I was just sitting down with a cup of coffee and the California Bluegrass Association’s July newsletter when I saw the article about James Reams & The Barnstormers! I remembered giving the interview to Dave Berry shortly after our new album, Rhyme & Season, hit the streets…but honestly, I had forgotten all about it! What a nice surprise (and great article too!). I thought I’d post it here in case any of you are interested in checking it out.
The Good Ole Coffeehouse at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn was packed this past weekend as we rolled out our new album, Rhyme & Season. It was a great time for all of us and wonderful to hear stories about seeing the band in the early years and even about catching one of my solo performances before there even was a band! The night was filled with lots of laughter and joy as we celebrated the CD release with food, friends, fun, and – of course! – fantastic music. Musician friends who played with the Barnstormers in the past and promoters all agreed there’s something special about this longtime band of friends and I couldn’t agree more! Thanks to everyone who came out to help us celebrate!
Releasing a concept album unleashes a whole lot of questions from listeners…and that’s a good thing! Many of you have wanted to know why I chose the songs that appeared on my new album “Rhyme & Season.” Others, mostly reviewers, wanted to know why I called the album “Rhyme & Season.” And lately I’ve been getting more questions about the homeless and how you can get involved. THAT’S music to my ears!!
I’ve sent out six announcements that delve into the reasons for each song choice as well as the reason for the album. In case you missed any of them, I’ve posted them on the website under Recordings>Rhyme & Season>Behind the Songs. You’ll also find the lyrics and the names of bandmates that were featured on each song.
I love receiving your comments and hope that you’ll let me know how this collection of songs moved you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I admit, I was holding my breath while waiting to hear what the critics thought about my new album, Rhyme & Season. Putting out an album is like cooking up an 11 or 12 course feast and hoping that folks like what you have done. The wait can be terrifying and sometimes the comments can be brutal. Thank goodness everyone really seems to like Rhyme & Season! I thought you might like to glance through some comments that have been received so far.
- “James Reams’ bluegrass may not be everyone’s, but there is little chance of it being labeled generic: rough around the edges, solid to the soul! Bluegrass concept albums remain rare, and on this wide-ranging collection of singular songs, Reams and his Barnstormers have crafted an intense and sympathetic portrait of turbulent times. Reflecting the forgotten, disenfranchised, discarded, and troubled, ‘Rhyme & Season’ is a mighty powerful return to the recording studio for one of bluegrass music’s most independent and evocative visionaries.” – Donald Teplyske, Reviewer for Country Standard Time
- “James Reams has walked the walk of those who have been cast aside. Now, in Rhyme & Season, he talks the talk. Actually, he sings it…with conviction. There is an authentic, gritty feel to the music that can’t be faked. This fine record will become an important part of the dialog about those who are down and out, left behind and marginalized.” – David Morris award winning songwriter and journalist, Reviewer for Bluegrass Today
- “Rhyme & Season had me mesmerized the entire time it was playing. It amazes me how [James] can continually raise the bar with each project. The lyrics of each song fit him like a glove and the instrumental [portion] of the project was superb.” – Al Shusterman, KCBL Radio, “Backroads Bluegrass” program host
- “James Reams has seen his share of tough times and they’ve clearly shaped who he is both musically and spiritually. This collection of tunes not only tells a beautiful story, but is beautiful to listen to. James’ unique voice and killer band carries you blissfully throughout the journey, a journey that James has chosen to use as a way to bring awareness to, and benefit the less fortunate. Good on you, James!” – Tony Kamel, Wood & Wire
- “James Reams’ new album [Rhyme & Season] is loaded with some of the best contemporary/traditional bluegrass music you’re likely to hear this year or any year.” – Mitch Finley, Music Reviewer for Inland Northwest Bluegrass Music Association
- “[Rhyme & Season’s] first song sucked me right in…I love the rockabilly sound of ‘Born to Roll.’ Your albums always tell a great story – that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about your music.” – Barb Heller, Program Host for NCPR Radio
When those boxes were unloaded from the UPS truck, I just couldn’t help getting excited. I was like a kid at Christmas opening them up and getting my first look at the completed CD that I’ve been working on for over a year. First thing I did was unwrap one and put it on to play. Making an album has a lot of magical moments, but none can compare to the first time you hear the finished product. I’m just pleased as punch and hope you are too!
