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Jim Allchin "Overclocked"


Jim s contemporary blues-rock style has a uniquely modern feel with contemporary lyrics and explosive guitar lines, but it respectfully bows to the core soul that has been embodied in the blues throughout the ages. His newest album, Overclocked, is an ambitious, perfectly crafted 13-song set of original blistering blues, sophisticated jazz, heavy rock and tender pop ballads spotlighting his virtuoso guitar chops, creative lyrics and mellifluous vocals.

A recent quote about Overclocked:

The opening autobiographical title track, which is a computer term for deliberately modifying a computer to run faster than its original design to create screaming performance, but also resulting in overheating even to the point of melting down, is the perfect metaphor for Allchin and his need to cut loose. After a respectful and restrained intro that references past guitar boogie shuffles, he almost smokes the strings off his guitar in a shocking display of electric fretboard mayhem. Taking another direction, Willow Tree is a jazzy and satiny smooth swinging shuffle through which Allchin with his warm tenor voice relates a classic story of romantic treachery with the distinctly modern line, Now you think you can text and say ya love me (LOL) that is followed with the devastating putdown, Yeah, the willow may be weeping, but there s no tears left in me. As he does throughout the record, Allchin incorporates a variety of clean and dirty guitar tones in his various solos, including fat, slithery obbligato slide in the coda.

Back in the Swamp is a kicking, horn-powered shuffle blues with a lyric that wryly refers to his Florida roots as Allchin sings, Yeah, I m back in the swamp, those gators gonna get me. See, I cheated on that girl. Now I m up the creek. A rocket-ride of a guitar solo pumps the energy quotient even higher while the hooky, tuneful chorus of I m back in the swamp sticks in the ear and does not leave. Listening to the words, you have to wonder if he didn t write it to reference all the politicians and celebrities who seem to have fidelity problems. The hard blues-rocking Texas shuffle that drives Don t Tell Me What to Do affords Allchin the opportunity to settle an old score with an unnamed protagonist with lines like, I m steppin out, got a Richter 9 tude. People like you don t tell me what to do and, You think you re so cool. But one day you ll learn who s got the IQ that are a far cry from blues clichés like, My baby left me. His exceedingly aggressive solo that swings like an Olympic gymnast also cuts like a knife. Dynamically changing pace, the slow blues of One for the Money with the great guest vocalist Keely Whitney provides the lead guitarist ample room to exorcise his blues with a searing solo that contrasts with her beautifully modulated and expressive pipes. Allchin flaunts his expansive skills and wide musical interests on Fall, a moody instrumental ballad reminiscent of Rainy Night in Georgia that amply shows his mastery of the three Ts of tone, taste and technique, to which melody, drama and dynamics should be added. The exuberant shuffle of Dr. J does not refer to the former NBA star but to an elderly guitarist who relives past glories by sitting in with the band. Allchin, who may see the subject as his future alter ego, enters with howling slide guitar and sings with convincing empathy before twisting the neck of his axe into a pretzel with a knuckle-busting solo.

A visit to the classic R&B of yore with the ballad Mr. Unknown finds Allchin delivering his most soulful vocal in a tale about the desire to escape one s identity with, I don t trust anyone with just being me, their deceit comes too easily. So I ll just be Mr. Unknown, safe and all on my own. Flirt follows with a fist-pumping minor key rock anthem that calls out the barroom tease with no-holds-barred lyrics like I m getting ready to burst in the witching hour, but then you cross your legs and I know I m gonna get hurt as the power chords roar and Allchin soars vocally and instrumentally. Keely Whitney returns to duet with Allchin on the contemporary pop rock of Perfect Game, their harmony vocals blending magically on a story of heartbreak while the guitarist takes the song out in the coda with fluid, arcing lead lines that build to a fitting climax. - Dave Rubin - 2005 KBA Winner in Journalism

About Jim Allchin

Jim grew up in a one-room house on a dirt farm in the Deep South. After living the life of a starving musician, he left to earn Masters/Doctorate degrees from Stanford University and Georgia Institute of Technology. He went on to become a world recognized leader in Computer Science and software. Today he codes for fun and he plays guitar for love.

