Blues News

Skip James – Blues Highlights

Skip James – Blues Highlights

Skip James – Blues Highlights.  Also known as Nehemiah James, is a Delta blues singer, guitar, and piano player. Furthermore, he does not truly become renowned until he’s rediscovered during the blues and folk revival scene of the 60s. James then becomes a sensation on the touring circuit.

Performing until his death in 1969. His music has influenced a wide range of musicians over the years, from Deep Purple and The Derek Trucks Band. Including the band Cream and Beck, but the most important impact is the one he made on Robert Johnson. 

Blues Style of Playing

His style of music is the American Delta Blues. Meanwhile, his weapons of choice (skills) were that he could sing, play guitar and piano as well as write his own songs. Something that could easily help him make a pretty decent living. His guitar playing is in a dark, minor-key sound, playing in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique. 

He learns to play piano and guitar in high school, and it wasn’t long before he was playing gigs at local dances and parties. In 1930 a Mississippi record-store owner heard him and arranges for him to record an album for Paramount Records at its studio in Grafton, WI. Unfortunately for James it was in the depths of the Depression, and the record didn’t sell. 

Gospel Group

Since the music business doesn’t quite work out, he moves to Dallas, TX. There he forms a gospel group called ‘The Dallas Jubilee Singers”, mainly as a backup group for his father’s preaching. James eventually becomes a preacher himself, and in 1932 is ordained as a Baptist minister. In the 1940s, he returns to Mississippi and in the 1960s, he is “discovered” by several folk-music enthusiasts–including Henry Vestine, later of Canned Heat.

So, they persuade him to play at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. He is a hit with the audience, and is soon playing gigs in folk clubs, blues clubs, and festivals, often with fellow blues icon Mississippi John Hurt. In addition, James records two albums for Vanguard Records.

Keeping the Blues Alive

To learn more or donate to Keeping The Blues Alive, visit our website at

Credits: YouTube, IMDb

Share this post