Members of the music community share their stories about the late supporter of the scene.
[Updated] On January 14, we learned of the untimely death of Jimmy Glickman of New Orleans Music Exchange at age 52. The outpouring of love from the music community for him and his generosity was a powerful testimonial to his importance in the city, and it was uncomfortably ironic that there was a memorial parade for David Bowie that choked the French Quarter on the weekend that there was a much quieter memorial service for Glickman Uptown at Touro Synagogue on Sunday (where in Glickman fashion, well-wishers were asked make contributions to Tipitina’s Foundation in lieu of flowers). Commenters to various Bowie conversations on social media wondered when Glickman would get his procession.
Since one isn’t coming, My Spilt Milk asked people to share their remembrances of Glickman. The thing that struck me reading these in addition to the uniformity of people’s recollections of his support for musicians was that he supported all musicians. He didn’t only cut deals for New Orleans’ best-known artists; he helped everybody out—established artists and those trying to get started. As writer Michael Tisserand tweeted, “New Orleans is where a guy who runs a corner music store is recognized as a cultural hero.”
New Orleans Music Exchange was very magical place and James Steven Glickman was the lead magician. Some years back, Air France lost two of my guitars on a flight home from Europe, mainly because a not-so-nice stewardess made me check them at the gate. They were in a case designed to carry two guitars. The stewardess took them from me and gave me a badly torn claim ticket. At the time, I didn't notice the condition of the ticket. When we arrived stateside, I discovered the torn ticket was useless. I ended up coming home without my instruments.
A few month's later I get a call from Jimmy: "Mem—your guitars are on the way. They'll be at the store this afternoon"! I said, How?! He said the claims people found "New Orleans Music Exchange" bumper stickers in the case pocket and called the store, described the guitars and the case to Jimmy, and he knew they were mine! Yeah, I got ’em back!
Elzy and I were lamenting the loss of Jimmy the other day. He touched us all in more matter-of-fact ways than Bowie did, but both were important to our musical upbringing in New Orleans.
I met Jimmy when he first moved to town. He worked at Uptown Music and quickly made a name for himself by treating us right, making deals on strings and sticks (the only reason we went there). He also pulled extra work by working in the kitchen at Le Bon Temps Roulez. One Sunday, back when you couldn't get a po-boy on a Sunday, I walked in to find them open. I ordered a roast beef po-boy and Jimmy made me one. I take a bite and I'm wondering what's up with this po-boy? I pull the bread apart to reveal that he'd put ketchup on it. I tell you this story because he was still so new to the city that he didn't know that. Obviously, he became the uberOrleanian that we know and love today, but I remember him as a hard working guy with a great love of this city and the music. He used to call me “L.C. Greenwood—Pittsburgh Steelers" when I went into NOME to get amazing deals. I bought a drum set and full cymbal set from him for far less than I'd have paid elsewhere. I loved that guy like a brother!
Not only was Jimmy a fine human being, he had a great sense of humor. Once I was driving by the Music Exchange while Jimmy was hanging out front. Before I could roll the window down and say hi, he yelled, “Hey Robert, I talked to your parole officer. He says you're gonna be okay.”
I went to Jimmy at the Exchange on the recommendation of Leslie Cooper. He didn't know me from Sheldon Cooper, but donated a $200 gift certificate to St. Anna's after-school program for at-risk boys and girls who were learning music. He became my instant hero. After that, I went to Jimmy's whenever I needed something (mostly harps).
I am very sad today because New Orleans has lost a true gem of its music scene—Jimmy Glickman, owner at New Orleans Music Exchange.
Jimmy was also my neighbor. I used to live around the corner two doors down and would pop in all the time (nearly every day after work) to check out the new arrivals in his selection of amps and guitars. This man also did untold amounts of incredible work after Hurricane Katrina, getting the city's school bands, brass bands and churches up and running again, with instruments and equipment.
His store repaired my Fender Twin, sold me a sweet Music Man amp, a Fostex VF-something digital recorder. "Nashville" strings for my acoustic. Practice amp, mic stands. He talked me through how to install strap locks on my Les Paul. I could go on and on. He and his wife were always endlessly supportive for musicians of every caliber and type and calling.
I once was in the store, and overheard him on the phone, doing a major deal for an upcoming Instruments A-Comin’ charity bash, arranging the instruments to be donated and where they were going. It was an amazing conversation, to hear him actually work. His generosity to the city and his work ethic for his store were both inspiring to me.
