Vinnie James
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Vinnie James


Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Vinnie James has Got the Credentials"

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"Vinnie James is a singer/songwriter from New York, having performed with Al Cooper and shared the same back up singers as the Rolling Stones - he's got the credentials. Those credentials ring true when you hear Vinnie live. It's one man and his guitar, but the sound still reminds me of that of 'The Band' as he succesfully fuses blues and folk to produce what is both a powerfull & down to earth sound. The one thing I noticed with regard to the writing - these aren't songs written for the sake of it, they're written with a purpose - and as such, they're extremely strong. He even managed to write an anti war number that didn't sound hackneyed or cheesy and was, infact - quite a rousing number."
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"Incredible Range and Voice"

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(The following are excerpts from a recent show with Martin Stephenson in Glasgow, Scotland)

"...In the audience was another performer that Alan sometimes has on his bills - Vinnie James- and he took to the 'stage' and sang a couple of songs. Vinnie's style isn't entirely my cup of tea - it's best described as acoustic-soul, but by gawd, the boy has an incredible range and voice that he employed to full effect. It was a fine start to the musical part of the evening..."

"...Martin Stephenson went on to perform for the next 2 hours and 50 minutes, bar a 10 minutes break somewhere in the middle when he asked Vinnie James to come back on to do a couple of songs..."

"...and Martin then improvised further by dragging Vinnie James back up to also sing vocals on a song that the latter was hearing for the first time. It defied belief in many ways - here you had six folk on stage, only two of who had worked together before, and yet they were producing a flawless and beautiful bit of work..."
............................................... - The Vinyl Villian:

"A Lyrical Wizard"

December 27, 2006
Vinnie James – Songs for the Long Journey
Posted by Jim Pipkin at December 27, 2006 08:35 AM

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There is a certain quality of voice, of presence, and of material that makes a performing songwriter worthy to sit down in a studio with a single instrument and be given worldwide exposure.

Neil Diamond comes to mind, Ryan Adams perhaps (if you can deal with erratic inconsistency), certainly Richie Havens. Jack Williams has it locked. There is now some rumbling that another such entity is playing his way up the hard staircase.
Dave Geffen of Geffen Records once called Vinnie James “a distinctive, multi-threat talent”. He can write, play, sing, produce, promote, and above all PERFORM.
In today’s music business he has to.

Vinnie’s toured with a lot of the Old Guard: Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Taj Mahal to name a few. His first release on RCA, All American Boy, earned him a Grammy nomination for the single Black Money, quite possibly one of the best songs ever written about how drug profits destroy everything they touch. Not a popular subject for those who want to romanticize that crap, but it needs to be said. Those of us who have come out on the other side alive, mourning dead friends, especially appreciate it When the now-indie Vinnie James took off to Scotland last July, there were a great many people in the industry curious as to exactly what he was up to. Now, six weeks before the planned release of his new CD Songs for the Long Journey, I’ve had the good fortune to touch bases with him and hear his entire new project.
Vinnie’s been doing very, very well. This kind of recording appeals to me, recorded on loaner instruments in a one-room studio as a labor of love. Vinnie even had to boil the borrowed harmonica.
His situation even landed him on British television, here's the clip from BBC-TV.

But is what Vinnie James doing now Americana music? Let’s see…acoustic guitar, harmonica, bagpipes, cedar flute, intense vocals, and strong message: if it ain’t it should be. It isn’t the faux-Americana (I swan if I see one more old windmill next to a broke-down pickup, or another strip-mall cowboy leaning soulfully up against a battered brick wall, I’m gonna hurl like Paris Hilton) currently being lapped up by Rockabilly fans, that’s for sure.

Vinnie James runs deeper, asks hard questions, and looks at things from a different perspective. This music isn’t performed wearing rhinestones, and Vinnie is more apt to be found wearing a sailor’s bandana than a cowboy hat. His own description of his work is “folk-hybrid”, but linking “folk” to that “hybrid” is a bit misleading. Like calling a wolf dog a “puppy-hybrid”.

Now, to the tunes.
Lose the I is the first cut, and it lays the cards right out there. If you can’t get past being selfish and self-centered, you ARE the problem. The harsh intro is, in my opinion, righteously jarring. The sardonic use of sixties-style R&B/Folk to drive home the message was not lost on me. For many American hedonists, this is the point of view you will not be provided by a multibillion-dollar machine based on selling you the next silly fad to make you feel fulfilled. You should at least peek through the bars into the next cage every once in awhile. This song provides a keyhole, if you care to spare a glance.

