FROM FRIENDS TO THE BEER LEAGUE
A CHAT ABOUT MOVIES, TV AND SOUTHERN ROCK WITH
by Michael Buffalo Smith
New Jersey's Jimmy Palumbo may not be a name you recognize (yet), but his voice and face re very familiar. He has been featured in some of television's hottest shows, done stand up comedy and improv, and has a major role in the upcoming comedy, Artie Lange's Beer League. Oh, and one other thing. Palumbo is a die hard Southern Rock fan. GRITZ spoke to the future superstar by phone in between roles, auditions, and Allman Brothers concerts.
Jimmy, where were you born and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Colonia, New Jersey and went to Rutgers. I am 41 and I went to Rutgers here in Jersey. One of those Jersey boys.
How did you first break into acting Jimmy?
When I went to college and I was working in retail. A woman came in to buy a computer and I made her laugh and she was doing her thing in some kind of sketch comedy show, and she asked me to do it. I started there and got some head shots for about $60.00 at Photos By Larry. (laughs) My mom still thinks its the best headshots I ever got. Then I started going to New York and one thing led to another and next thing I was doing some pretty cool shows. An agent came to see the show and liked me and next thing you know I was off to the races.
Didn't you do some comedy too?
I didn't do stand up until about five years later and now I do stand up and have written some stuff. I consider myself an actor, and do a lot of voice work.
Just your voice or dialects?
I use my own voice. I am the voice of Mercedes Benz and Wendys and Washington Mutual Bank and some other stuff.
Looking at your resume you have done a lot of TV shows and I wanted to ask you if you had any favorites?
There are three actually. The Friends episode which was the season finale and that was in the 9th season. Everything was clicking on all cylinders and it was cool to be in all that excitement. It was a huge show. Then I did the ER season finale and that was cool too and a very professional set. It was another awesome thing to be a part of. I did Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO and I think that I really nailed what they wanted me to do. I got to do a full scene with Larry David and that was pretty cool.
Now I am on the lookout for some of your appearances on TV or DVD. I watched your episode of ER at the time and I probably saw you but just don't remember.
Well, I had about 10 lines, I wasn't a guest star or anything.Curb You Enthusiasm was a very good part.
You have done more TV than motion pictures but now with Beer League, it looks like a really good role.
Yeah, I got a nice role in that and I have been with the movie from the beginning. We did a short film called Game Day and that lead to Beer League and Artie Lange was kind enough to keep me along for the ride. We shot that last summer in Jersey and that is cool and I think it is a funny film.
Tell the readers about what the premise behind this film?
Yeah, its about guys in Jersey that are getting into their 30s now and are still drinking and partying on the day of the game like they are still 20 years old, and there is a rival team that still beats them but we go at them pretty good. There is drinking and softball and women and all the "INGs," drinking, partying, you know, and all the good clean fun.(laughs)
Definitely earning an R rating right?
Yeah, definitely an R. (laughs)
But that is cool and I can't wait to see the film. You were telling me something on e-mail that they are using Southern Rock on the soundtrack right?
Well, that is kind of weird and we did the short film and the guy that directed that was a big Southern rock fan and wanted Hatchet, Skynyrd, and Marshall Tucker and all of the classic stuff. Then I always make a joke that and if you played one night with the Allman Brothers then I will buy your solo album. I have all the Brothers albums and Hatchet, and Marshall Tucker albums, Skynyrd albums and the solo albums of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks and Dickey Betts, original stuff and Toy Caldwell and Dangerous Dan Toler's albums. I met him and he actually e-mailed me and talked about when he left Great Southern and was talking about all of that which was very cool. So I have been a huge Southern rock fan, and the director of Beer League, Frank Sabastiano is also a guitar player and we always had a connection there with Warren and Derek and guitarists like that.
Actually, when the Yankees lost game 7 of the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks it got us so distraught and the only thing that saved us was going to see Gregg Allman in concert in Anaheim and literally about five minutes after that game we walked about 100 yards and we were inside the Allman concert. Believe me this was the only antidote after the brutal loss. This helped ease the pain for a little bit. (laughs) When it came time for the movie we did the short film and pumped a lot of stuff in there but you cant get the rights for all the music because it costs thousands of dollars, so I looked for B-side stuff and I put together about 2 CDs of tunes and Frank listened to it. Then you had to figure what song went into to each scene and without going with too many B-sides we got a lot of stuff in there. I tried to make a difference having some of it in there.