Rhyme & Season will be available for online purchase on March 29th. Here’s what a couple of the early reviewers had to say:
“James Reams’ bluegrass may not be everyone’s, but there is little chance of it being labeled generic: it’s rough around the edges, solid to the soul! Bluegrass concept albums remain rare, and on this wide-ranging collection of singular songs, Reams and his Barnstormers have crafted an intense and sympathetic portrait of turbulent times. Reflecting the forgotten, disenfranchised, discarded, and troubled, “Rhyme & Season” is a mighty powerful return to the recording studio for one of bluegrass music’s most independent and evocative visionaries.” – Donald Teplyske, Country Standard Time
“Listening to James Reams’ “Rhyme & Season” is as comfortable as returning home after being away. But that sentiment belies the more serious and sincere undercurrent running throughout the album. The album definitely has the James Reams ‘stamp!’ this album is a credit to his existence.” – Brian McNeal, Prescription Bluegrass
While I was at the 2015 World of Bluegrass I ran into the energetic and engaging host of “I Had to Ask” a podcast that covers a multitude of topics but when it comes to music…it’s all about bluegrass. Lillian Freeman is just 13 years old and yet the questions she poses are the most insightful that I’ve ever been asked. She had me bareing my soul in no time! We talked quite a bit about the impetus behind my new album, Rhyme & Season, which will be coming out in March and how childhood/young adult experiences shaped this concept album. I was delighted to speak with her and hope you enjoy the conversation as well. Here’s the link: Episode 38: Interview with James Reams.
Wow! We’re barely into the new year and I’m already overwhelmed by all the great happenings coming up just in the first quarter! We’ll be laying down the final tracks for the new album in February and shooting for a street date in late March. Also, I just got word that I’ve been accepted into the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass Class of 2016…what an honor!
AND, to top off this first quarter of the new year, I’ll be having a BIG birthday celebration on January 10th. No, I’m not telling you just how big, but believe me when I say it’s a big one! So in honor of all the great stuff going on, I hope you’ll give your local bluegrass DJ a call and ask them to play a song by yours truly to help me celebrate! It’s certainly the best gift for a musician!!
As I walk around in shirt sleeves and sandals, I’m reminded how blessed I am to be here in sunny Arizona and to be doing what I love the most…making music. The new album is in it’s final stages and I just get more excited each time we complete another song. Life is indeed good and I have so much to be thankful for, including all of you! I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have a safe, wonder-filled and peaceful holiday season.
What could be better than being home for the holidays? As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m just so grateful to be surrounded by loved ones – including family and friends. In fact, I have two holiday dinners to enjoy this year which makes me feel just a bit on the guilty side. I know quite a few folks who have decided to give up their own dinner plans in order to serve meals at soup kitchens and churches. That’s the other part of this celebration – sharing our blessings with others. Whatever your plans are for this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope they are blessed with peace and joy.
It’s been a hectic 4 weeks! I was back east recording four more songs for the new album, running the Park Slope Jamboree, and then attending the IBMA World of Bluegrass Conference. I feel like I’ve been through the wringer, wrung out and then hung out to dry!
There’s just too much to tell in one little bitty blog so I’ll save the full story for the newsletter which should be coming out in early November. It felt great to be back in the recording studio with long time bandmates Mark Farrell, Doug Nicolaisen, and Nick Sullivan with special guest Kenny Kosek who is an amazing fiddler. Now the album is almost 2/3 done and we’ll be wrapping up the remaining songs over the winter in sunny AZ.
The Jamboree was another rousing success. We had a terrific bunch of bands for the Saturday concert. I even ran into a couple of bands from the Jamboree at the World of Bluegrass showcases. It was such an honor to award the Brown Jug to Drew Smith this year. He may have a bookcase full of trophies, but I know he’ll treasure the Brown Jug for years to come!
And speaking of Brown Jug winners. I ran into Bill Keith at World of Bluegrass and got a chance to congratulate him on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The IBMA Conference was a whirlwind of activity and not just because Hurricane Joaquin chose that weekend to make landfall! I have no idea how the organizers and the City of Raleigh managed to move all the outdoor events into protected areas, but they did! I was on pins and needles during the Special Awards Presentation as I waited to hear the winner of the Bluegrass Event of the Year. It was heartwarming to have photos of our little Jamboree up on the big screen for everyone to see. We didn’t win, but we were up against some real giants with RockyGrass and the Lester Flatt Celebration tying for the trophy. Thank you all for your support and best wishes, this nomination meant so much to me. I just love our happy little festival in Brooklyn!