Homeless Man is sung as a memory, with the disjointed images and thoughts of a child going to a rainy bus stop with one added errand from a decent mother. There are some great sounds in here – a lone basketball bouncing on the court, a softly strummed guitar, with elegant reverb on some key vocals. Fine rhythm and poetry. The closing line seals the song.

Queen of the Dance is a lyrical exploration of loss and longing. A well-traveled subject, true, but animated here by some outstanding lyrical exploration, expressing some very deep anger at a useless waste. Some of us have had that snowball-in-the-pit-of-the-belly feeling on hearing horrible news. Obviously Vinnie is one of us, and he came out of it with a beautiful howl of pain.
When is sappy and sentimental good? Mister How Big is the World starts out with an intro sung by two little Scottish girls who live near Vinnie in Glasgow. They are asking a perfectly reasonable question, from a child’s point of view. And, like many adults, Vinnie doesn’t have the heart to give an honest answer. He just passes the question on to us.

Here I’m going to ask for your indulgence. Ah, screw your indulgence; this is my review after all. I’m a sucker for love songs, I just don’t think there are ever enough of them. Everlasting Love is a sweet, gooey, danceable tune with some fun lyrics that, hopefully, will earn Vinnie enough money on pop radio to keep him recording.
Children of the Garden of Eden is a slow, soulful ballad about life in an imperfect world. Life on the streets, but strong, not weak. Hopeful, not hopeless. Here’s a lyric that grabbed me in particular:

“So close your stained glass windows,
Send your preachers home
They cannot say one single word
Their actions have not shown”

So, obviously not sucking up to the Far Right, are we? Good luck getting that one played on a Clear Channel station, bud. You can glorify drugs and sex, but don’t talk about those preacher-men.

Save the World starts out as a nice dance tune that could have come right off of a Motown record…but wait, who threw in an actual message here, and the phased rap with horns? Cool. Definitely not twang, but classy as hell.
One of my great complaints with Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” was that he didn’t take the time to find a real piper to throw that bagpipe lick on the front end. As a result, the electro-pipe intro sounds kind of cheesy to pipe buffs. Vinnie did not make the same mistake, bringing in Duncan J. Nicholson of the award-winning Strathclyde Police Pipe Band to play some very solid, tasty stuff on County Line. Acoustic guitar, bagpipe, cedar flute, and backing up yer bro – HELL yeah! To tell a complex story like this as a series of flashing images is the work of a lyrical wizard.

My Heaven is another tender love song. Yeah, I see that look, but when you’re on the couch with that special someone, you WANT this song coming over the speakers, trust me. The way the keyboard drops out at the end is something I’ve not heard yet in a tune, a sparse and definite close. I liked it.
Summertime is an anthem for people who are burdened under that strange northern season called “winter”. We don’t get it here in Arizona, but we really feel for you poor frozen folk up there. Not really. But you should listen to this tune, just to drive those icicles a little deeper under your fingernails. There is something going on here between the fuzzy electric guitar lead and a percussive string effect that is lonely, haunting, wintry, and original.

The disc closes with the simple Hello Angel, carried perfectly with just voice and acoustic guitar. This is where Vinnie James comes through most powerfully on a powerful project. A clean, spare showstopper, an excellent closing tune for a fine piece of work.
If this CD had already been released, it would have easily made my Top Ten for 2006. I would be very surprised if it doesn't make the cut for 2007.

Now, if this guy could find a decent label and an honest manager, he could stop eating haggis on the moor and get to Paris for some real food.
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"Vinnie James is poised to become a great influence on American folk music"

A Dough Re Mi
Mount Pleasant, SC
29 June 2006
by Dereck Curry

Vinnie James may very well resurrect the popularity of folk music.

James was in Charleston to pick up a locally made, custom Aquila guitar. While in town, he played a few local shows to break in the guitar before traveling to Europe for an extensive tour.

He commented that he was excited to play at A Dough Re Mi, where the size of the venue allowed him to be able to better connect with an attentive audience; something he would be unable to do in the larger European venues. The audience did seem appreciative of the fact, being very receptive to James’s music.

Like a stereotypical folk singer, James plays solo and with an acoustic guitar. However, unlike many folk singers, James music is not an angry protest about those who have been wronged by society. Instead, his music is a reflection of their lives, and how they impacted his life as well. Also, his music at times reflected a frustration in not being able set right those things that are wrong. Because of this nature to his music, his song writing reminds the listener of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and Townes Van Zandt at times.

