James Hand (musician)

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James Hand
Born(1952-07-07)July 7, 1952
DiedJune 8, 2020(2020-06-08) (aged 67)
Waco, Texas, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar

James "Slim"[1] Hand (July 7, 1952 – June 8, 2020) was an American country music singer and songwriter.

Early life[edit]

James Edward Hand was born on July 7, 1952, in Waco, Texas.[2][3] He was raised in the community of Tokio in McLennan County, Texas,[3] and took to guitar playing and singing when approximately twelve years old. He worked in various jobs, including horse training and driving a truck. About his work with animals, Hand said, “People act like it’s some big deal, like this whole horse whispering thing. But I’ll tell you something – you can whisper to ’em, you can get down on your knees and act like ’em, but the horse knows you ain't a horse."[4]


As a teenager, Hand joined a small band and began performing in honky-tonks and roadhouses across Central Texas. At some point he started to write and perform his own songs.[5] After many years of live performances, he released his first album in 1997, when he was 45 years old.[6]

In 2014, Hand played a fictional version of himself in the independent film Thank You a Lot. The Austin Film Society's website noted that Hand and co-protagonist Blake DeLong, playing his son, had a chemistry that was "hilariously realistic".[7]

About the life he sings about, Hand once remarked: "I don't know if I've been more blessed or cursed. But I've been diversified."[8]

Critical appraisal[edit]

Reviewers have generally emphasized the "authenticity" of Hand's songs.[9] His music reportedly can match the "rigor" of historical performers of country music, "with the slightest touch of outlaw bluster," while his voice can be "uncertain in moments."[10] On the release of his first album, one reviewer wrote that Hand "sings the songs as if he has lived every minute of them,"[11] while The Washington Post's reviewer called him "the real deal,"[12] a view shared also by Willie Nelson.[13]

Death and legacy[edit]

On June 8, 2020, Hand died from complications of heart failure at the Providence Healthcare Center in Waco, Texas.[3][14]

On February 26, 2021, Charley Crockett released a tribute album to Hand titled 10 For Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand.[15] It was met with critical acclaim from Rolling Stone,[16] The Boot,[17] Austin American-Statesman,[18] Forbes,[19] Saving Country Music,[20] and American Songwriter[21] among others.


  • Shadows Where the Magic Was (1997)
  • Evil Things, on Cold Spring Records (1999)
  • Live From The Saxon Pub Austin TX, on Knight Klub Records (2003)
  • The Truth Will Set You Free, on Rounder Records (2006)
  • Shadow on the Ground, on Rounder Records (2009)
  • Mighty Lonesome Man, on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records (2012)
  • Stormclouds in Heaven, on Slim Hand Music (2014)


  1. ^ Powers, Calvin (December 3, 2012). "James Hand". Americana Music Show. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Deming, Mark (2018). "James Hand". AllMusic. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Blackstock, Peter (June 10, 2020). "Texas country great James Hand dies at 67". Austin 360. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  4. ^ "James Hand". The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. September 14, 2006. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  5. ^ "Country Legend James Hand is One of Texas's Best Kept Secrets". Texas Hill Country magazine. January 15, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Thanki, Juli (September 8, 2009). "Review of James Hand's Honky-Tonk Shadow on the Ground". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Cerda, Debbie (March 25, 2014). "SXSW 2014: Connecting With Local and Indie Music Through Film". Slackerwood. Austin Film Society. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  8. ^ Blackstock, Peter (June 10, 2020). "Texas country great James Hand dies at 67". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  9. ^ Bell, Ben (February 19, 2012). "James Hand". Saving Country Music. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Caramanica, Ron (October 15, 2009). "Honoring Inspirations From Life and Beyond It". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  11. ^ Munro, Stuart (April 28, 2006). "James Hand : The Truth Will Set You Free". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  12. ^ McClain, Buzz (March 19, 2006). "The Truth Will Set You Free : Review". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  13. ^ Bell, Ben (March 19, 2006). "James Hand". Houston Press. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  14. ^ "Central Texas musician James "Slim" Hand passes away Monday morning". KXXV. June 8, 2020. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  15. ^ Reuter, Annie. "Charley Crockett Is Releasing Music His Own Way In A Pandemic And It's Working". Forbes.com. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  16. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (March 24, 2021). "Charley Crockett's Throwback Country Sound Isn't in Fashion. That's Fine With Him". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  17. ^ Angela Stefano. "WATCH: Charley Crockett Drives All Night in 'Midnight Run' Video". The Boot. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  18. ^ Blackstock, Peter. "Austin360 On The Record: Blue Water Highway, David Ramirez, Charley Crockett". austin360. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  19. ^ Reuter, Annie. "Charley Crockett Is Releasing Music His Own Way In A Pandemic And It's Working". Forbes. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  20. ^ Trigger (February 26, 2021). "Album Review – Charley Crockett's "10 For Slim"". Saving Country Music. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "Charley Crockett Honors James "Slim" Hand: "I Had No Choice But To Record His Music"". American Songwriter. March 3, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.