Nathan James has created a musical identity with his homemade instruments and self-taught skills. He is a one-man band, pickin' and scratchin' on his invention of washboard guitar, stomping out time on his custom suitcase drum set, singing and blowing harmonica or kazoo. For 15 years now, he has successfully made his living touring and recording, solely specializing in his passion of blues, and American roots music. Starting his career as a full-time gigging musician at age 18, Nathan is no stranger to live performance.
Drawing from a deep well of influences from many early roots artists and styles, James was quickly attracted to the individuality of self-made music and artistic expression, while simultaneously discovering the guitar and the blues at age 13. Nathan James has since been in complete focus as to where his life goal would lead, growing up in the small town of Fallbrook California. Local San Diego blues band the "Blues Pharaohs" and Billy Watson gave Nathan a chance to get his feet wet with enough local gigs to support himself a month after graduating high school! This led to also working with well-known Southern California blues acts Jamie Wood, and Johnny Dyer. At age 19 Nathan got the call from internationally known blues veteran James Harman to join his band and tour the country. With Harman, he gained the experience that has shaped most of his career.
After touring and recording with Harma, Nathan decided to have a go at a solo career- that is playing one-man acoustic-based blues. This was instantly successful, leading to playing over 30 gigs a month at times!! With the strain of carrying the entire show by yourself all the time, Nathan met up with harmonica player/vocalist Ben Hernandez, a like-minded young blues roots musician aficionado, and together they started working as a duo. In 2007, they entered the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, and took 1st place and traveled to Denmark, Italy, and Taiwan. During his career, Nathan has worked with many well-known artists including Kim Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester, Johnny Dyer, Janiva Magness, Rick Holmstrom, Mark Hummel, and Gary Primich.
Currently, Nathan’s three-piece band is forging a cumulative sound that combines elements of 1920s acoustic blues, amplified juke joint hill country, and 1950s uptown blues mixed with 1960s soulful R&B. Influences range from Tampa Red, to B.B. King, to James Brown and the Famous Flames, Nathan will often go out solo from the bandstand and burst into a frenzied ragtime breakdown that can lead to a washboard solo on his custom LED lit 'Washtar Gitboard'
(Nathan James at Wilmington's Riverfront Blues Festival 2014)