Worth The Wait

Worth The Wait

Rocker returns to Winslow, debuts album



Brad James’ return to the Winfest Music Festival is noteworthy for more than just the fact that it’s been 22 years since the Red Dirt-influenced rocker played at the festival. Sept. 21 will be James’ first visit to Winslow with his own outfit, the Brad James Band; the performance comes on the heels of the release of his debut album; and he holds a particular fondness for the festival.

“One of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever played was when we got to play Winfest in the ’90s, with our band right in between the Cate Brothers Band and Zero,” James recalls. “It was just a magical afternoon to get to play right in between those bands and hang out with all those guys. It’s been a great memory and watermark in my mind.”

James returns for the festival’s 37th year with the band he started nearly a decade ago. The consummate side man has been a force in the Tulsa music scene for more than 30 years — and played Fayetteville more times than he can count with names like Stoney LaRue, Isayah’s All Stars and Jesse Dean and Company.

Always focused on the live show, where he could experience the audience reaction, James was hesitant to get in the studio for a long time. It was the encouragement from friends like fellow Tulsa artist Steve Aycock and advice from songwriter Ray Bonneville that changed James’ outlook.

“We were talking about how do I get back to writing, and Ray said, ‘Record your old songs. Get them out of your head, and it’ll create a lot of real estate in your mind,’” James reveals.

“And it was true. To start that recording process, it gets all the juices flowing, and it was actually real fun to record this time — and we were real pleased with the results.”

Those results are “At Fellowship Hall,” named for the Little Rock studio where James recorded the album. He chose the spot for its two-inch analog tape machine and the rich, warm sound the old-school equipment brought to the music.

“A lot of them are true story songs, so it was an emotional thing to try and get through all those songs and get them printed. It really felt like trying to write your book or your biography or the great American novel or something,” he says of the album’s flow.

“We try and structure the set list like a journey, too,” James adds of the live show. “It’s much more energetic than the album. We don’t want it just to be a listening experience. The Northwest Arkansas fans are really my favorite ones to play for anywhere in the world. People smiling and dancing — they want you to do good; they want to have a good time.”



Winfest Music Festival

WHEN — Noon Sept. 21

WHERE — Winslow Baseball Park

COST — $15-$20; kids younger than 10 free

INFO — winfestmusicfestival.com, bradjamesbandtulsa.com

FYI — The Brad James Band, Washboard Leo Thomas, headliner Ben Miller Band and more will perform.

Categories: Music