An interview with John James: Musical influences came from the people I met …


How has the music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

The music I played was largely performance based therefore I had to travel to find a stage. Musical influences came from the people I met. In the early 1970’s on my first tours to Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, I met musicians from Argentina, Brazil, USA, themselves on a journey. The music they gave me shaped my performances.

How do you describe your sound and music philosophy? What’s the balance in music between technique and soul?

All instruments require a technique, the complexity or mastery of which is decided by the form of music played. The music I played on the acoustic guitar required a very comprehensive technique. Most jazz and classical guitar music can be equally demanding. In performance, though, it should appear effortless.

What moment changed your music life the most? Are there any specific memories or highlights of your career that you would like to tell us about?!

Having Album of the month in Melody Maker, Album of the Year in Acoustic News, making the first guitar video, recording Sky in My Pie album with Pete Berryman & Stefan Grossman, playing and touring with Happy Traum, then in 3-Space with Dick Heckstall-Smith.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

These days an audience can make more noise than the band. Listening will soon be a forgotten skill.

Skiffle (Donegan), Jazz (Barber), Blues (Korner/C. Davis), … What were the reasons that made the UK in 60s to be the center of music researches and experiments?

During the 1960’s in the idioms of jazz, classical music & pop, there were many musicians treading new ground in North America and Europe as well as in Britain.

Barriers were being pushed over…all over the place. When Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker changed the role of the drummer and bass player, the way was clear for others to follow.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

What people listen to today … they may not listen to tomorrow…

What touched you from the acoustic sound? Why do you think that acoustic music scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

I started performing, aged 14, playing at dances, in an amplified, such as it was then, beat group. The acoustic music scene of classical/folk/blues guitar offered an intimacy of performance and musical appreciation I found appealing.

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