The World of Bluegrass Just Got Bigger!

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!

Music to My Ears

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!!

Behind the Songs LogoI’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 info@jamesreams.com.

Interview with “I Had to Ask” Hosted by Lillian Freeman

Lillian Freeman Interviews JamesWhile 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.

2016 is Shaping Up to be a BIG year!

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!

birthday cake

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!!

Just Call Me Hurricane James

Raleigh Paper

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!

Woohoo!!! Jamboree Receives IBMA Nomination as 2014 Event of the Year!

Jamboree Poster 2015I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am that our “happy little festival” in Brooklyn has been nominated for the IBMA 2014 Event of the Year! And “YES!” it is an honor just to be nominated. Wow! This is just so exciting!

The Park Slope Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Jamboree has been a labor of love for me for 16 years now. I almost chucked in the towel on the Jamboree after my partner, Tina, passed away but something deep inside me just wouldn’t let me give it up. And I’m so glad I didn’t!

Last year’s festival honored Bill Keith with the Brown Jug Award for his contributions to bluegrass music and I’m proud to see that he has been selected as a 2015 Inductee into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

I hope the news of this nomination encourages more folks to come out and join us on September 25-26 for our 16th Jamboree. We’ve got a great lineup of artists and workshops planned! More information is available on this website under the “Jamboree” tab.

My Hat’s in the Ring!

I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring and seek nomination for the IBMA Board of Directors – Artists & Composers Category. I’m a lifetime member of this fine organization and, at this time in my life, I feel compelled to give something back to the community of bluegrass in any way I can. I hope you will take a moment and send an email to suggestions@ibma.org nominating me for the Artists & Composers Category.

I am dedicated to advancing the cause of bluegrass internationally as well as intergenerationally, and will be a voice of reason for all IBMA members, from the fledgling picker to the virtuoso fiddler. I promise transparency on behalf of the IBMA Board of Directors and will use my communication skills to keep all IBMA members informed of what’s going on within our association.

Nominate James

Whirling Through the World of Bluegrass

It was so great to get a chance to go to the IBMA World of Bluegrass again. For some years this event has conflicted with the Park Slope Jamboree, but I’m happy to report that is no longer the case! Let me just say kudos to the City of Raleigh for making all of us bluegrassers feel so welcome. It was a total immersion experience and I LOVED IT! Catching up with old (and young!) friends and fellow musicians was just the tip of the bluegrass blade for me. I was in constant motion from the time I arrived. Hanging out with Bill Keith (the Brown Jug Award winner at this year’s Jamboree) at his special reception for winning the Distinguished Artist Award was a highlight as was walking the red carpet for the awards show. I enjoyed myself immensely and am already chomping at the bit for next year’s soiree!