Boone, who performed in country, rock and roll, and jazz bands in his teens and 20s, gave up performing when he moved to Atlanta in 1966 with his new wife and two young children.
“[My band] started having me travel all over the whole Southeast and I thought that’s just no way to raise a family,” he said. “So I did what I said I’d never do — I became an insurance salesman. I quit music.”
While attending a jazz festival in Destin, Fla., in 2009, Boone decided to try his hand at the sax again. He brushed up on his skills and tried booking jobs performing at local venues.
“That’s a tough thing to do in Atlanta … because there’s so many guys out here that are really good and been here a long time,” he said.
After a few bad gigs, he told the manager at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen that he would perform for free, giving the restaurant and himself the opportunity to see if the gig would be a good fit. It was a success, and Boone has been playing Saturday nights at the Alpharetta restaurant for the last two years.
“I’ve got really quite a following there,” he said, adding it is one of the best gigs in the area.
He said he enjoys the festive atmosphere and likes to “read his crowd” when selecting the songs to play.
Boone, whose wife Ethel tagged him with the stage name Boone “J,” describes his sound as smooth jazz with a funky style and a blues influence. He mostly plays tenor sax — sometimes alto — and he also sings.
Boone performs with background tracks to give him the sound of having a huge band accompanying him. Today’s technology is the biggest difference between performing now and in his earlier days, he said. Boone considers himself blessed to be able to pick up his great interest of performing on the saxophone after all that time.
“I’m very humbled by it,” he said. “I know I’ve probably got a long way to go to get better but people seem to like what I do.”
His wife is his biggest supporter.
“She never told me I had to quit music back in the ‘60s, because she knew I loved it,” he said. “When I got ready to start back, she encouraged me,” Boone said.
Hear and purchase Boone’s music at www.reverbnation.com/jimboone.