James Reams & The Barnstormers, featuring Blaine Sprouse on fiddle, will be appearing at the Durango Meltdown on April 19th and 20th along with Larry Gillis and Hard-Driving Swampgrass. A bluegrass band that was nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2002 as Emerging Artist of the Year, James Reams & The Barnstormers provide a contemporary take on traditional bluegrass; blending it with innovation and vitality to create their own branch on the “roots” tree. In a review of an early album by James Reams, fRoots (an international magazine that specializes in world music) declared, “Traditional music kept alive by a stylish performer… Powerful, emotional music that needs to be heard.”
The festival is being held in the nationally registered historic district of Durango, the gem of southwest Colorado. Two performances will be held in the world-renowned Henry Strater Theatre, one of the oldest and most prestigious continually running theatres in Colorado; the other two performances will be at the Durango Arts Center. Tickets are available through the Durango Meltdown website.
This is a great opportunity to see this nationally known iconic bluegrass band playing with legendary bluegrass fiddler, Blaine Sprouse while enjoying the surrounding beauty from the red sandstone bluffs of the Animas River Valley to the jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains.
Here’s how the band is described by noted bluegrass authority Stephanie P. Ledgin in her book, Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass (Praeger Publishers, 2004): “A plentiful selection of younger, emerging artists continues to grow in both traditional as well as progressive bluegrass camps. James Reams & The Barnstormers rely on early country material and originals written in authentic style. The results are a virtual history of the music and its roots, played in a clean, heartfelt manner that is somewhere between Bill Monroe’s and the Stanley Brothers’.”
Their latest CD, One Foot in the Honky Tonk, made two Top Ten CDs of 2011 lists and had a single that charted nationally. Here are some reviews of their most recent CD (One Foot in the Honky Tonk):
In honor of the band’s 20th anniversary, their Barnstormin' album is now available as a FREE download from www.NoiseTrade.com/jamesreams. John Lupton, of Country Standard Time, wrote this about the album: “The music on this disc features elements reminiscent of the sophisticated stylings of fellow Kentuckian Bill Monroe mixed with the old time, deep-hollow sound of the Stanley Brothers...This is hard-core bluegrass from down home.” The band’s next album — James Reams, Walter Hensley & The Barons of Bluegrass — was nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2002 as a Recorded Event of the Year.
Raised in eastern Kentucky but now living in Phoenix, James Reams puts a layer of desert grit over a solid base of traditional bluegrass music. His band treads the terrain where bluegrass, old-time, classic country and rockabilly meet in the night to swap stories. These are the sounds of the hills and hollers combined with the sounds of factories, railroad yards and honky tonks.
The Durango Meltdown is held in historic downtown Durango just a short drive from the famous Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. The festival is headquartered at the world-famous Strater Hotel on 699 Main Avenue. Tickets and lodging information are available on the website for the Durango Meltdown.
James Reams - lead vocals and guitar. James formed the Barnstormers in 1993. Coming from a family of traditional singers in southeastern Kentucky, James has played both old-time and bluegrass music since he was just a little sprout. Known as an “Ambassador of Bluegrass”, James is dedicated to and deeply involved in the thriving bluegrass and Americana music community. To date, he has released eight CDs including a special DVD documentary of the band.
Blaine Sprouse - fiddle. James is pleased to feature the world-class fiddling of Blaine Sprouse at selected venues on the west coast. Much in demand as a performer and session player, Blaine performed on the Grand Ole Opry for over 15 years. He has toured nationally and internationally and recorded with a stunning array of legendary bluegrass and country artists, among them, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys, Charlie Louvin, Randy Travis, and the Osborne Brothers.
Billy Parker - mandolin and harmony vocals. Billy brings passion and style to every set. He was heavily influenced by, and has even played next to, bluegrass legends and mandolin masters Bill Monroe and David Grisman! Fast, clean and unflappable, Billy has developed a confident and spirited approach to seamlessly move between the rapid-fire bluegrass tunes and more soulful melodies. His sense of band dynamics helps propel the music to a higher sound to the delight of audiences everywhere he plays.
Tyler James - banjo and harmony vocals. Known for his tasteful, exciting licks and solid tone, Tyler has won numerous banjo contests including the 2008 Rockygrass competition championship, the 2010 Huck Finn Festival Banjo championship as well finishing in the top 5 in the Walnut Valley National Banjo Championship.
Ted Sistrunk - upright bass. Holding down the bottom for the Barnstormers with his rock steady and intuitive bass stylings, Ted always brings his ear for melodic lines and a solid fat groove. He has studied under some of the best bassists in the US.