Natasha James is known for taking Roots music styles, turning them on their head, combining them, and coming out with tunes that are completely unique but totally familiar at the same time.
On her debut album, Bad Judgements, she had the pleasure of working and recording with old friend and monster sax player, Martin Fierro (Thelonius Monk, Jerry Garcia, Zero) and renowned keyboardist Austin Delone, among other stellar talents. That CD launched the hit single, "The Restless Kind," (#10, ACQB), and got her music compared to Van Morrison (Americana Media Guide, Aug 2008) and her voice to Janis Joplin crossed with Joan Baez (Music Connection).
Tequila Time, the latest release from this prolific troubadour from Northern California, finds her once again pushing the edges of the Roots Americana movement, and upping the rock ante. Natasha James once again has some stellar musicians in her line-up. They recorded 17 songs in 4 days, including getting tones, she said on KRCB in an interview and live performance this month (Mindy's Mix, KRCB, 91.1 FM, Rohnert Park, CA). Players include Dave Aguilar (Norton Buffalo), with whom she did a duet that night, Ian Lamson (Elvin Bishop), Steve Evans (Coco Montoya, Elvin Bishop), Herman Eberitzsch (Malo, Lee Oskar), and Woody Vermeire (Commander Cody), all engineered by Ronnie Rivera, who also plays the drums in this stellar line-up.
This band gets people up on their feet from rock, country, bluegrass and blues persuasions, all knocked out by the originality of the tunes and the quality of James' voice; at times like Bonnie Raitt, at times like Janis Joplin and Emmylou Harris (Music Connection). We saw kids as young as 15 outside a club stop and stare in at the windows, swaying to a James' original! While the record is great, the live performance is where this band shines...these guys are players, and it shows.
Tequila Time debuted on the Roots Charts at #20 in the country, #19 in the state and #23 internationally. Not bad for a sophomore record.
Natasha James has just been officially nominated in the "Country Artist of the Year" category for the 20th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards....taking place in November at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif. Natasha won "Country Album of the Year" last year at the 2009 L.A. Music Awards for Tequila Time.
What brought you to music in the first place?
It was all that I wanted to do since I was about 4 years old. I would listen and sing along to old Bessie Smith recordings, Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Lovin Spoonful, Bobbi Gentry, Roger Miller...
Describe your music- what's the mission behind the music?
I think Eric Habadian of MUSIC CONNECTION described it best. He called it "country steeped in blues and tex mex...cinematic vignettes with poetic lyricism". I like that. I don't know if there is a mission behind my music. Music is a catharsis for me, as any creative process is, I think. I write about what is concerning me at the time which has usually turned out to be foreshadowing. Sometimes it is about people and the way they treat each other, the current state of our society, a character driven song; sometimes it is about emotions I am going through, and sometimes it's about a melody or rhythm that just won't let go of me till I get it down.
What might people be surprised to find out about you?
I'm not sure I can answer what would surprise other people. I am always amazed by what shocks other people and also what seems ok to them.
What kind of music are you listening to? What's in your iPod?
I don't have an IPod. When I am in Nevada, I love the Coffeehouse Rock Channel on Charter (TV). I listen to lots of different music depending on my mood, from the Allman Bros to Nancy Griffith, Sonia Dada to Tim & Mollie O'Brien. I like eclectic, intelligent music with lyrical content and melodic interest, and of course a kick ass percussive element!
If you had a crystal ball and looked forward five years, what do you see for yourself?
In the context of? If we are talking music, that is a loaded question. I will always be singing, playing and writing, that is what I do. Hopefully, I will be able to share alot of my work with people and they will get something out of it. June Carter Cash said it so well, "I'm just trying to matter."