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James Reams & The Barnstormers

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Originally from Kentucky but now living in Phoenix, AZ, James Reams plays old-school bluegrass music. What do they teach you in bluegrass music’s Old School? The Three E’s of course: Keep it Edgy, Emotional and Exciting.


James Reams & The Barnstormers (jamesreams.com) tread the territory where bluegrass, old-time, classic country, honky tonk and rockabilly meet in the night to swap stories. From those subversive encounters, James Reams, has emerged with his own spin on traditional American music. James Reams formed James Reams & The Barnstormers in 1993 and celebrated 20 years as a bandleader in 2013 with a Coast-to-Coast Celebration tour. James and the band play traditional bluegrass music with an old-time country edge and a sound that’s very much his own. They feature driving rhythm and hard-edged harmonies that take you back to a time before bluegrass was smoothed out for the uninitiated, the ill-prepared or the faint of heart.

There were traditional singers on both sides of James’ family and his father played in a string band. Taking to music like a fish to water, James has played both old-time and bluegrass music since he was a child. Originally from southeastern Kentucky, the Reams family migrated north to Appleton, WI when James was in his mid-teens. He stayed in the midwest until he moved to Brooklyn, NY in the early 1980s and then headed west to a suburb of Phoenix, AZ in 2011.

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