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2010 Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year Finalist
2009 Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year Finalist
2009 International Folk Alliance Showcase Artist
2008 - Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year Finalist
2008 - Highway 61 Songwriter of the Year Finalist
JAMES IS AN OFFICIAL MCKNIGHT FOUNDATION EMERGING ARTIST GRANT RECIPIENT
James Moors knows the exact moment he became a songwriter. When his brother disappeared in the mountains of Montana, James went to look for him, fatefully in vain. Epiphanies are frequently sparked by difficult and painful realities. In the darkest moments, through grace or providence or maybe just gut-checking self-reflection, a light sneaks through. James didn’t find what he was looking for. What he did find was himself, a reason to live, a strategy for living better, a calling.
Fifteen years, 6 CD’s, 1000’s of live shows, one name change, and too many miles down too many roads later, James is the answer to that call, the consummate singer-songwriter. It’s been a circuitous route, musically and otherwise, but he’s stayed the course – writing, singing, playing and working on music. That was the pact he made with his brother and that is the life that James lives today.
“I never said that I was gonna make it, or anything like that. I just said that I was gonna do it. I promised my brother that I’d do what we talked about … dig music, dig into music, write it, re-write it, record it, take it on the road and share it with people.”
In 1996 he walked away from a secure job and headed to the north woods of Minnesota. Diversely influenced by Rush, The Beatles, Nirvana, The Jayhawks, Crowded House and more, it was listening to Shawn Colvin – once, quite randomly – that elicited his second epiphany. “That’s it,” he thought, “that’s what I gotta do.” He sold all of his electric equipment, bought an acoustic guitar and started down the path from musician to troubadour.
Today, James resides in Superior, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. He does more than 100 live shows every year, travelling from the north woods (where he plays frequently when he’s home) to Colorado, Florida, Utah, Tennessee and points in between. On select dates, James plays with co-writer and musical partner Kort McCumber. “Kort is a great guy and great guy to sing, play and write with. He’s especially good at making a song complete. I’ve learned a lot about song structure and taking a song from nearly done to fully done.” James also writes with Peter Van Dyken (“an incredible lyricist”) and Rick Price. “Rick taught me to stick with my initial instinct – the melody that first pops into your head is probably the right one.”
Through it all he’s learned and grown, and continues to learn and grow, as a songwriter and musician. “I’m pretty sure I’m a much better songwriter today than I was 10, or even 5 years ago. And I wanna be even better tomorrow.” Musically, James feels like he’s come full circle, back to the Jayhawks, Crowded House and the sounds that influenced him early on, but with one big difference – experience. “I know what I can and can’t do - what I do best. I try to play to my strengths. I want the songs to shine through and I figure the best way to do that is to get out of the way and let the music and lyrics speak for themselves.”
The latest CD, Skyline, is a testament to the journey, the live show even more so. The commitment he made fifteen years ago resonates strongly today. He’s not afraid to see it, say it and lay it on the line. Enlightening, entertaining and engaging – James Moors reaches deep and brings it all, openly and optimistically, back to the surface for everyone to hear - and feel.
James has shared the stage with Chris Smither, Richard Shindell, Willy Porter, Peter Case, Jeffrey Foucault, Bill staines, Les Sampou, Tom Prasado-Rao, Peter Mayer and many others.
James Moors - Guitars and Vocal
James Moors - Skyline 2010
Moors & McCumber - Self Titled - 2009
James Moors - Hush - 2008
James Moors resonates immediately.
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"James Moors resonates immediately. He writes deeply sincere, often peacefully therapeutic music... "James Moors resonates immediately. He writes deeply sincere, often
peacefully therapeutic music with a wisdom far beyond the norm. A special
artist. It's no wonder he loves Neil Finn, because he shares some of the
same melodic gifts, enhanced by a warm-hearted spirit that makes you want to hear more.''
STEVE MORSE, longtime Boston Globe writer
Moors reveals his true identity with
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“Hush” is a document of transformation. This is one man’s unblinking and unveiled declaration of his...“Hush” is a document of transformation. This is one man’s unblinking and unveiled declaration of his life conversion offered to his family and the world.
James Moors put a mirror up to his personal and musical lives, saw a soul divided and made major life alterations. Gone is the aging child who lived a nomadic existence caring principally about himself. Enter the young adult who has embraced a family and stability. Gone is the loner who medicated away pain, responsibility and problems. Say hello to the clear-eyed friend and neighbor. Gone is the song-crafter who worked for more than a decade from behind a pseudonym.
Welcome James Moors the artist, whose muse is clear and present throughout this collection.
“Hush” is wreathed in the love, the pride and the relief that Moors’ liberation has produced. It’s an honest account that takes listeners on an uplifting ride. Moors has found an oasis in his metamorphosis.
Moors’ adoration of his young daughter is captured on two songs, the title track and “Sunshine.”
“Hush” is such a wistful lullaby that I felt like I was eavesdropping on a father tucking his child into a warm bed on a cold night: “I pray that all your dreams are true, and you can chase what talks to you.”
“Sunshine” is the story of how seeing Lily Jane for the first time was the catalyst of change and a defining moment in his life. “I had to take a deeper look, until I shook myself up right. It was no easy dance.” It is a celebratory song of a man going through the fire of change, and it invites you to join the celebration.
