14 min read

Jazz piano legend Bob James, still on the road after 76 years

The launch of Wicked Messenger has afforded me the rare opportunity to rediscover many interesting conversations I've had with all manner of creative individuals over the past few decades. And, to revise them for a new audience.
Jazz piano legend Bob James, still on the road after 76 years
Bob James

For the past few weeks, I have been up in Baltimore on family matters. As a result, my social media feed and online searches have lately been packed with notices and pitches related to my current environment. That’s how I came across an ad for an upcoming live gig by none other than famed jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader Bob James.

He’s playing on April 16 at Rams Head On Stage, a beautiful and storied 500-seat showcase venue in Annapolis, Md., about an hour’s drive from my brother’s funky row house in Baltimore’s historic Waverly neighborhood. It’s a sweet place for an artist of James’ stature to perform ― especially at this stage of their career. The club is small enough to feel like an intimate affair to the audience, but still large enough to boast a top-notch stage and professional sound and lighting gear. Plus, it holds just enough patrons to offer the chance at a significant box office haul to a cat of his pedigree.

In all candor, I was a bit surprised to see that James was still touring, as his first paying gig was at the age of eight (seriously), and he’s 84 now. I suppose, however, that should not be surprising, as the complete and utter decimation of the entire business model of the recorded music industry has resulted in a dreadful situation for players of his age. Artists who might have wished to have retired long ago from the rigors of the road cannot do so, lest they almost immediately lapse into financial insolvency.

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