Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Plant City band Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings still jumping to the blues

PLANT CITY — When Jeff Jackson describes his local band, Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings, as "a dream come true," he means it literally.

"About five years ago, I dreamed about a friend who had been in a Florida Bible College band with me in the mid 1970s," said Jackson, 58. "In this dream I asked if he wanted to be part of my band. The answer was a definite yes."

Later, when Jackson told the dream to PG Woods and Keith Kingsley Buckingham, the other two in a "garage" band they had started in the mid 1990s, they encouraged him to call Carlton Cunningham.

With the help of Facebook, Jackson discovered his band buddy had moved to Tampa and was definitely interested. Now Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings is going strong as one of Plant City's most popular homegrown bands.

"We're a combination of jump, swing, roots, blues and rockabilly," Jackson explained.

The term "jump blues" came in the years following World War II when big bands declined and smaller combo groups became popular. The common element in the sounds of these bands was danceability.

The Jump Kings are really an extension of an earlier incarnation. In the mid 1990s, Jackson and Woods, 50, had put together an acoustic trio, Buck Hummer and the Pick Ups. They had a good decade run.

Playing music has been an early passion for each member. Jackson, writer/composer, played in a Fort Lauderdale high school rock band, and he and Buckingham have performed in pop and circuit country bands.

Woods, a California native, toured the South with a college rock band that performed on MTV and SXSW II in Austin, Texas.

Cunningham, 60, has passed his love of music on to his sons, both musicians. Buckingham, 57, also has a son who is a musician.

Music is not the only common thread. They have families and day gigs that help them maintain a steady supply of picks, strings and drum stocks.

Jackson, who is a guitarist and vocalist and is a billing manager for Americare Ambulance of Tampa, has lived in Plant City for four decades with his wife, Barb. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Woods, string bass and vocalist, is a horticulture consultant and travels regionally for OLM Inc. out of Kennesaw, Ga. He and wife Shelly, a Plant City native, live in Bealesville and have a 10-year-old son.

Cunningham, the keyboard player, and wife, Anne, live in Tampa, where he is employed by Magnus Flaws, CPA.

Buckingham, drummer and vocalist, is a business executive and teacher. He and his wife, Becky, have raised two sons in Plant City.

"Each of us profess our faith and have played in our churches' praise and worship ministries," Woods said.

"The good stuff never gets old," said Jackson. "We are just local boys doing jump blues at any and all venues."

A CD recorded at Polysound Studios in Brandon is now available. The band members stress they are not an oldies act.

The new act includes medley songs that may jump several generations in one tune. They describe their music as gumbo cooking in one big pot from the Kitchen of American Music.

The group is well-known to attendees of the annual Plant City Pig Jam and the Plant City Garden Club's annual party.

On May 25 the band will perform a free concert for the Memorial Day Picnic at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

The band can be reached at [email protected]

Betty Briggs can be reached at [email protected]

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