In addition to the strong lyrical component of his music, James’s guitar skills are equally as powerful, even on the new and unfamiliar guitar. The musical accompaniment was a perfect fit to the thought provoking and often powerful words. His guitar arrangements are similar to those of James Taylor, and even John Hiatt, in that they provide an underlying mood, are simple at times, complex at others, and yet they never overpower the vocal performance.

James does not do many cover songs in his set, having been a songwriter since the age of fourteen. There were a few covers of Eagles and Bob Dylan songs, but his vast repertoire of music allowed him to play for several hours without having to rely on covers.

With his originality and strong musicianship, Vinnie James is poised to become a great influence on American folk music, possibly taking it to new levels of popularity.
............................................... - Low Country Music Magazine

"Vinnie James is a master wordsmith"

"Songs for the Long Journey" is much more a than simply a CD; it is an audible work of art.
Every cut could stand alone as its own CD, none are similar to the song before or after it. Vinnie James is a master wordsmith, "Homeless Man" is a remarkably poignant tale of compassion by the 'have nots' for those who have even less. Throughout the CD, James'
commentary is critical but hopeful and the dynamics of the music are tricky, tricky, tricky. Listen to "County Line". Just when you think you know where this
chord is going, he rips the rug out from underneath you. I love it!!

"Songs for the Long Journey" comes out in February, 2007. My advice is buy two copies because you will wear one out.

Maxine Jewett
President, Southwest Acoustic Music
............................................... - Southwest Acoustic Music Association

"Some of the most provocative lyric writing I've heard"

Brother EDEN Douglas
sound-mind-and-music magazine online

I just 'discovered' VINNIE JAMES this week and I will be first to say, 'shame on me' for not being even more plugged in to have heard this incredible artist's work, before 'his invite' to listen to his artistry. So, this review is redundant in the sense that he's got quite a following, but in the strange universe that there's another soul, like me, that didn't know of his philantrophic and political musings in some of the most provocative lyric writing I've heard (since last weeks' Derek Kehler) this week, all sang with an intensity and played with the adept skill of a troubadoor. I'm sure there's much press about his 'race' and how that plays into the marketing of his music, but in the end, .he's just really good at what he does. BLACK MONEY is a video on his page, and his bio will speak volumes of the 'who's who' that he's worked and toured with.., so just go get filled up to overflowing with the talented Vinnie James and join in the long list of fans and supporters he's garnered through hard work, preseverance and pride in his craft. While there, give a listen to HOMELESS MAN for a truly unique approach on a timeless subject.
............................................... - sound-mind-and-music magazine

"Astonishing Songwriter"

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"To start the evening off, we were treated to a set from Vinnie James. Currently staying in Glasgow, this astonishing songwriter from New Jersey, showed us why there's so much 'chatter' about him recently. Definitely one to look out for. " -Jim McKenna, '07 Glasgow Festival of Songwriting
............................................... - Glasgow Festival of Songwriting

"A Commanding Stage Persona"

"Vinnie James... accompanied only by his acoutic guitar, turned in a strong nine-song, half-hour set, offering topic-heavy songs dealing with such themes as racism and drug abuse... he has a commanding stage persona."
............................................... - Orange County Register

"An exceptional singer/songwriter"

"Opening for Carole King was Vinnie James, an exceptional singer/songwriter whose music can best be compared to Don Henley's, Marvin Gaye's and Billy Falcon's. James' blues-style singing and guitar playing, as well as his superb showmanship, were a delightful prelude to a wonderful evening. "
............................................... - Richmond Times-Dispatch

"has a folk edge and fits squarely in the singer-songwriter tradition of Springsteen, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and John Hiatt"

"His socially conscious rock, produced by Thom Panunzio (Iggy Pop, Jeff Healey, Joan Jett), has a folk edge and fits squarely in the singer-songwriter tradition of Springsteen, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and John Hiatt. "
............................................... - Orange County Register


Songs for the Long Journey (Released Feb. 14, 2007)
All American Boy (Cypress/RCA/BMG)
Rubber Sole Compilation (Feat. Vinnie's "Save the World")
Musician Magazine "A Little on the CD Side Vol 7" (Feat. Vinnie's "Save the World").
Album Network Rock Tuneup #71 (Feat. Vinnie's Hey Geronimo).
Voices That Care (Warner Brothers)
WarSong (Special EP Release - RCA/BMG)
Antiqua (RCA/BMG - Pending Release)
Storm (Frontline/Graceland/Benson)



Feeling a bit camera shy


The Vinnie James Bio


David Wilde, of Rolling Stone, calls Vinnie James, " extremely penetrating new voice..." And Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times, hails Vinnie's music as, "full of fire and in your face passion."

