Photographs

The home that housed Attic Studios in Dayton, Virginia. This is where Jim Shelley recorded all of his albums between 1989's BLOOM OR DIE and 1996's SPLENDID TRIGGER. (Photo by Jim Shelley.)

Jim Shelley at Alston's in Harrisonburg, Virginia, February 1, 2003. (Photo by Chad Nicol.)

Jim Shelley and his wife, Mary Lou, on the stage of the Ryman Theater in Nashville, Tennessee, circa 1996. (Photo by Gwen Jewell.)

From 2000 through 2003, this was the creative core of the Book of Kills line-up that, though certainly not the most musically adept, was undoubtedly the best-loved. This photo was taken while the band spent a day in Charlottesville, Virginia busking in the parks and on the sidewalks. From left to right: Casey Firkin, Jim Shelley, Jane Firkin. (Photo by Mike Simpson.)

This photo was taken right after the last true Book of Kills show, March 13, 2010, at the Little Grill. From left to right: Jim's brother George and his wife Linda, Jim's daughter-in-law Amy, Jim's younger son Christian, George Nipe III, Jim and his wife Mary Lou, and Jim's elder son Daniel. (Photo by Mike Hicks?)

I think this is from The Karl Rove's first show at the now defunct Better Than Television club in Charlottesville, Virginia. A sloppy but damn fine night of music. From left to right: Jim Shelley, Aaron Farrington, Johnny St. Ours. (Photo by Deanne Good.)

This photo was taken January of 2002, (at the Little Grill). The gig was advertised as the "last show ever" for Book of Kills. Jim had experienced a lot of emotional up's and down's at the time, losing his father, an aunt, two friends, and his dog all in the course of a few months "...and I didn't know what I wanted to do or whom I wanted to do it with. Two months later we were back to playing live." (Photographer unknown.)

Cool picture of George Nipe III's band, The Plague Dogs, during a September 15, 2007 gig at The Little Grill. Jim played bass, and occasional guitar, during my his month tenure in the group. From left to right: Mike Hicks, George Nipe III, Garfield Banks and Jim. (Photo by Deanne Good.)

The Karl Rove were the last band to play the "old" Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia, back on June 21, 2006. It was one of their better shows, if you ask me. They had a video loop of George W. Bush giving someone the finger projected on a screen behind us for the entire performance. From left to right: Jim Shelley, Johnny St. Ours, Aaron Farrington with drummer Billy Hunt obscured from view. (Photo by the C-ville Weekly.)

Strangely, perhaps the best the Book of Kills 2008-2010 line-up (featuring Mike Hicks on drums, George Nipe III on bass/vocals, David Tekippe on guitar and Jim, of course) ever played was at a Halloween show in 2009 in Luray, Virginia, during which for most of their set there were constant p.a. problems until the last three songs, which are available on various live compilations. Here Jim is talking to Casey Firkin while they try to work out the p.a. kinks. (Photo by Deanne Good.)

In the summer of 2013, not too long after Fear + Whiskey wound down, somehow former Book of Kills members Casey Firkin, Jane Firkin, George Nipe III and Shagwüf drummer Pablo Olivieri joined Jim in a three gig run of shows that were lots of fun and actually attracted some nice audiences for all three shows. Unfortunately, they all went their separate ways after the final performance at the Blue Nile in early 2014. Left to right: Casey, Jane, Pablo, George, and Jim. (Photo by Deanne Good.)

The original Fear + Whiskey line-up of Amy Bugg, Jim Shelley and Jeff Lown, shown here on a chilly day in April of 2011 at the Earth Day on the Green Way Festival in Luray, Virginia. (Photo by Denne Good.)

From the last Book of Kill shows (at least until the next last one) featuring the Mike Hicks, George Nipe III and Jim line-up, March 13, 2010, at Harrisonburg, Virginia's Little Grill. That's Billy Brett of Buck Gooter, Casey Firkin of Helgamite, and Jim. One of the best photographs of a BOK gig ever. (Photo by Amy Batman.)

This is the basement set-up I more or less used to record all of my material from 1997-2000. In 2000, I moved from an analog Tascam 488 MKII (which I still have) to a Tascam 788 digital 8 track. That gigantic P.A. on the left had a very quirky reverb/echo unit which I used to good effect many times, particularly on 1998's IF I SHOULD FALL (listen to "Lost Puppy Flyer" for a good example.) It started to poop out in 1999 and became useless by 2000. I also used it on a number of occasions for live BOK shows back when I invariably had to use my own P.A. system. (Photo by Jim Shelley.)

Book of Kills flier from mid-2000, the early days of the Jim Shelley/Casey Firkin/Jane Firkin-centric line-ups. Jim designed this one, appropriating an old PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE poster.

From some time in 2002, BOK plays live for whomever might want to listen one night in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. From left to right: Randy Simpson, Jane Firkin, Bill Bird, Casey Firkin, and Jim Shelley. (Photo by Katie Simpson?)

Jeff Lown and Amy Bugg listen to the playback of a track from the BONA FIDE sessions some time in April 2010 at Gary Bugg's house studio. (Photo by Jim Shelley.)

Lisa Van Fossen was certainly one of the most talented musicians to ever grace a Book of Kills line-up, though she only played three gigs before leaving the band. The line-up of Jim, Lisa, and Casey and Jane Firkin was quite an adventurous one. A highlight of each show would come when Lisa and Casey would join together for a great drum solo. From the December 9, 2000 show at the Little Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. (Video capture by Jim Shelley.)

