Jim Kam
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Jim Kam

Band Folk New Age


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"Jim Kam's "Jimmy Nobody""

Why does so much Stick music sound the same? Don't any of those tappers have an original voice? How many more times do we have to hear a root-5-10 bass figure? Or those melody strings swimming in Boss reverb and chorus?

You can stop complaining now and listen to Jim Kam's short but sweet EP "Jimmy Nobody." The CD's title is a charming irony given that Kam has one of the most distinctive voices in Stickdom. His tapping is fluid, silky, positively legato. Not a sharp attack in the disc's five daydreamy tracks. With only a touch of reverb and no overdubs, it's clear that his sound is purely in his fingers.

Kam (rhymes with "mom") plays a nicely recorded 10-string XG Stick with the PASV-4 pickup module. His light touch and lingering phrasing give the instrument the lush chime of a harpsichord crossed with a warm dreadnought and a bare-finger-picked Strat. This subtle texture serves the simple, heartfelt music well. Though there's some imperfect intonation at the start, Kam's gentle right-hand vibrato really stamps his style and helps set the contemplative mood.

As notable as this work is for its Stick sounds, an equally engaging dimension is -- surprise -- Kam's singing voice. What a treat. His tone and phrasing are plaintively Irish-sounding, almost like a male version of Niamh Parsons. The CD begins with an original instrumental, "Daydream," followed by Kam's version of Jen Hamel's "Tender is the Night." As soon as he opens his mouth and empties his pipes, the tawny timbre of his voice makes you stop, listen, and wonder: "What is that sound? Who is that?" With the delicacy of a breathy sax or a half-muted trumpet, Kam renders simple traditional verse with unmistakable expression.

It's a tactile combination: satin vocals with graphite Stick. Together they are a quiet but rewarding moment in this early evolution of tapping and its integration into all musical genres. Kam has created his own little niche, one that I hope will grow. If Niamh Parsons is the darling of Ireland, then Kam is the Parsons of Texas and, for now, the Stick world.

The album art is equally and perfectly pastoral. A rich and pensive painting by Andrew Scott DeJesse fully captures the mood and setting of the music, making this promo-geared package worthy of full-album status but for its lack of running time. Even so, the disc is appropriately priced, a good deal for 20 minutes of well-presented original style.

Hey, Jimmy, any more where this came from? - John Edmonds

""Jimmy Nobody""

Jim Kam has released his first CD of all Stick music. "Jimmy Nobody" features 5 pieces of finely executed and wonderfully recorded compositions. Jim's Stick is faithfully reproduced ( without overdubs) and his voice is sonorous and passionate.

"Daydream" opens the album with a tranquil mood.Jim's tone is deep and rich with a clear, bell-like quality. His melody lines weave in and out of chord progressions with ease and never detract from the harmonic flow of the piece. No rapid fire,machine gun licks here folks. Just a deep sense of melody and a delicate touch.

"Tender is the Night" features Jim's haunting yet gentle voice. There is almost a reverent quality to his vocals which immediately puts the listener at ease.Once again the Stick comes through with shining posture.

"Summertime" is Jim's version of the classic Gershwin/Heyword jazz standard.Jim's firm grasp and understanding of melody and harmony are apparent as he executes each line with masterful aplomb.My only quip is that it is too short!

"She Moved Through the Fair" once again features Jim's vocals on this interpretation of a traditional arrangement.But the Stick is not far behind.Jim delivers on demand with beautiful,deep bass and and his signature clear melodies.His voice is somewhat reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot as he sings with the conviction of a passionate troubadour.

"Remembering Allison" is by far my favorite offering from Jim. The sustaining volume swell of the intro reminds me of a lone cello which firmly fixes itself in the background as Jim carries out a sorrowful melody as strong and gentle as an eagle in flight.The liner notes describe this song as "a lament,an expression of one parents grief over the lost of a child".Indeed,the composition moved me into a place of contemplation over the tragedy of such loss. A wonderful closer to a wonderful album.

"Jim Nobody" is a collection of dreamful states of consciousness,of music that is almost "sacred and worshipful" if I may be allowed such bold a statement.It is also a portrait of an artist who is not afraid to follow the calling of his own muse.A calling which has led him to express his art with the Chapman Stick.I look forward to a full leangth album from Jim as this E.P. left me wanting for more.I only hope he doesn't make us wait too long!Way to go Jim. Highly recommended.5 out of 5 Sticks for an incredibly lush production and heartfelt performance. - Juan Leon, StradaSphere Radio


EP "Jimmy Nobody" 2004
Currently working on an as yet untitled project to be released later in 2007.



Jim was born and raised in Singapore.

He began formal study of the pianoforte in 1962 at age five, studying with Victor Doggett Music Studios in Singapore until Age 18. Jim looks back at that period with much fondness for Mr. Doggett whose mentorship instilled in him a deep appreciation as well as a critical ear for great music. Also pursued classical guitar studies with Mr. Harry Martinez from 1968-1972.

At age 16, he was accepted to Singapore's (and Southeast Asia's) premier choral organization, the Singapore Youth Choir and later the Singapore Youth Choir Ensemble. He was part of the group that won first place in the Youth Choir competition in the Langollen International Music Eisteddford in Langollen, Wales (1974). Remained in the choir till 1978. Whilst in the military, Jim served in the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company (a troupe of singers, dancers, actors and instrumentalists similar to the USO) for 1 1/2 years. During the 70's, he participated in hundreds of live performances and made many TV and radio appearances.

Jim moved to the US in 1980 to study Computer Engineering in Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne Indiana. Upon graduation, he moved to Midland, Texas where he worked in the oil patch for 7 years. Moved to Houston to join Compaq Computer Corp in early 1991.

He first read about the Chapman Stick in a Guitar Player interview with Emmett Chapman in the '70's and was intrigued. Later on, while still in college, saw a Stick while on a road trip around southern California and just had to have one. Visited Emmett at his home in Laurel Canyon. The demo that Emmett gave made enough of an impression that Jim quickly sold off his hitherto prized Gibson ES335 guitar to purchase his first Stick.

Jim spent the 80's and much of the 90's musically inert. Education, career, marriage and fatherhood took precedence. The Stick lay in the spare bedroom closet for much of the time, to be taken out only a couple of times a year.

In the late 90's, with interest rekindled by joining the internet Stick mailing list, Stickwire, Jim began the initially slow process of learning the Stick. Attending several weekend Stick seminars and countless hours of diligent study, he found himself making strides in learning this somewhat enigmatic instrument.

He began playing open mikes in the late 90's (long before he was ready) to gain experience, as well as add the impetus to push the boundaries of his playing ability. Long a believer in the motivational aspects of public humiliation, Jim will get on stage with no idea what he will play until he begins. Much of what he plays tends to be improvised anyway, so what the hey?

These days, Jim has developed a small following for his eclectic approach to this still novel instrument.

At quintessential folk oriented singer/songwriter gatherings such as the International Folk Alliance Conferences and the Kerrville Folk Festival, Jim is generally the only Stick player in attendance.