I took in a fine and fiery performance by Samuel James on Tuesday at a restaurant in Herndon. Here’s a video of James doing some “Walking blues”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq0cv5gOOVQ
James performed solo on a small-body acoustic guitar and a steel-body resonator guitar. His vocals are intense and scratchy with some real emotion. He plays spontaneous and imaginative craziness on guitar in a lot of different styels. I’m no blues geek, so I won’t go on trying to talk about Piedmont, delta, or whatever style, because I just don’t know that much. I hear a lot of analysis about blues music, and most of it is boring and meaningless to me. all I know is that I love everything I hear James play, whether live or on CD.
james seems to have a shy intellectual side to his music. he teased the audience with little starters like how blues music originally comes from Russia, or how the Great Depression in America stopped the development of acoustic blues music. But he didn’t go on and on, and someone could do a dissertation or a dozen of them on each of these topics. I’d love to pick his brain on some of this stuff sometime, but a show isn’t the time for a musician to sit there and talk.
James played a lot of traditional and well-known tunes, but he also played some of his originals. He says that he tries to write in a way that picks up where acoustic blues music stopped in the 1930s. I like the rocking music of his compositions, and his lyrics are entertaining and interesting. Hard to beat a song that has a good tune and a good story.
Music is about setting fire to a moment in time and enjoying the heat and smoke of it all, and James gets that. He’s a great performer, so check out his show next chance you get. buy his CDs and treat your ears.