While there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of photos of the 2000-2003 BOK, the 2005-2006 Karl Rove, the 2008-2010 BOK, and the 2010-2013 Fear + Whiskey line-ups, unfortunately, there are very few of the original 1994 BOK line-up featuring Dustin Bugg, George Finch, and Brian Temples and the 1997-98 BOK line-up featuring Dave and Brian Buracker and Brock Beatty in my possession, though I know that several folks who followed those bands took a number of photos and videos of us in concert and practice. This is one of a few black and white photos of a 1994 BOK gig at Charlottesville's famous TRAX, taken by friend of the group David Brandt. From left to right: Brian Temples, Jim, and Dustin Bugg.

Some photographs (though very few) somehow manage to capture just what a band is all about. This is one of them, in this case of Billy Hunt, the drummer for The Karl Rove, during a 2006 show at the Atomic Burrito in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Deanne Good.)

This is another one, also taken by Deanne Good (the best photographer of Book of Kills, hands down), of drummer Mike Hicks (red eye and all) of Book of Kills during a 2009 show at the Blue Nile in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

This bin of cassettes contains about 85-90% of every multi-track recording I made from 1983-1998, as well as some newer stuff from such albums as 2007's DIFFERENT. Most of those recordings were done on an 8 track TOA cassette machine or a Tascam PortaStudio. 

 

Starting some time in late 1999, I started recording on Tascam's digital 8 track, the 788. By 2005, I switched to recording digitally on an iMac, using a multi-track program called Cubase. In 2010, I switched to a MacBook Pro (I still have it) and started using GarageBand 6. In 2017, I purchased a new MacBook Pro and started using Apple's multi-track program called Logic, which I think is the best digital recording suite I've ever used.

 

The big plastic bin of musical history sits out in my garage now. 

One of the best photographs (at least in my opinion) ever taken of Book of Kills in action. From 2001, at the Main Street Bar & Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. From left to right: Bill Bird, Jim Shelley, and Jane Firkin. (Photograph by Andrew Neckowitz.)

Back in the "old days" (the late '80s to mid '90s) I sold Book of Kills music exclusively on cassettes. I created each insert by printing out the words and then cutting and pasting them, along with whatever graphics I had and then taking them to a local department store that had a self-serve color copy machine. The illustration here (for the front side of the insert for 1992's THE HAUNTED LIFE) was created exclusively for the album by Aaron Farrington, who, of course, later played bass in The Karl Rove.

This is a video capture of the recent George Nipe III, Garfield Banks and Jim version of Book of Kills practicing in George's basement in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The latest version of the band practices here as well. This basement also happens to be attached to Jim's childhood home.

Back in late 2013, Casey Firkin, Jane Firkin, George Nipe III, Pablo Olivieri and Jim joined forces for yet another version of Book of Kills and played three shows before going their separate ways after the third gig. Here's a cool photo of Casey and Jim practicing in George's garage in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in a house where George's parents now live. (Photograph by Deanne Good.)

I've always considered WASP 51!, if not the best album I've ever produced, one of the top two or three. I wrote and recorded it during the final days of the Casey Firkin, Jane Firkin, Randy Simpson, Bill Bird, Jim Shelley version of Book of Kills when the band was clearly falling apart after three great years of music-making. Originally, I wrote the entire record for that line-up in the hopes that learning a bunch of new songs would re-focus the band, but (obviously) didn't happen. Anyway, after I finished WASP 51! I created 50 unique collage covers and numbered and initialed them. They sold out in a week. Those were the days! This is BOK super-fan Gary Bugg's CD. He got number one! A couple months ago, he gave me his entire collection of Book of Kills memorabilia, including this CD.

Before the invention of homemade CDs, the only way an unknown musician could distribute his or her music was through cassettes. They were cheap and you could make cool inserts for them relatively easily. (Records were quite expensive to have manufactured and I couldn't sell enough of them to justify the expense, though I did release one vinyl single back in the late '90s.) From Gary Bugg's Book of Kills collection, here are fifteen early BOK Cassettes, including BLOOM OR DIE? which was the very first BOK release ever.

Another photo from BOK's little acoustic adventure in Charlottesville back in 2002 (I think). We just wandered around the city's famous "Corner" stopping to play wherever we fancied. Although I've never really enjoyed playing acoustic live, I'll admit that this was a fun day. Randy and I both bought our Martin's around about this time. (Photo by Katy Simpson or Mike Simpson.)

Some time in the spring of 1987, Jim Shelley performed live (for the first time in years) before a gigantic sold-out crowd at the Harrisonburg High School gymnasium in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The multi-band show, called Rock Nite, was part of a one day benefit for the local Citizens Against Sexual Assault charity. Jim's (unnamed) group, which included Todd Watson on bass and Michael Johnson on lead guitar, was a precursor to Book of Kills which would form, of course, six years later. Dusty Bugg's father, Gary, joined in on vocals on "I Saw Her Standing There". Dusty, of course, was the drummer in the original BOK.

Back in the '80s and '90s, Book of Kills music was distributed largely on cassettes. Locally (meaning Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I grew up) most BOK music was sold out of a single (fondly remembered but long defunct) store called Town & Campus Records. This little flyer spent spend several months in 1997 in the shop's big front picture window. Yeah...that's me.