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Story Behind the Song: Sunny Jim, “Rum Shoes”

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James “Sunny Jim” White is a Trop Rock singer/songwriter creating original songs for over 20 plus years and consistently receives awards every year from the Trop Rock Music Association for his song writing, best song, entertainer of the year, best cd and/or male vocalist. In his early days, working on an island as a steel pan player around the Hyatt resort pool in Grand Cayman gave him time to write and explore living the island life.

Sunny Jim’s mind works in strange ways to bring us his vast style of tropical music and fun conga dance songs. His song writing is exceptionally clever and often comes from a mix of interesting experiences, such as finding words scrawled into cement while out jogging. Here’s Sunny Jim’s “Rum Shoes” Story Behind the Song:

Sunny Jim


Whenever I hear a good line or get a good idea for a song, I write them down. And when I am in a writing mode, I go back and revisit those ideas. I have hundreds of those files on my computer that are like doing crossword puzzles: I work on them until I get stuck, then move on to the next idea and whittle away at that one. One of the things that I always joke about is the wacky ideas some people think would be a good song. Most are horrible, but every once in a while something kind of clicks.

About ten years ago, a friend and fan from New York State told me “You should write a song about rum shoes”.. It’s an idea that got written down and filed away, but I honestly had no idea what it could mean. Seven or eight years went by, and I kept seeing that little note in my computer until one day I saw it with new eyes as I was writing songs for my last album.

I know how much people, Parrot Heads in particular, like to party, and sometimes it worries me to see that. But I also see how well people look after each other and know how important it is to not be drinking and driving, and when I was thinking of that, the Rum Shoes idea popped up on my mental radar, and I started writing from the perspective of leaving your car at home and just walking to the neighborhood bar.

Another idea had crossed my path from some friends who have three bars in their neighborhood, and called their local version of bar hopping being out in the “Bar-Muda Triangle.” That thought just made me laugh, and it seemed a good fit for the Rum Shoes “walking to my bar” idea, and the whole thing kind of came together.

Sunny Jim Rum Shoes

Now I’ve played that song all over the country, and people seem to like it and like echoing the “Rum Shoes” line when I’m singing it, and it’s just become a really fun song to do. This summer, while touring with Mark Mulligan, we performed at the historic Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The guy in charge of hiring the music there, Arty Smith, loved the Rum Shoes song and invited me to come back the next night and have a walk on performance in a Western Melodrama play called “Yonder Mountain,” sing a couple of songs.

He was adamant about me doing Rum Shoes, so I sang it to a two step beat, much like my Sandbar Serenade song, and the crowd went nuts with the singing along. That song has been fun to do everywhere, but that performance in my first “acting role” (I was cowboy singer “South Texas Slim” in the play!) was really something special. I guess I’ll keep my rum shoes on….
— James “Sunny Jim” White

I live close to A1A and love this stretch of road that leads me to so many adventures! I'm perfectly situated between my two wonderful children. I love to visit my daughter in the FL panhandle and my son in Key West. I'm a Parrot Head and I love Trop Rock music!

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