Brad James, Red Dirt royalty and a consummate Tulsa sideman, is releasing his debut solo venture.
The Brad James Band’s “Live at Fellowship Hall” album will be released Friday, Aug. 9, via Tulsa’s Horton Records. A record release show is scheduled for Sept. 14 at The Colony, 2809 S. Harvard Ave.
James has been a part of the Tulsa music scene for three decades. His album includes eight originals and features musical contributions from some of Tulsa’s best artists, including producer Chris Combs.
“While I know that most people these days just download their favorite song or two and put it in a playlist, I really wanted this album, this batch of songs, to stand up as an art piece,” James said in a news release. “It is basically my journey over the years as I transitioned from the Stillwater Red Dirt scene to the Tulsa music scene.”
James started his career as a founding member of Medicine Show. He then played with the Steve Pryor Band, toured with Brandon Jenkins and Stoney LaRue and began a residency with Tom Skinner’s Science Project.
In advance of the album release, James listed his musical influences:
Steve “Doc” Hickerson of Rockin’ Jimmy and the Brothers of the Night
“His ability to play what is absolutely appropriate, with amazing tone and touch, and loads of feeling is always very inspiring,” James said.
“We have worked together for 20 years doing guitar repair, so I get to enjoy hearing him test guitars every day, but there is nothing like getting to hear him play live.”
Earl Cate of Cate Bros. Band, Earl & Them, The Band
“Earl’s approach to funky rhythm guitar playing, R&B chord voicings and amazing soloing, all of this changed my approach to guitar when I started hearing him in the early ’90s,” James said. “The many times I have gotten to play with him have all been really memorable watermarks in my musical career.”
Allman Brothers Band
James said he was influenced by Duane Allman’s guitar playing, Gregg Allman’s singing, the psychedelic weave of blues and jazz, the connection with Derek and the Dominoes “and all the music that that has spawned.”
He said he first heard the band’s music when he was in the first grade, and it still brings him joy and inspiration.
Red Dirt Music Family Tree
James said nothing changed the course of his life more profoundly than his time in Stillwater in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
He said the influence of getting to play — and hang — with guys like Tom Skinner, Jimmy LaFave, Bob Childers and others “was a real blessing.”
JJ Cale & Eric Clapton, The Road to Escondido
“What can I say? These guys were two of my musical heroes for decades, then they make an album together with a great band and great guest artists. I still listen to Escondido and their solo work all the time.”
James also threw a bonus shout-out to Jimmy Karstein, who has worked with Leon Russell, Cale, Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, the Bobby Blue Bland, Clapton and many others.
“Jimmy doesn’t always take compliments well, but one time I told him how much I had learned about playing rhythm guitar from just watching him play tambourine,” James said. “He looked up at me, kind of squinted, shook his finger at me and said ‘Well all right, man!’ ”
James said Karstein’s advice on dynamics and volume also proved helpful: “You don’t have to get off up here. You can get off down here.”
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