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SHAWN JAMES + Fever Feel
Appearing Live at Moes Alley
Sunday, March 10th
Americana/Blues/Folk
9:00 PM, Doors Open 8:30 PM, $10 Advance, $13 Day Of Show,

Moe's Alley proudly presents the debut performance of Shawn James & special guests Fever Feel.

Shawn James’ voice is a force of nature, a musical preacher to a flock that accepts

everyone, a combination of the gospel choirs he sang with as a youngster and his

training in classical music and opera. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago,

James’ timeless sound is steeped in blues legends like Robert Johnson and Son

House, forever at the crossroads of damnation and redemption, the two inextricably

woven into the fabric of his songs.

 

The Dark & the Light, his first album for L.A.-based indie label Parts + Labor Records,

marks a creative leap forward for the 32-year-old troubadour. James annually tours

more than 150 dates around the world and has released some 70 songs over the past

five years, both on his own and as part of his “more raucous, rock” band the

Shapeshifters, a loose group of musicians formed in Fayetteville, AR, which served as

his temporary home before a recent move to the west coast.

 

Transcending any and all genres, James’ songs speak as much to these tremulous

times as they do the eternal human condition. Steeped in mythology (the fearsome a

cappella which opens “Orpheus”) and America’s dark past (the deep delta blues of

“Burn the Witch”), The Dark & the Light seeks to turn despair into hope – as he does on

the two-part tribute to his steel-worker father on “Love Will Find a Way I” and “Love Will

Find a Way II.” Shawn’s father died an alcoholic when he was five and the two songs

feature a journey from the depths of despair to the heights of ecstatic communion.

Shawn sings, “The blood that filled his veins flows through mine/It’s not that I’m

ashamed but how can I redefine how your story ends.”

 

“The record’s about turning the darkness and pain I’ve experienced in my life into songs

that can inspire others to make the best of hard times,” he says.

Recorded at his new label’s Venice Beach, CA, recording studio with producer Jimmy

Messer (AWOLNation, Kelly Clarkson, Kygo, The White Buffalo), the songs for the new

album were written by James while back in Chicago.

 

“I’ve discovered how to get to the point quicker, to do more with less,” explains James

about how his songwriting has evolved. “I’m confident enough now to make my music

more accessible without losing its integrity and honesty.”

 

Songs like the Memphis soul of “There It Is,” which vows to counteract bad deeds with

good work and the deep blues of “Haunted,” about moving on despite the injustice

around us, both tackle the current volatile cultural climate without mentioning names or

taking sides.

 

“For a long time, I wouldn’t mix music and politics, but I reached the point where I

realized I shouldn’t be ashamed for speaking up,” Shawn says. “All the craziness is

what inspired me to speak up, to try to live a moral life in spite of it.”

 

In “The Weak End” and “The Curse of the Fold,” James urges us to embrace our

vulnerability in the midst of those who would take advantage, urging us never to give up,

to keep going, and not just turn our cards over.

 

“Without music, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now,” admits Shawn. “I

was lucky I had something to bleed into, to cope with the struggles of my everyday life.”

After James’ father died, his Greek stepfather introduced him to the Pentecostal church,

where his vocal talent was recognized immediately and put to use in the choir. A child

prodigy, Shawn entered a number of vocal competitions, with a multi-octave range that

makes him unique as an artist. He didn’t start playing acoustic guitar until high school

and didn’t start writing songs seriously until he was in his mid-twenties. Studying

classical music helped him hone his vocal technique, but he learned to let loose

emotionally in church. “I had the mix of both worlds,” he says.

 

Much of those ministers’ fiery rhetoric resonated with James, whose music offers a

congregation with no borders or boundaries. “I’ve found that my songs with the biggest

impact are the ones that inspire people, and try to lift them up,” he says. “Fans tell me

how these songs saved their lives. Is there any greater accomplishment than that? I

fully embraced that on this album. These days, people need encouragement, and I just

wanted to contribute.”

 

The new album is James’ fourth solo effort, following his 2012 debut, Shadows , 2014’s

Deliverance and 2016’s On the Shoulders of Giants , in addition to a live release ( Live at the Heartbreak House ) and a two-song covers EP recorded while on tour in Madrid

(including set staples “That’s Life” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”). His songs have been

featured on HBO, CBS and Sony Playstation’s The Last of Us 2 videogame, with the

track, “Through the Valley,” topping Spotify’s Global Viral Charts, while generating more

than 60 million streams combined on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. More recently,

he recorded a soulful take on Macy Gray’s Grammy-winning “I Try” for Grammy.com’s

“Grammy Reimagined” series.

 

Shawn maintains a busy slate of performances in the U.S. and abroad. “I love touring

because I want to earn what I get, work for it every day,” says Shawn, admitting that’s

the hard-hat blue-collar attitude he inherited from his biological dad. “I enjoy the struggle

because that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

 

“I enjoy meeting and talking to new people. I don’t hide in the green room before and

after the show. I’m out there shaking hands, pressing the flesh, and hearing their

stories. That’s the reason we do this.”

 

Pointing to “authentic” performers like Tom Waits (“He has an impeccable ‘no bullshit’

compass”), soul singers like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke or Bill Withers, and the old blues

icons who inspired him, James explains, “They weren’t precious about what they did;

they didn’t put themselves on a pedestal. I want my music to be respected, but I’ll still

sit down at the bar to have a beer with you. My goal is to make music that stands the

test of time.”

 

With The Dark & the Light, Shawn James has done just that. He has flipped the script,

moving from darkness to light on the strength of song.

 

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