Educated on the streets of Newark, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, Vinnie James is part Native American, part African, and 100% fire and street-wise passion. And you'd never guess from his humble attitude, that this ex-homeless man is now being hailed by critics as one of the most relevant songwriters of this generation, having already gained widespread acclaim, a charting single, a Grammy nomination for his RCA debut, "All American Boy," and major shows and tours with Sade, Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, Pam Tillis, STYX, Julia Fordham, and Carole King, who invited Vinnie back to the stage each night of the tour, to join her in a show-stopping rendition of her legendary song: "Locomotion."

Vinnie's music is the classic "Jersey Shore Sound," made popular by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, along with Little Steven Van Zandt and Southside Johnny (both of whom James has worked with). Like his legendary contemporaries, at the center of Vinnie's sound, is his raw, dusky vocal style, described by the Los Angeles Times as, "a husky, soul-tinged voice that recalls Graham Parker or Bob Seger..." and that, "...bristles with vigor, alarm and a prophet's conviction..."

"My vocal style comes from New Jersey summer nights, haunted by the sounds of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge" reflects James, lounging in the incense cloud of the studio control room. "My main lyrical influences are Jackson Browne, Mickey Newbury, and Marvin Gaye, along with poets like Khalil Gibran and Robert Frost." He takes a puff from his hand-rolled cigarette, then continues, "...but when it comes to my percussive acoustic guitar technique, I'd have to say, my biggest influence is Richie Havens, no question."

"Some would call my sound Roots or Americana," says James, picking up his Taylor guitar. He breaks into the "shika, shika" percussive strumming style that's become his trademark, flashes his infectious, "naughty-boy" grin, and adds, "...I call it, 'a patchouli-scented, love-powered acoustic jackhammer,'" he chuckles, and adds, "I also call it 'folk n soul,' which basically takes a raw, funky, grassroots folk style, and infuses it with influences from blues, hip-hop, gospel, and above all... 60's soul."

Described as "a master wordsmith," by Maxine Jewett, President of the Southwest Acoustic Music Association, Vinnie James pens songs that take you from deeply moving lyrical journeys, to powerfully raw, full-blown acoustic-based grinders, pulsating with hypnotic, tribal rhythms, complete with drums, bass and world instruments, all laced with Vinnie's soulful vocals and his signature "acoustic jackhammer" guitar playing.

Jim McKenna, who heads the Glasgow Festival of Songwriting, calls Vinnie James, an "astonishing songwriter," who's songs explore themes ranging from political injustice and social revolution, to love, lust and tragic loss; all written with intricate, well-crafted poetic images, showing a refreshing vulnerability and "old-soul" character.

Gil Griffin of the Washington Post, says of Vinnie James, "...his writing exhibits a developed, analytical (and self-analytical) maturity." Cary Darling of the Orange County Register adds that Vinnie's music, "has a folk edge and fits squarely in the singer-songwriter tradition of Springsteen, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and John Hiatt."

"It's such an honor that so many new people are discovering my songs, and are so moved and inspired by them," James says, of his growing worldwide acclaim. "When I write, I'm really just trying to make sense of this complicated, and sometimes scary world. I think people are drawn to my songs because they're feeling a lot of the same emotions I'm expressing in words, and the songs help them find an outlet and a path of expression for those emotions."

Record industry icon David Geffen once called Vinnie James, "a distinctive multi-threat talent." Vinnie's newest offering, "Songs for the Long Journey," is the long-awaited follow-up to his acclaimed RCA/BMG debut. As you would expect from a songwriter of this caliber, "Songs for the Long Journey" is a rewarding showcase of talent, where Vinnie's vocal and lyrical skills, along with his signature percussive style of playing the acoustic guitar, are as powerful and evident as ever, and the critics are ecstatic.

In his extensive and glowing review of James' new album, written for the well-respected online Americana magazine, Jim Pipkin declares: "...If this CD had already been released, it would have easily made my Top Ten for 2006. I would be very surprised if it doesn't make the cut for 2007."

Additionally, Maxine Jewett, President of the Prestigious South