James became a full-time professional pedal steel guitarist at age 18 in 1989. In the course of his 30+ year career, James has been privileged to be hired to play live and/or record with scores of prominent artists in addition to regional and local acts. Some of the acclaimed artists James has worked with include Vern Gosden, Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Dale Watson, Gary P. Nunn, The Derailers, Tommy Alverson, Chris Shiflett, The Tejas Brothers, Heybale, Brennen Leigh, Whitney Rose, Jim Stringer, Bracken Hale, Kris Gordon, Rick Broussard, and Darrell McCall.
In 2007, James left Nashville, where he had been working for the previous 6 years, to relocate to the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas. In addition to his work with local students and recording studios, James can frequently be seen playing live in many of central Texas’ most iconic nightclubs and dancehalls. Venues include the Broken Spoke, Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, The Continental Club, The White Horse, Gruene Hall, and Luckenbach. James is also known to appear at many of Texas’ biggest music festivals, including Austin City Limits, Larry Joe Taylor, and the Texas Music Reunion. In recent years, James has had the opportunity to play on several critically-acclaimed recording projects.
With the launch of his revolutionary Steel Lab instructional video series, James entered into a new global dimension of his career. This endeavor has allowed James to present his exceptionally effective teaching style to an ever-expanding international audience with over 35 videos and a viewership exceeding 90,000. The response to this series from the steel guitar community has been overwhelmingly positive, with many viewers contacting James for personal pedal steel instruction and consultation.
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