Never one to follow convention, and always one to think for himself, Nathan James has created a musical identity with his homemade instruments and self-taught skills. Whether you catch Nathan as his true one-man band pickin’ and scratchin’ on his own invention of washboard guitar, stomping out time on his custom suitcase drum set while singing and blowing harmonica or kazoo; or leading his new trio, you are sure to be moved and impressed with the unique energy and soul that he possesses. Nathan James is a well-respected and experienced artist in his field. For nearly two decades now, he has successfully made his living touring and recording, solely specializing on his passion of blues and American roots music.
Starting his career as a full-time gigging musician at age eighteen, Nathan is no stranger to live performance. Local San Diego blues bands the Blues Pharaohs and Billy Watson gave Nathan a chance to get his feet wet with enough local gigs to support himself literally a month after graduating high school. This led to also working with well-known Southern California blues acts Jamie Wood and Johnny Dyer. At age nineteen, Nathan got the call from internationally renowned blues veteran, James Harman, to join his band and tour the country. Under Harman’s watchful eye is where Nathan gained the experience that has shaped most of his own career.
After touring and recording nonstop with Harman for 3 1/2 years, Nathan decided to have a go at literally a solo career – that is playing one-man, acoustic-based blues. This was instantly successful, leading to playing over thirty gigs a month at times. With the strain of always carrying the entire show himself, Nathan eventually teamed up with harmonica player/vocalist, Ben Hernandez, a like-minded young blues roots aficionado, and together they started working as a duo. In 2007, they entered the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, and took 1st place! Over the course of his career, Nathan has often worked with many other well-known artists including Kim Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester, Janiva Magness, Rick Holmstrom, Mark Hummel and Gary Primich.
On “What You Make of It”, his first-ever national release for Delta Groove Music, Nathan James & the Rhythm Scratchers have forged a cumulative sound that combines elements of 1920s acoustic blues, amplified juke joint hill country, and 1950s uptown blues mixed with 1960s soulful R&B. Influences range from Tampa Red, to B.B. King, to James Brown and the Famous Flames. With backing support provided by Troy Sandow (upright and Fender bass, harmonica) and Marty Dodson (drums), this is not your average blues power trio that leans towards the much abused “blues rock” formula. Instead each member in the band knows all the nuances of the different feels and tones, in addition to bringing with them an original and fresh, new energy that comes from musicians of a much younger generation. Add to the mix Nathan’s exclusive homemade instruments, including the Washtar Guitboard and Tri-Tar, plus a special guest appearance by the one and only James Harman, and you’ve got all the ingredients for one truly innovative and trailblazing American roots album that is destined to set the music world on its ear!