James Reams family heritage is rooted in southeastern Kentucky where he comes from a long line of traditional singers. He grew up playing both old-time and bluegrass music, and spent much time as a young adult playing all over the eastern seaboard. When James’ mother fell ill, he moved west to care for her. Subsequently, he made new musician friends and eventually formed a west coast version of his band, The Barnstormers. “I was always fascinated by the story of Earl Taylor, who would do sort of the same thing,” James recalled. “It works great for logistics, expenses, etc. We even cut an album a few years ago, using musicians from both coasts.”
James Reams and the Barnstomers have released nine CD projects to date, and were nominated as Emerging Artist of the Year in 2002 by the IBMA. In 2011 their album, One Foot in the Honky-Tonk, landed on two top-ten lists, and the single, “Almost Hear The Blues,” charted nationally.
James is known as an ambassador of Bluegrass for his dedication to, and deep involvement in, the thriving bluegrass and Americana music community. To that end, a documentary released in 2013, Making History With The Pioneers Of Bluegrass, James featured priceless interviews with pioneers and legends of the bluegrass industry that he had collected through the years.
The latest chapter in James’ career features a bio-documentary about his life and career. “At first when they approached me about making the film I thought, ‘nobody knows who the heck James Reams is, but that’s actually part of the story,” he said recently. “A guy like me can make music close to 30 years, make a film with pioneers, and have a career doing something I love – the film is hopefully inspirational for folks who may be passionate about something like that too, but may not have had all the breaks.”
The film, Like A Flowing River: A Bluegrass Passage, released mid-August of 2020. It is as much a story of hope as it is a musician’s tale. It’s a film for all who are carried along on the sometimes peaceful and other times, raging river that is bluegrass.
Lear more about James at www.jamesreams.com. Listen to the full interview here.