One of the questions I wanted to ask was what a typical day like while filming a TV show or a movie one?
I will give you an example. Today, I had a voice audition at 10:00 AM and then another at 12:30 PM and then I go into an audition for Law and Order for a guest star role at 3:00 PM. Then I take the train back to Jersey from Manhattan. If it's a shoot then usually it's a 6:00 AM call so the night before you go over your lines and make sure you are prepared. They give you a trailer or a place to put your stuff down when you get there and you go into make-up and hair, and after about 1 - 2 hours you get in and do your first scene of the day. Acting in films or TV, the days can be about 12-13 hours long and you do a scene and each scene takes about 15 takes maybe and then they switch cameras around and after about 13-14 takes you are very familiar with the scene.
At least you are keeping busy right?(laughs)
Well, there are good days and bad days...(laughs)
I am really happy that you get so excited about this musical genre that I am so wrapped up in, you know, I am like you and have an ungodly amount of CDs .....Do you collect any live shows?
I am kind of weird with live shows, and I think the only band that I like to listen to live are Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker Band, not to slight the others, and the other bands are good live and I enjoy seeing them, but I think the Allman Brothers do some different things there, especially now, and I think the current band is great. I think that other bands should see the Allman Brothers to see what they are doing and they could appreciate how to get out there and put on a show for people in terms of guitar rock. Some of the things that Warren and Derek are doing onstage is something all bands could really appreciate.
Are the Allmans your favorite band?
Oh yeah, without a doubt and I did not see the original band, because I was too young but this current configuration of the band is awesome.
I agree and I love it. I went through a phase when Woody was still alive where they just boggled my mind with Woody, Warren, and Dickey and then Mule spun off of it.When did you first get hooked on Southern rock?
Being from Jersey and the tri-state area - it's really the Southern rock capital of the world, I don't care what anybody says. And there is a huge following for all the bands here. I have an older brother who introduced me to the Brothers and that led to the Outlaws which is probably my second favorite band. I flew back from LA to see their reunion in Jersey, and it was awesome.
Huey is always one of the best. I have a video of him in Asbury Park playing in 1975, jamming with Toy in Marshall Tucker and it was kicking.
I actually hated the fact that he was in Lynyrd Skynrd, nothing against them but I guess I am just a Southern rock purist. I am happy for him and made a nice paycheck for a few years, but he was an Outlaw, man.
In Skynyrd he is just a sideman and the same with Rickey Medlock because he was a kicking front man in Blackfoot and then he kind of turned into Skynyrd's hired gun too.
I have seen the new Skynyrd and I think they sounded like they lost some of their sound and if you just shove all of these guys together something gets lost. They each have such a distinct sound. Their playlist was awesome.
Knowing the Tucker guys, they have always said that area is like a second home up there. Can you tell me one of the best concerts that you went to?
I actually have three. The first would be a band called The Southern Cross Band consisting of Joe and Sonny Pruitt and you should review some of their music from 1975 to 1990. They are called The Mango Brothers now. They got some cool stuff. I remember being 18 and going into a bar and seeing them. They still play out and just jam out on the Jersey shore.
The next would be Molly Hatchet in Asbury Park with the original members in 1979 and being blown away.
The third show was one of the Beacon shows, maybe two years into the Beacon run and I was like wow, with Dickey and Warren and they were on. I also saw the Allman Brothers two years ago at the Santa Barbara Bowl and the concert started and it was still light out and I drove up there myself and I sat in the second row.The sun was shining on the band and there was a cool breeze blowing at the concert and it was just awesome feeling. That was real smooth. Being on the coast and just chillin.
What's coming up that you can tell us about?
Beer League opens September 15th and we go nationwide October 1st. That is the biggest thing and some stand up appearances in California and New York. I am in promotional mode for the movie and just having fun with it.