James Riley
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James Riley

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF | AFM

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Folk Soul




"James Riley"

James will be a superstar one day. It’s a sure bet. He is already a hero for most of the people who have ever had a chance to see him busking. He plays so beautifully that you wouldn’t be able to pass him by without noticing him. He is like an amulet against the evil eye. The spirits are always high when you have him around; you look at him and smile.
James puts his heart and soul into his performance. Even those who never play in the street could not resist joining him. What an influential musician! - BuskinginAthens.com

"James Riley on Chicago Acoustic Underground"

"I am sure you will ... enjoy this man's Folk inspired music" - CAU

"James Riley Review"

“James Riley plays a mean finger picking guitar and has a voice that rings out like a bell. Joyously melodic uptempo folk stomp-alongs are mixed with contemplative ballads, all delivered with brilliant technique.” - SuperGlad Records

"The James Riley Band @ The Bedroom Bar"

The crammed-in crowd of eager ears awaiting The James Riley Band’s set tonight at The Bedroom Bar demonstrates a pay-off for the hard work in the lead up to the launch of the debut, Lay Me Down EP.

“You met me at a festival, I was dressed in a cowboy hat and skirt,” declares one man who grabs James before the gig. The past year has seen James Riley and his many backing musicians descend upon venues, festivals and streets across the UK with their brand of folk, bluegrass and soul.

Busking en route to gigs, the James Riley Band are musical grafters. This was recognised by the Mayor of London Gigs Competition, which they won last year following a summer of outdoor performances around London.

Tonight’s set kicked off with leg-slapping, arm-in-arm romp ‘A Letter to You Sam’. This, along with the next two upbeat songs, has a distinct American taste – clearly evidence of James’ dual heritage.

James’ songwriting fuses the American and English folk influences seamlessly, whereas others joining these genres can have a tendency to sound contrived.

We’ve seen James play before on his own, and he stood out as a calmly charismatic performer, but tonight with delicately arranged instrumentation filling out his songs, he was able to let go. He bounded up and down on the stage, clearly connected with his beaming band, basking in the energy of the crowd swelling to all corners of the venue.

The rhythm section comprised of upright bass and drums and was complemented by a spoon player who particularly excited front row members with a storming spoon solo. Two backing singers, electric guitarist, cellist and violinist completed the lineup.

A mid-set dip in tempo expanded the band’s sound with the traditional English folk-tinged ‘Ruby Rabiger’ and the soul-infused purr of ‘Even Love’. A sing-a-long of the EP’s title track closed the set, and the first night of the band’s UK tour. We wonder how the nine members will manage to transport themselves from venue to venue on this week’s tour, let alone fit on the stages of them all.

Bigger stages surely beckon for this joyous crew. It was a thrill to see artists at that exciting stage where people are flocking to support them, knowing that James Riley his band won’t be one of the best kept secrets on the London folk scene for much longer. - For Folk's Sake

"Introducing… The James Riley Band"

Laura Marling described The James Riley Band as “Awesome… like The Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions”…great words of praise indeed and his debut EP ‘Lay Me Down’ which is due for release on 28th April lives up to that image. You can watch the offical video for the title track below. There is a lovely joyfulness to their music which is really evident on ‘Lay Me Down’, it hooked us on first listen…from the harmonies to the guitar work there’s nothing to not like! They blend a whole fusion of sounds from folk to a classic soul that can be heard on the likes of ‘Even Love’.

There’s no denying that The James Riley Band are something very special, it comes as no surprise after hearing this EP that they won The Mayor of London: Gigs Competition 2012 after seeing off competition from 500+ other acts. They are going places for sure…one to watch for 2013!

The band formed in late 2011 after James returned to London from hitchhiking and busking his way to Istanbul, armed with a handful of new songs and stories. A mid-­‐Atlantic by birth and a roadrunner by nature, James has also gigged extensively in America, supporting blues legend Buddy Guy in Chicago and gaining nationwide FM radio exposure on West Coast Live.

They have their EP Launch Party on 23rd April, 8pm at The Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch: Details. - Folk Radio UK


James Riley (Expected release October 2016)

Lonestar Heavyweight (2014)

Lay Me Down (2013)

Hammer Fallin' EP (2011)


Feeling a bit camera shy


It's 2016, and London-born singer-songwriter James Riley is touching down in Nashville after a year packed with US and UK performances, returning to his adopted home to start work on his fan-funded début album.

Riley hopped the pond in November 2014 after losing a coin-toss in a greasy spoon café in Deptford. Gamely lumping his guitar and suitcase across the Atlantic on the justification that he’d probably get a few good songs out of the experience, this 28-year old yarn-spinner, experimental blender of bluegrass & soul (and without question the person most likely to get you thrown out of the pub for bellowing drinking songs) had finally made the move he secretly hoped he’d make ever since he first heard the sound of Hank Williams crooning through his parent’s 8-track.

James's current musical journey began in 2010 when he penned a handful of songs whilst hitchhiking to Istanbul, Riley spent the following years honing his craft on the London folk circuit, self-releasing records, winning occasional awards, playing to growing festival crowds and receiving critical acclaim from the BBC and PBS for his dreamily poetic lyrics and “fiendishly proficient” bluegrass & soul guitar style. 

After making the decision to move stateside in 2015, James laid his hat down in Tennessee, and began to immerse himself in the culture and sound of Music City.  What has followed has been a period of creative renewal for Riley, with a flood new influences giving birth to a slew of fresh material. After an Official Showcase at Folk Alliance International kicking of 2016, and with tours on both sides of the Atlantic to accompany his debut album's release this fall, finally James's momentum is starting to gather like never before...      

“Awesome… like the Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions”  
Laura Marling
“Riley writes with a deftness often reserved for musicians twice his age” 
Addict Music
"One of my highlights of 2014"
Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3 

“It hooked us on first listen…from the harmonies to the guitar work there’s nothing to not like”
Folk Radio UK

Dick Gaughan

“James Riley won’t be one of the best kept secrets on the London folk scene for much longer”
For Folk’s Sake 

Winner of the Mayor of London: Gigs Competition 2012

Band Members