Hailing from New York, Leif James embarked on a trek across the United States at the young age of 14. During this time of turmoil and adventure, James picked up a guitar and began to explore his own creativity in an effort to survive, playing street gigs, and later moving into the venue scene with a variety of other players.
Collecting uncommon and unique experiences, such as becoming a regular follower of the Grateful Dead and later Phish tours to exploring areas of the country that most will never see, James honed his style and voice. He listened, learned and quickly cultivated an appreciation for the myriad of inherent regional sounds he discovered on his travels. He developed the perspective of an old soul in his youth that is reflected in his songwriting.
Blending life experience and his own innate talent he created his unique sound that he describes as Dirty Folk. His sound has elements of the story of the people as told in the American Folk genre, the true grit and resolve as captured by artists like Bruce Springsteen, the deep emotional narrative from folks like Jason Isbell, with the rock edge of groups like The Black Crowes. James has the uncanny ability to blend what on the outside seem like disparate sounds into soulful songs that touch the heart and mind on many levels bringing together people from different walks of life and joining them in one sound that only Leif James can do.
His passion is powerfully translated into multifaceted compositions that are seamlessly communicated through his smoky voice and skillful performing. Whether in a small intimate setting or a festival stage, James delivers a memorable performance each time. There isn’t a show that goes by that he does not garner new fans and followers.
Always an active voice for the underdog and those experiencing struggle, his gift of music has allowed him the ability to give back for causes close to his heart, such as cancer, kids battling illness and regular folk fighting the good fight of life’s tumultuous ups and downs.
After many years living on the road James has settled, for the time being at least, in Central Oregon where he has become a prominent and sought out performer. When not touring, writing, or playing local gigs he can usually be found checking out live music or enjoying some well-deserved down time.