James Reams of James Reams & The Barnstormers will be celebrating his birthday this week. We hope you'll help him celebrate by playing his music in honor of his special day. This year also marks James' 20th anniversary as a bandleader! James Reams & The Barnstormers are touring coast-to-coast in honor of the occasion. In addition, the long awaited release of the DVD documentary, Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass: Tales of the Early Days in Their Own Words is expected to occur by mid-year.
As a special gift, James has released his CD Barnstormin' as a free download from Noise Trade. James Reams & The Barnstormers released this free digital version of their 2001 CD, Barnstormin’ as a thank you to fans throughout the 20 years that James Reams has been a bandleader.
James had this to say about the downloadable album, “I am so excited about all our plans for celebrating 20 years of playing bluegrass in 2013. Making this album available as a free download is a great way to kickoff our Coast-to-Coast tour. This album originally was released nationwide on a well-respected bluegrass label in 2001 and is now out of print so digital download was a great way to let people hear some of our music that they may have missed.”
The CD features several original songs including “Coal Dust in My Soul” written by James Reams which was used in the film “Wake Up West Virginia” about mountaintop removal. Other originals include the title track “Barnstormin’”, “The Cincinnati Southern”, “Dogwood Tree”, “Buffalo Creek Flood”, “Birch Brook Exit”, and “Kentucky River”.
The brainstorm of James Reams and his late partner, Tina Aridas, the DVD documentary Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass got started back in 2002 at the grand opening of the International Bluegrass Music Museum. This labor of love was shot with minimal equipment on tour buses, backstage before performances, and even on front porches. The plan was to make the viewer feel like they are sitting right there with these bluegrass greats just shooting the breeze.
It is with a sad heart that we learned of the passing of one of the Pioneers of Bluegrass that was interviewed for the documentary, Walter Hensley. Perhaps one of the greatest banjo pickers ever, Walter earned the nickname "Banjo Baron of Baltimore." If there was a roster of the most influential and innovative banjo players in bluegrass history, Walt would be on it. We feel fortunate to have preserved his memory and legacy on the DVD along with so many other legends of bluegrass.
The film includes behind the scenes interviews with Jimmy Martin, Melvin Goins, Kenny Baker, Bobby Osborne, Bill Yates, Curly Seckler and many others who helped create bluegrass music. Time after time, these pioneers stated that one man didn’t create this genre, it was born from the dedication of many old time musicians that took their licks and gave them right back again in the form of their music. Like Eddie Adcock so “eloquently” puts it in the film, “Most bluegrass musicians, even though we’re eating sardines and Vienna sausages, we always thought we’d make it someday.”
“Back when we were playing, we didn’t realize that we were making history, but we were.”
~ Art Stamper, from Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass.
Many of those interviewed volunteered words of wisdom for the up and coming bluegrass artists of the future, including J.D. Crowe’s sage advice “Go back and learn it from the start, learn where it came from, learn that first. That’s where it is. That’s where it all happens.”