Hi folks! I just got back from the 2016 World of Bluegrass conference. What a week! I’m planning to share more of the happenings with you in the upcoming Barnstormer Newsletter next month but thought you might like a sneak peek!
The highlight of the week was, of course, the IBMA award show. Hobnobbing with Bluegrass Unlimited’s Kitsy Kuykendall, bluegrass legend Ronnie Reno, my buddy Larry Stephenson of the Larry Stephenson Band, as well as all the good folks from Bluegrass Today before the show was so much fun. But I had no idea what an emotional experience was in store when I arrived that evening. You could have knocked me and a whole bunch of other folks over with a feather when my dear friend, Danny Paisley’s name was called as the Male Vocalist of the Year. I’ve known Danny for just about his whole career. We’ve played at the same festivals, clawing for every scrap of meat off the bluegrass bone we could get. It brought tears to my eyes and to those around me, to see him stand up there, obviously shaken, and accept his award. And he certainly deserved the win. Wow! What a thrill!! Congratulations Danny…you are an inspiration to us all!
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.
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!!
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!