Award winning blues guitarist James Howard has been in love with playing music since the age of five, when he picked up his first instrument, a set of bongos.
Howard played his first professional gig at fifteen and has honed his talent and developed his career as a blues, rock and acoustic guitarist, composer, vocalist, bandleader and recording session side man of choice for over thirty three years in clubs, festivals and recording studios from his native San Francisco, California to his current home in Seattle, Washington.
He grew up playing house parties with legendary bassist Cliff Burton and has opened for artists including Robin Trower, John Waite, UFO and Greg Kihn. Recently Howard played with drummer Dave Weckl and bassist Melvin Lee Davis in Big Fork Montana as the winner in the blues category for the Yamaha six string theory international guitar competition.
Over the years, Howard has garnered numerous fans with his dynamic, expressive playing, his thrilling, dexterous technical skill and his casual, gracious manner on stage, consistently playing to sold out houses, from B.B. King's Blues Club in Hollywood, to the Highway 99 Blues Club, in Seattle, where he has been playing a regular, popular gig with his band for the last four years.
Howard's eclectic musical tastes span blues, rock, jazz, Latin, acoustic folk and country. He also has a strong interest in mysticism and spirituality. One can hear all these influences hybridized in his music and lyrics, giving him his own unique, compelling sound and style.
Howard is dedicated to serving the community through his music by teaching guitar and playing as lead-guitarist in the house band at the Center for Spiritual Living, in Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Tonja.
2011 was an thrilling year for Howard not only for winning the "Six String Theory" Award for "Best Blues Guitarist" but he also released his third album, "L!VE in Seattle - Volume I" on Laughing Man Records.
James Howard commented, "I have had the opportunity to perform with some of the best musicians in the Northwest and I wanted to record some of the pieces that have inspired me most. This is the first of what will be a three CD set of live music recorded in Seattle venues".
The CD features eight tracks including five of Howard's originals and his arrangements of three classic blues standards, with his regular quartet, The James Howard Band, with Howard (electric and acoustic guitars and vocals), David Close (keyboards), Jeff Tolbert (bass) and Andrew Rishikof (drums).
The album ebbs and flows in a variety of moods from the funky, feel good, New Orleans' second- line style "Rhythm and Blues" (Howard), the sultry "Rain" (Howard), blistering guitar solos and lush organ on "Path of the Mystic" (Howard), Howard's more reflective side, shown on "Chasing Moonbeams" (Howard) and "The Greatest Love" (Howard) and Howard's soaring, no holds barred arrangements of iconic blues compositions, "Europa" (C. Santana, T. Coster), "Pride and Joy" (S.R. Vaughan) and "House of the Rising Sun" (traditional folk, unknown author).
This album has the distinction of having been completely funded by Howard's loyal fans through the internet based Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) program which helps artists to network financial support from the public for their projects.
About Lee Ritenour's Yamaha "Six String Theory"
Guitar Workshop and Awards:
Legendary Jazz guitarist, Lee Ritenour, in association with sponsors, Yamaha Corporation, Concord Music Group, Monster Cable, National Guitar Workshop, Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation and D'Addario Strings, just presented the second annual Six String Theory Workshops and Finalist Awards, for 2011, to top guitarists in Blues, Classical/Flamenco, Acoustic, Jazz/Fusion, Rock and Country. Six semi-finalists in each genre were chosen from a large field of international applicants.
One week, all expense paid workshops were presented around the U.S. for the semi-finalists, each genre in a different location. In the Blues Guitar workshop, in New Milford, Connecticut, in July 2011, Howard studied with world-class musicians/instructors including, Ronnie Earl and David Bromberg.
A final winner was awarded in each category, from the six workshops. James Howard (Seattle, WA) won "Best Blues Guitarist". The other winners include: Leon Gropp (South Africa) Classical/Flamenco; Cory Sterling (New York, N.Y.) Jazz/Fusion; David Browne-Murray (United Kingdom) Acoustic; Fabrizio Zambuto (Italy) Rock and John Huldt (Santa Monica, CA) Country.
These six final winners attended a week-long workshop and festival at the four star Flathead Lake Lodge, in Bigfork, Montana, with instructors Lee Ritenour, Joe Bonamassa and Steve Lukather and performed with back up band Melvin Lee Davis, on bass, and Dave Weckl, on drums. James was awarded over $10,000 in prizes and scholarships including a Yamaha guitar and Yamaha guitar endorsement.
You can also find James Howard on the following social networking sites: