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Music Notes for Nov. 05. 2009

Nashville November… Fred James

By Mary-Ann Brandon

    In late 1968 a geologist and his wife bought a ranchette just outside of La Veta, Colorado, to serve as a place to bring their family during the summer.  For their oldest son this was a nightmare that came squarely to life.  As a teenager in a popular band around Wichita, Kansas the move meant little more than oppressive boredom and isolation.

    This teenager would  go on to become a force to be reckoned with in the Nashville music community.  Fred James has become synonymous with Blues and Roots music within business circles by recording as an artist, producing more than 100 records for other artists and writing more than 200 songs that have been recorded by others.

    Today he now owns the ranchette that was the cause of so much teen angst and the boredom has been replaced by a sense of serenity and gratitude for the peace and quiet.

    When a young Fred James arrived in Nashville in 1973, he first set out to get work as a back up guitarist.  This came quickly and easily for the talented guitar slinger and over the years he wound up working with a who’s who in the Roots music world.  Some of these artists include : Bo Didley, Billy Joe Shaver, Sam Lay, Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Copeland, Dr. Hook, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Billy C. Farlow, The Memphis Horns Band, Vern Gosdin, Tommy Tutone, Homesick James, The Jelly Roll Kings and many, many others.

    As a producer he has won a Nashville Music Award for producing the “Best Contemporary Blues Album”.  Subsequently he was nominated amongst the industry’s finest producers for the coveted “Producer Of The Year” award.  Through this work as a record producer he managed to revive the careers of many Blues and Soul pioneers who had been long forgotten and left to wither on the vine.  He has acquired several defunct R&B record labels and works to re-license this historic material.  He is a man on a mission with a drive and work ethic to match.

    It is perhaps as a songwriter that Fred shines the brightest.  He has had five songs that have appeared on Grammy Nominated records.  His songs have been recorded by so many people that to list them here would be impossible.  If Nashville has a “go to” man for Blues music it would be James.

    He continues to record on his own and has a new record coming out on Italy’s Appaloosa Records with his band “Freddie and The Screamers”.  He tours with the southern Blues/Rock band “The Beat Daddys” and continues to write, record and run his production company.

    On December, 5th Fred will accompany Tommy Tutone at the Fox Theatre in Walsenburg for a fundraiser to benefit the restoration of this important landmark.  This will be a show not to miss, a rare opportunity to see and hear a treasure shared by Nashville and Huerfano County.

    For more information regarding Fred, visit his website at:

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