Early Years

This is the house I grew up in. It was in the middle of an orange grove in the middle of Florida — no town, just poor people, farm land, and phosphate mines. My father built the house — one day there was going to be a bigger one, but that never happened. This picture shows the house in its better day. There wasn’t enough space for doors inside the house so we just had sheetrock dividers (not painted because there was no money for that either) between the rooms. There was a heater right in the middle of the house — amazing that the whole thing didn’t burn down in the winter.

I worked the fields starting at an early age doing whatever needed to be done. Sometimes we missed school because we had to pick strawberries, okra, etc, or disc the grove. I looked like an ant driving the tractor I was so young. We had essentially nothing, but I had a fantastic childhood.

Lesson 1: Money doesn’t really matter for happiness.

Music Then

I started playing music in my early teens. My first instrument was the trumpet. I became fairly capable, but my teeth got loose and kept cutting my lips to the point of bleeding when I was squealing playing jazz. So, I saved up money for about a year and bought a guitar. Here’s me singing (on the right) at a studio when I was a teenager.

I grew up in the deep south. I learned to play by listening to old blues players and latin players or even new ones at the time (e.g., Allman Brothers, Santana). I travelled the south playing in bands and writing music — mostly blues rock. I met some amazing musicians. I played 16+ hours a day. And I learned a hard lesson in the music business: being good matters, but there are lots of great musicians — luck matters too.

I decided to go back to school for good after an extended stretch of only corn flakes without milk for 3 meals a day (food stamps run out each month!). But, I kept on playing. I played gigs now and again — just to keep my playing current. I even taught guitar at a college at nights for fun.


Neither of my parents were well-educated. But, they insisted we go to college — even though I didn’t have a clue what that was. My father died when I was young though so he never lived to see me complete college — something he would have been very proud of. While at college I dropped in and out to play music. Schooling came easy for me, especially mathematics, but I did as little school work as possible.

I didn’t appreciate schooling until much later in life at Stanford graduate school when I realized that in fact there were so many smart people in the world; I finally had to work in school. I fell in love with computer science (back then it was called an offshoot of Electrical Engineering). And I loved it, loved it, loved it.

And I fell in love with discrete math — in my undergraduate studies I had taken virtually every math course but most of it was continuous mathematics (and just how many partial differentiation equations can YOU memorize?). I especially loved recursive function theory and still today Rogers’ book Theory of Recursive Functions and Effective Computability is one of my favorite books. I ended up with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. My Ph.D. thesis was An Architecture for Reliable Decentralized Systems, ISBN B006YIFDY.

Lesson 2: The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.


I worked at a couple of companies as an engineer, started a few companies that did well, and helped start Banyan Systems, before finally joining Microsoft in 1990.

My core background is in networking, languages, and operating systems. I love programming. I especially love being close to hardware and even building hardware. I looked funny for an engineer in the early days, but luckily I met an amazing mentor in my early years (Dick Kiger) who looked beyond my wild hair and mocassin footwear and I programmed my fingers off.

Through the years I have written compilers (from system programming languages like C to old business languages like COBOL), operating systems, SMTP systems, file systems (for my Master’s thesis I built a rich, portable file system), distributed directory systems, and of course, tons of networking and distributed computing code for replication coherence, etc.

I love managing small teams, but I have also managed 20,000-person organizations covering a multitude of products and all the engineering, marketing, sales, and business functions. My last position was co-President of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft. My heart lies with small teams with a common vision and passion.

My biggest accomplishment at Microsoft was creating and growing the Server business which today is Microsoft’s fastest growing business and their third largest business. I left Microsoft in 2007.

Music Now

Since Microsoft I have been working on composing, playing, singing, and producing blues rock.

I don’t know why music brings up such passion, but it does — from sorrow to joy, from contemplation to determination — a rainbow of feelings. I love it. Whether music or software I believe in passion which leads me to lesson 3.

Lesson 3: Passion and persistence matter more than just about anything else.


Guitars: Fender Strat, Ibanez JS1200, PRS special, Taylor Acoustic

Amps: Line 6 Pod X3, Fractal Axe-fx, Fender Super Sonic, Dumble Overdrive Special

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