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John James at EFC / Edinburgh Folk Club
The Pleasance Cabaret Bar
Edinburgh United Kingdom
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John James at EFC / Edinburgh Folk Club
John James first came to Edinburgh FC in the 1970s and left us with our jaws bouncing of the floor. John had transcribed Joplin rags from piano to guitar (the first guitarist in the UK to do so) which required some digital dextrousness unheard of at that time. That, allied to a beautifully dry, sharp Welsh wit, ensured us a number of memorable evenings of entertainment. John has had a long career recording over 15 albums and has worked with a stellar list of musical luminaries. You'll miss a star night if you miss this one!

John learned the rudiments of music at the piano, switching to the guitar at the age of 12. Initially he learned his craft playing in local pop and R&B bands but later focused on solo acoustic guitar. 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 (by composers such as Scott Joplin, and Reverend Gary Davis); critics dubbed him the "Welsh Ragtime Wizard".

John became a leading figure of the UK's acoustic  music scene of the 1970s - a period known affectionately as 'The Transatlantic Years' after the record label of the same name on which label John recorded. His contemporaries within the label included Pentangle, Gerry Rafferty, Ralph McTell, Gordon Giltrap, Paul Brady and Steve Tilston. He recorded several albums for Transatlantic in the early 70s including a groundbreaking album of duets with fellow guitarist Pete Berryman (Sky In My Pie). John also became the first guitarist in the UK to arrange and record the music of Scott Joplin. In the mid-1970's he was signed to Kicking Mule Records and in 1976 released on that label an album of original finger-picking guitar solos and duets called Descriptive Guitar Instrumentals. This also featured fellow guitarists John Renbourn and Duck Baker. According to Stefan Grossman, James's compositions were written out in musical form without the aid of the guitar enabling him to develop original ideas without being limited by his existing guitar technique.

With a career over four decades, James has recorded over 15 albums and toured extensively, playing with artists as diverse as Jools Holland, Ralph McTell, the late John Renbourn, the late John Martyn (best man at John's wedding), Led Zeppelin (he played support at their debut gig at London's Round House in the 60s!), Happy Traum (USA), Eddie Walker and Dick Heckstall-Smith famed for playing in jazz-rock band Colosseum, John Mayall and Jack Bruce. As a footnote John was also a guest artist on the last ever Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry UK tour of 1976. John has performed at many prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall (London), the Paris Olympia, Edinburgh and Cambridge Folk Festivals etc.

Apart from his recording and live work he has been influential in guitar education with compositions featuring in several guitar tuition books by Stefan Grossman. He was a columnist for Guitar International magazine and produced best-selling guitar tuition cassettes and videos. He has appeared on many UK radio and TV shows including presenting a BBC TV series called Broadsides. John has played a variety of different acoustic guitars over the years.

Levin Goliath (Good Quality Instruments, made In Sweden)
Gibson LG1 (Similar in size to their famed Nick Lucus Model)
Fylde Oberon (Beautifully Crafted English Instrument)
Martin M36 (1980's creation similar to an OM in dimension)

John currently favours playing a Fylde, which is Flamed Maple Back And Sides, with a Spruce Top, as well as a nine string Fylde Acoustic. His live shows are notable for his humorous anecdotes as well as virtuoso guitar picking.



The Pleasance Cabaret Bar (View)
60 Pleasance
Edinburgh EH8 9TJ
United Kingdom


Music > All Ages
Music > Folk

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!



Marie R.
Edinburgh United Kingdom
Apr 10, 2018 4:16 AM
Graeme B.
Galashiels United Kingdom
Apr 10, 2018 12:26 AM
Marie R.
Edinburgh United Kingdom
Apr 06, 2018 11:41 PM
Malcolm B.
Bonnyrigg United Kingdom
Apr 05, 2018 1:33 AM
Rona B.
Bonnyrigg United Kingdom
Apr 05, 2018 1:33 AM

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