Virtuoso guitarist who’s played with the best comes to Rugby

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GUITARIST John James will be performing to Rugby as part of the town’s first ever festival of culture.

James is a virtuoso fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter, best known for his original instrumental compositions for the guitar as well as interpretations of blues, folk, ragtime, jazz and classical tunes.

James learned the rudiments of music at the piano, switching to the guitar at the age of 12. Initially he learnt his craft playing in pop and R&B bands but later focused on solo acoustic guitar work. He first made a name for himself in the folk clubs of the UK around 1968, playing arrangements of old blues, jazz and ragtime tunes.

He recorded several albums in the early 70s including a groundbreaking album of duets with fellow guitarist Pete Berryman called Sky in My Pie. He also became the first guitarist in the UK to arrange and record the music of Scott Joplin. In the mid 1970s he was signed up by Kicking Mule records and in 1976 released an album of original fingerpicking guitar solos and duets called Descriptive Guitar Instrumentals. This also featured fellow guitarists John Renbourn and Duck Baker.

James has recorded more than 15 albums and toured extensively, playing with artists as diverse as Jools Holland, Ralph McTell, John Renbourn, John Martyn and Led Zeppelin. He has performed at many prestigious venues across Europe.

He is now preparing to play at Lawrence Sheriff School on Friday, July 8 as part of the Rugby Festival of Culture.

Andy Smith of Rugby’s Sounds Music, which is co-organising the event with Rugby Roots, said: “We wanted to book someone who would not only appeal to guitarists in the audience, but an act that could also entertain the ‘non’ musos.

John is undoubtedly one of, if not the best fingerstyle guitarist this country has ever produced and his warmth and renowned wit are guaranteed to leave the audience not only inspired but also with a smile on their faces.”

For tickets visit or pay on the door. 7.15pm start.