Steve James (blues musician)

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Steve James
Born (1950-07-15) July 15, 1950 (age 71)
Manhattan, New York, United States
GenresFolk blues, acoustic blues, contemporary blues
Occupation(s)Singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, mandolin
Years activeLate 1970s-present

Steve James (born July 15, 1950, Manhattan, New York City, United States) is an American folk blues musician.[1] A multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, James operates in the fields of acoustic and folk blues. Without the benefit of promotion from a major record label, James has secured his fan base from consistent touring.[2]


James plays a National steel guitar, mandolin, and the banjo, having become fixated, as an adolescent, on blues music.[1] As a teenager in New York City, James listened to his father's record collection, which included recordings from Lead Belly, Josh White, and Meade "Lux" Lewis. Following relocation to Tennessee, he met both Sam McGee and Furry Lewis.[1] In 1977, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and played along with various musicians including Bo Diddley, John P. Hammond and Dave Van Ronk.[2]

James' earliest recordings were Two Track Mind (1993), American Primitive (1994), and Art & Grit (1996).[2] Bob Brozman played some slide guitar on Art & Grit, and Danny Barnes has appeared on a number of James' recordings.[3]

In 2000, the Portland, Oregon based, Burnside Records label, issued Boom Chang. Three years later Burnside released, Fast Texas, where James was accompanied by Cindy Cashdollar on steel and dobro guitars; plus Ruthie Foster and Cyd Cassone on vocals. James' own songs appeared on Fast Texas, as well as covers of work from Hop Wilson, Milton Brown, and Little Hat Jones. Cashdollar and Alvin Youngblood Hart had previously guested on Boom Chang.[2]

James' playing has also appeared on recordings from James McMurtry and Ana Egge. He has released an instructional video and contributed to Acoustic Guitar.[2]

He continues to tour around the world and incorporates teaching sessions on guitar playing techniques.[2]


  • Two Track Mind (1993) - Discovery
  • American Primitive (1994) - Antone's
  • Art & Grit (1996) - Texas Music Group
  • Not for Highway Use: Austin Sessions 1988-1995 (2000) - Settlement
  • Boom Chang (2000) - Burnside Distribution
  • Fast Texas (2003) - Burnside Distribution
  • Tonight (2004) - Artist One-Stop
  • Steve James + Del Rey (2004) - Hobemian Records
  • Short Blue Stories (2009) - Hobemian Records[4]
  • Steve James Live, Vol. I, Austin TX and Berkeley CA (2016) - Hobemian Records HB0020
  • Steve James, Blues and Folk Songs, Volume 1 (2018) - Hobemian Records HB0023


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Blues (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 199. ISBN 0-85112-673-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Richard Skelly (1950-07-15). "Steve James | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  3. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 123–124. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  4. ^ "Steve James | Discography". AllMusic. 1950-07-15. Retrieved 2014-01-29.