James grew up in the small town of Renfrew Ontario just 45 mins west of the nations capital. From the beginning James was surrounded by country. Whether it was being played live at family members homes or at events that his parents took him too. Country music was everywhere. “I can still remember listening to an 8 track of Conway Twitty’s , Mr. T album in our Buick station wagon.”
As James grew into his teens he started being influenced by new genres of music through videos from Canada’s TV series Video Hits and music station MuchMusic. Being an avid skateboarder he was eventually introduced to punk music through California skate magazines, Thrasher and Transworld. Punk held the same dark story telling aspects of country. At the age of 16 his close friend, Aidan Trainor, convinced him to start playing the guitar. Soon after James began writing his own punk songs, which in turn led to forming his first punk band, Supplement.
“I never had the ambition to learn cover songs. Writing an original let me tell a story which in return gave back so much more.”
Throughout his late teens and twenties James continued to write songs that made up multiple LP’s for his two long lasting punk bands, Supplement and Layiterslayit. With the Layiterslayit disbanding in 2007, James took a few years off to write and focus on a new direction. By 2010, inspired by his early influences, James released his first solo acoustic album consisting of 16 tracks entitled “Stay for a While”.
“Should I have released that? Looking back no. I wasn’t ready. But it was an experiment and even if an experiment fails it helps you make the next one better.”
” …he tells rich timeless stories…Each new track offers a new tale of love, adventure, and loss…His story telling and use of guitar and harmonica instantly commands your attention, as he weaves from story to story.” -Doug Ralph CHUO 89.1 FM
James’ creative flow didn’t stop and by the end of 2011 James had another 14 songs ready to record. This time he wanted to step it up a notch and decided to add bass and percussion to the mix. His good friend and multi-talented ex-bandmate Michael Hunter joined to help add some extra instrumentation to the mix. In April of 2012 he recorded his second release, “Until It Passes By”, at Lil’ Chicago Studio’s in Smiths Falls with Tim Greencorn.
“’Until It Passes By’ was a huge growth for me as a songwriter. I started to find my sound and voice. I tried not to sing pretty and instead leaned back on the raspiness I had in my punk years. I’m still proud of what I achieved on that album over a weekend. It started to get me some attention.”
Enter stage left, the spirit of Steve Earle. The gravely voice, the porch-friendly beat—it makes you want to wheel the pickup out onto a hillbilly highway. -Peter Simpson, Ottawa Citizen- top 20 of 2012
During 2013 James had been practicing regularly with Hunter and also added good friend and former Supplement/Layiterslayit bassist, Christopher McLean, to the mix. James has been friends with McLean and Hunter since the early 90’s. The friendship and respect they have for each other makes being in a band together an enjoyable experience. His new backing band would from hereon in be know as The Cable 22’s.
By the beginning of 2014 James was realizing that his material was piling up. After performing opening night at RBC’s Ottawa Bluesfest 25yr anniversary (before Tegan and Sara, Blake Shelton etc.) and the grand opening of Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park he knew it was the time for another album. So on May 10th, he and The Cable 22’s, hit the studio with producer Matt Ouimet to record his 3rd album, “Of What is Left”.
“That album was a defining point for me. To me it nailed down the sound I was looking for as a singer/songwriter. The lyrics cut deeper, the stories were more varied, and I was confident in my singing and my sound.”
“…the album is a true marriage of genres, a hybrid with each style adding to the final results without compromising its fuel source.” -Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
“Of What is Left” gave James the fuel to ignite a bushfire of new material that by May of 2015 sent James and The Cable 22’s into Dave Draves’ Little Bullhorn Studios to record his 4th album, “These Weights”. James and The Cable 22’s released “These Weights” at Ottawa’s CityFolk Festival on Sept 17th where James’ 11yr old daughter Kennedy took the stage to preform fiddle on the track “I’ve Got Your Back” which he wrote for her and younger sister Estella.
“Having my daughter on stage with us was a moment I’ll never forget. Her confidence was unwavering.”
With two children and being a partner in a successful animation studio, James didn’t have the spare time to tour and support his albums properly. So after 4 albums in 4 years James decided to take a break from performing live. During that time he never stopped writing and by 2019 he had accumulated 26 new songs. On Dec. 30th, James and The Cable 22’s, drummer Michael Hunter and bassist Tristan Whitehead went into Bova Sounds Studios in Ottawa and started recording with Phil Bova. Knowing releasing an album and not being able to tour wouldn’t give his music the attention it needed James devised a new plan.
“…albums come out and are forgotten in a week. It takes a lot of work and time to build up to another one so I decided to stay relevant in this day and age that I would release 1 of the 26 songs every two weeks. That way I can have new material surfacing for the span of 13 months. During that time I can write more and tack on to the end.”
James is very excited with the new material which consists of duets, chants, solo songs and full band songs dipping in blues, folk, country and rock. Due to delays related Covid, the first single should start the chain reaction sometime during Fall 2020.