Even though in recent years I didn't really need anything from him except picks and strings and my visits were less frequent, he always greeted me with a familiar, “How you been, bud?" and always treated me like I still lived around the corner and had just stepped away for a few minutes. I will miss him greatly. He was a fixture out on the street on Magazine and Louisiana with his coffee cup.
Mark St. James
Jimmy Glickman was the nicest, most likable guy you could ever hope to do business with. When he opened the N.O. Music Exchange in the early ‘90s, I started shopping there shortly after he opened his doors and he never let me forget it. More recently after I hadn't seen him in probably 10 years, I walked in and he said, 'Hey Marky Baby—one of my first customers!' and proceeded to continue giving me the sweetest deals and treating me like a king as if I'd seen him only yesterday. But from what I hear, he treated most everybody like that.
What a salesman of the best kind and classic New Orleans character, forever surrounded in the glorious clutter of his funky independent music store. Stuff on top of stuff up to the ceiling and often barely enough room to squeeze through, but he always knew exactly where everything was. We need more people like him not less. I hope New Orleans musicians will rally around his family and his business and show support at this time. It won't be the same, but I hope the Music Exchange lives on. Jimmy deserves a lasting legacy in this city.
I'm not a musician, but my husband owns a bar/music venue. Over the years, Jimmy was a fixture in this industry. I never had any professional dealings with him myself, but so many times I encountered Jimmy when along for the ride with my husband, for amps or mikes or what have you. Always a nice person, always kind and concerned, a businessman with a pure, human heart. Kind of a saint, really. I hope in this world there are more Jimmy Glickmans.
Angela O’Neill Harbold
My Jimmy Glickman story: It was that first Christmas after Katrina and I had no transportation. DC's car had gone underwater, and the truck he was borrowing had gone back to its owner. I wanted to do some Christmas shopping for DC, and decided the things he'd probably most appreciate would be music equipment. I walked down to the Magazine bus from LaSalle Street and headed to the New Orleans Music Exchange.
I'd never met Jimmy before. I walked in and immediately encountered Dustin Crops. As we were chatting, Jimmy comes over, introduces himself, and joins in our conversation. Dustin told him that I was DC Harbold's girlfriend and that I'm on the search for Christmas presents for him. We chat for a bit more, I give them my budget, and Jimmy and Dustin proceed to help me pick out a bunch of really cool things for DC. As I'm checking out, Jimmy tells Dustin to give me the "musicians’ discount,” which totally made my night.
I say good night, take my packages, and head to the bus stop. It's bitter cold, it had started to rain, and I've got my hands full of packages. Totally not looking forward to the 20 minute bus ride to Jefferson, then the long walk from Magazine Street to LaSalle Street. Jimmy comes out of the shop, headed home. He sees me shivering at the bus stop, comes over and asks me where I live. When I tell him, he takes the packages out of my hands and says, "C'mon, I'll give you a ride home". Of course I keep asking him if he's sure, and he tells me it's no trouble at all. I get in his car, give him directions, and he regales me with funny stories about his family the whole ride home. He didn't even know me, but I arrived home feeling like we were the best of friends. What a sweet fucking guy!
I worked for Jimmy at the store from 2008 to 2011. It was a high functioning mess. Jimmy could usually remember both the retail price and the price he paid for any of the thousand items he had in the store at any one time. He was the best salesman I've ever met. Jimmy taught me how to negotiate when buying, how to save instead of spend. I tried many times to convince him of the advantages of modern computing and inventory software, but eventually realized he could sell more than anyone with just a pad of paper and a pen.
Jimmy had a good heart. He often loaned, gave away, or heavily discounted gear if someone needed it. And he often had work for those who needed work, even if the store didn't really need it. He always was on the look out for musicians, and on more than one occasion helped apprehend musical instrument thieves. He had the oddest sense of humor, and used it to diffuse situations, to get a smile, and sometimes just to throw people off for fun.
He was a good boss, and a good person, and he worked harder than most people I know. He'll be missed by many. However his music store legacy lives on with Webb's Bywater music, and with Slidell Music, whose owners worked for or with Jimmy.
Jimmy Glickman—internationally known by the best in the music biz—was one of those elves who quietly and humbly kept musicians and music in New Orleans resourced. He is/was New Orleans most underrated cultural hero who was always there for those deserving with a good joke and a smile.
I will miss him and all the conversations we never had for the remaining days of my life.
I hope he is resting peacefully now.
Updated April 13, 2016, 10:40 p.m.
The story has been updated to include comments from Mem Shannon.