We think James Riley deserved his spot supporting Martin Simpson at the Goose in 2012 purely on account of his chutzpah in turning up at the Mag and nonchalantly performing Seven Black Roses (a la early John Martyn) for his first tune!
But we’ve heard more of him since then and – obviously – we still think he deserved the spot! If you saw him we’re sure you’ll agree! He played with his band that night, and they were all great! James has also played on the Goose stage at the Dulwich Festival Fair on Goose Green.
Then he went to live in the States, but he returned to support Dick Gaughan at The Ivy House in 2014, which he told us was an ambition of his – hey, your wish is our command, James! Well, within reason ……
Here’s the blurb:
With one hand scribbling lyrics onto the back of a roadmap, 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, sewn through ethereal, almost hymn-like ballads of love and life.
Already a seasoned performer at 24 (well, he’s a bit older than that now but we can’t remember how much :D), James has turned heads the world over, earning him spots on the same bill as blues legend Buddy Guy in Chicago. After recently returning from busking and hitchhiking his way from Amsterdam to Istanbul, James has been pedalling his unique class of pulsing, brazenly catchy acoustica throughout London and the South East, steadily gathering a word-of-mouth buzz in his wake.
Accompanied live by vocalist Stephanie Singer and cellist Danny Pagarani, not to mention Kitty Cassette, a spoons-player extraordinaire, The James Riley Band have built up a reputation for spirited live shows, consisting of what SuperGlad Records calls: “joyously melodic uptempo folk stomp-alongs … mixed with contemplative ballads, all delivered with brilliant technique”.
After pausing to record his debut EP in October 2011, James is soon to be back on the road with a slew of festival dates emerging for the summer of 2012, and a UK tour planned later in the year. But adventure is never far off, and this spring James also plans to take his music around Ireland… on horseback.
Keep an eye on James Riley, we have a feeling his name will be around for a long time …..
Well we wrote that around 2012, and here’s the update:
Anglo-American and raised in London, James followed his roots back to Nashville in 2015 for a short trip – which ended up becoming a 2-year odyssey. Whilst in Tennessee he met Grammy-winning producer Matthew Odmark, and recorded his debut album “Transatlantica”.
Since returning to the UK, James has been building towards his the release of his new record, putting out teaser singles, creating cinematic music videos, and through a slew of live shows and festivals including Glastonbury, Wilderness, Shrewsbury Folk & Maverick, slow-burning his way towards national notoriety– and heads have indeed begun turning. The past 18 months have seen James nominated for no fewer than 4 awards – as well as yielding national TV and radio coverage, and international tours on both sides of the Atlantic.
The start of 2019 marks the threshold of an exciting new chapter for this transatlantic songsmith, and a long-awaited opportunity to share with the world the fruits of a hard-won musical journey – and one that seems ready hit its stride over the next twelve months.
Kev Jones, Bear’s Den/Communion
Ear To The Ground Music
“Awesome… like the Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions”
“We are in awe of the sheer beauty and lyrical capacity”
Wolf In A Suit
“One of my highlights of the year”
Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3
“There’s no one else quite like him out there”
Tshepo Mokwena, UK Editor, Noisey Magazine
“It hooked us on first listen…from the harmonies to the guitar work there’s nothing to not like”
Folk Radio UK
“Riley writes with a deftness often reserved for musicians twice his age”
“James Riley won’t be one of the best kept secrets on the London folk scene for much longer”
For Folk’s Sake
Coffee Music Project 2018
: 2nd Place
RSD Unsigned: Finalist 2018
Fender Undiscovered Artist of the Year Finalist 2017
Salute Top 100 Music Makers Shortlist 2017
Folk Alliance International Official Showcase Artist 2016
Winner of the Mayor of London: Gigs Competition 2012