The James Riley Band
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The James Riley Band


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""Lay Me Down" EP - The James Riley Band"

"The James Riley EP sounds like a dusty journey through America's mid-West, where the listener's only guides are James Riley and his bandmates. Riley writes with a deftness often reserved for musicians twice his age, and pours his trans-Atlantic upbringing into each refrain and dynamic build.

Vocal harmonies are layered over rich instrumentation provided by banjo and violin strings, throbs of bass and Riley's ever-present, lilting guitar lines. These are songs of sweeping landscapes, adventures on the open road and labors of love.

The EP pays tribute to the bold storytellers from days past, but presents listeners with that most elusive of composers: the modern troubadour." - Tshepo Mokoena - Addict Music

"Artist Spotlight: James Riley"

With one hand scribbling lyrics onto the back of a road map, and the other held aloft to thumb down a ride, London born singer-songwriter James Riley is a troubadour of the kind many thought no longer exist.

A ‘fiendishly proficient’ guitarist, singer, and a roadrunner to match, James chronicles the story of his experiences through clamorous, jubilant bluegrass ‘n’ soul and exquisitely spun yarns, told through ethereal, almost hymn-like ballads of love and life.

James has an EP out (and available on Bandcamp - He is also touring extensively with his full 8-piece band throughout the Summer.

For more info: - Stop Look Listen

"Life Of Riley For Gigs Winner James"


On 1 September, the James Riley duo beat off competition from almost 500 acts to win this summer’s Gigs busking competition. We spoke to James to find out more…

How long have you been performing?

I got my first guitar when I was about 12 and I’ve been performing pretty much ever since. I started writing songs about the same time, so it’s been quite a while. Danny's been playing cello since he was about ten, and we've been performing together for a little over a year.

You recently hitchhiked your way busking from Amsterdam to Istanbul...

I wanted to have a bit of an adventure and get out of the UK, as I’d been studying for ages. A lot of street cultures change as you move across Europe as do people’s attitudes towards busking. It’s very different busking in Amsterdam to busking in Belgrade. I’d vote London as one of the best places to busk in Europe.

What inspired you to enter this year’s Gigs competition?

Lots of things, partly it looked like fun, also it was good for us as musicians to feel like we were part of an Olympic summer. We didn’t really expect to win.

You must be chuffed to win especially in your hometown and in such a special year for London. How did you feel when you found out?

Surprised – me and Danny sat there for what seemed like ages not realising we were supposed to be on stage. The quality of the other acts was so high we were glad to have been part of the competition it was a wonderful feeling and a big shock to win.

Did any other Gigs acts impress you in particular?

All the acts were just amazing. There was an incredible level of talent and we were really impressed. A special mention would have to go to Simeon who played in the final with us - a remarkable songwriter and performer. And we really enjoyed Itchy Teeth and Meg who played with us at Hyde Park in the bandstand. Those guys really stood out.

How do you think winning the Gigs competition will help you in the future?

Obviously it’s pretty cool as we now have busking licences for the Underground. It’s a real privilege that will help us perform and be musicians. It’s also a vote of confidence. It’s very humbling to win something like this, I suppose it will propel us forward and help us to be better performers. If you look at the Robbie Boyd Band who won it last year, I think it’s certainly benefited them and they’ve gone on to big things now.

Other than winning Gigs, what have been your favourite memories of this summer like no other?

We’ve had lots of really good musical memories of this summer. Playing Secret Garden Party was really great – it’s been a very gig heavy summer. One of the things we’ve really enjoyed in London has been the general atmosphere. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never experienced it being so electric and vibrant as it has been these past few months. It’s been a wonderful summer and a really great time to be in London. We’ve really enjoyed being here.


"Lay Me Down" EP / T&J Records / April 2013

"James Riley" EP / Self-Release / March 2012



Hot on the heels of a year spent in full swing for this “9-piece bluegrass, folk and soul explosion”, April 2013 sees the release of The James Riley Band’s Debut EP "Lay Me Down" and a UK tour to boot.

2012 saw the band win the The Mayor of London: Gigs Competition after seeing off competition from 500+ other acts, as well as dazzling the festival circuit at Secret Garden Party, BT London Live, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, OneTaste, Small World and Playgroup and many others.

Blending “joyously melodic” songwriting with a soulful intensity, The James Riley Band weave a tapestry of styles, fusing influences from the guitar-­led songcraft of John Martyn, the swooning strings of Bill Withers and the jubilant abandon of Springsteen, all compounded into an electrifying live experience.

The band formed in late 2011 after James returned to London from hitch-hiking 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.