are non-television. We read.
What are you reading right now?
A very funny book—The Rosie Project [by Graeme Simsion].
What was the first album you bought?
I think it was Ray Price’s The Other Woman.
What are you keeping in your garage that you should have thrown out already?
My wife wants me to throw it out, but it’s my pride. I have a 1965 Triumph Bonneville. It’s a midlife crisis. It’s the same one I had when I was 19 years old.
Who’s the one person, living or dead, you’d most like to have a beer with?
I had so many neat experiences in my life. I got to hang out with Ringo Starr, Garth Brooks, and a lot of famous people. I don’t think it would be a celebrity. It would probably be somebody like Kurt Vonnegut.
What’s the coolest place you ever performed?
It happened so young in my career with Buck. Probably The Ed Sullivan Show.
How would you describe yourself in five words or less?
I’ll just make it one: dependable.