James Lee Baker
James Lee is a Folk and Americana Singer-Songwriter originally from Texas. A classically trained musician, he is known for his use of opening tuning to create a unique sound that audiences loves. In 2017, Baker released a Texas-inspired full-length project called "Home Again." Harnessing his experience in technology, Baker recruited talented studio session musicians using the new platform Fiverr.com, accessing performers from Los Angeles, Canada, The United Kingdom and Denver.
"Home Again" is a Country-flavored Americana album, rich with instrumentation like dobro, lap steel, fiddle, and harmonica. In March, he released an EP of Folk/Americana songs called "The Canadian River." The single of the same title placed #23 on the FolkDJ radio charts in April of 2018 and the song Two Cageless Birds went on to be selected for the John O’Hara Songwriting Performance Grant. James has played at several prominent venues including the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, The Fox Theater in Boulder and Swallow Hill and The Walnut Room in Denver. Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. Not anyone in particular. I began writing poetry as a teenager; I found it to be a cathartic way to express my angst. Being raised in a musical family, the blending in of poetry with song came very naturally for me as I got older. I certainly was influenced by many acoustic artists as well.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
It had to have been when I was contacted by a friend who let me know they heard my song playing on a radio station in New York City.
What has been the high point of your music path? Several shows really stick out as a high point for me - The Depot in Norman, Oklahoma, Swallow Hill in Denver, and a house concert in Denver. All great shows with many active listeners.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I start with an idea and flesh out the lyrics in meter form before decorating them with music.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Organic exposure is a hot commodity in the music industry. Anyone can pay for plays but it takes truly getting good music in front of active listeners to build a following and many indie artists are suffocating trying to obtain that. Unfortunately, we have yet to innovate a new way to generate revenue in the music industry that makes this an industry worth investing in. Artists are making music because they enjoy it, not because it is profitable.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Probably Gregory Alan Isakov. I enjoy his style, the intimacy he brings to a venue, and the audiences he attracts. That and he's a stellar writer.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I typically practice my songs in front of a mirror and massage any areas needing more focus than others.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
The Last Cowboy of Hutchinson County is a song that will be released next year, hopefully. This song was difficult to write because I needed to employ method acting concepts to truly understand the characters in the song and their plights.
What's coming up in the future?
I need to write 5-7 more songs for the next LP so i'll be spending 2019 doing that. I'll head into the studio in Q1 and will hopefully be working with some prominent session artists in the industry. I am working on getting some high-quality acoustic music videos produced early next year.
Tell us where fans can access your music?