Moors earlier works — “Passages” (1998), “This Moment” (2000) and “Let It Go” (2002) — rarely contained love songs. “Anne Louise,” a portrait of his wife on this new release, was worth the wait. His vivid picture of lovers in the tall grass under the stars reinforces that Moors has invested himself in this album. These songs have dimension.
Making this production even more powerful is the heavy-hitting array of solid gold talent providing tasteful backing. Lisa Germano (David Bowie, U2) not only helps on violin and vocals, but was Moors’ biggest cheerleader who encouraged him long-distance from L.A. to bring this idea to fruition. Marc Perlman (Jayhawks, Golden Smog) lays down supportive bass lines. Ben Wisch (David Wilcox, Marc Cohn) adds touches of keyboards. Canada’s favorite son, Danny Michel, helps out on a variety of instruments and with production. The group adds finesse and class, but the songs remain the bricks between the mortar.
Rest in peace Sterling Waters, the name Moors’ took after his brother went missing in the Colorado Rockies in the mid-90’s. One aspect of many great artists is simply being themselves. In the realization of his new life, Moors has produced an unencumbered, earnest new work that is inspirational.
- John Ziegler
“Hush,” is easily 2008’s most promising disc yet.
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“Hush,” is easily 2008’s most promising disc yet. Before we get to the songs — which are gorgeous,... “Hush,” is easily 2008’s most promising disc yet.
Before we get to the songs — which are gorgeous, as usual — something must be said about the caliber of guest musicians Moors managed to secure for this disc.
It’s simply amazing: Among others, “Hush” features help from Marc Perlman (the Jayhawks’ bassist), Ed Ackerson (Polara frontman/ubiquitous Minneapolis music industry insider) and Lisa Germano, who has played violin on records by everyone from the Eels and David Bowie to John Mellencamp and Jewel.
An impeccable lineup, to be sure, but not as shocking a tactic as it once was. The trick, though, is for the songs not to collapse under the collective genius of their players. Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson did it last year with “Free Life,” his uber-collaborative (and equally infectious) solo debut, and now Moors is doing it too.
That said, there are many unforgettable tracks on “Hush.” With lyrics like “I’m not the only one to see / That you’re not the happy soul you used to be,” it’s hard not to take anything away from “Stretch.”
Elsewhere on the record, the bouncy “Sunshine” is Moors’ best bet for the No. 1 spot; “Magic Place” shines on with an overcast, late-period Jayhawks vibe and the title track, which made its first appearance on the Pearl Swanson benefit album “Treasure Chest,” gently winds down the album.
From beginning to end, “Hush” is a beautiful tapestry of gracious, Storyhill-worthy melodies and straight-shot-to-the-soul lyrics; proving, once again, that Moors is one of the nation’s most underrated songwriters.
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I hear a lot of CDs as a music director for a college radio station, but few pass the test. This gu...I hear a lot of CDs as a music director for a college radio station, but few
pass the test. This guy can write and sing enjoyable, radio-friendly
melodies and deserves your ears.
— John Bommarito
An original Talent 4 out of 5!
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An original Talent 4 out of 5! John Gjaltema altcountry.nl Liefdesliedjes met een dubbele voorn...An original Talent 4 out of 5!
Liefdesliedjes met een dubbele voornaam zijn bijna altijd raak. Anne Louise is weer eens zo’n liedje. Het staat op Hush (eigen beheer), de lichtelijk fantastische debuutplaat van James Moors. Maar wacht, eigenlijk is het helemaal geen debuut. De uit de noordelijke staat Wisconsin afkomstige singer-songwriter maakte namelijk eerder onder de naam Sterling Waters al drie cd’s. Blijkbaar was het tijd voor een frisse start. Op basis van het gebodene op Hush zou die doorstart zo maar eens kunnen leiden tot een groter publiek. De twaalf nummers op deze plaat vormen een afgewogen geheel, waarbij James Moors vooral overkomt als een jonge Joe Henry. Er is een grote gelijkenis tussen beide stemmen. Vanuit het donkerbruine laag gaat het naar het wat scherpere hoog. Ook de knappe opbouw van de liedjes en de spannende instrumentatie doet denken aan het werk van Henry. Moors doet dat alles met een stel uitstekende begeleiders. Marc Perlman (Jayhawks), Lisa Germano en Ed Ackerson (Polara) zijn de bekendsten. Kort McCumber en Danny Michel, die samen met Moors de plaat produceerden, geven op een uitgebreid instrumentarium mede richting aan het rijke geluid. Zo wordt openingsnummer Ten Years bepaald door eerst piano en Wurlitzer en later een viool. Het opvallende drumwerk van Peter Anderson verhevigt de gelijkenis met de muziek van Joe Henry nog eens. Ondanks die overeenkomsten hebben we hier wel degelijk te maken met een oorspronkelijk talent. (John Gjaltema)
James prefers to perform two 40 minute sets or one 75 minute set. Each set is typically infused with 1 or 2 appropriate cover songs. It's not uncommon for James to create a tune on the spot and get the crowd to participate in the performance.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.