Mixing together Tennessee twang, southern storytelling, and a big, booming baritone, James Carothers makes throwback country music for modern times.
It's an old-school sound that ignores the trends of contemporary radio. You won't find any bro-country songs here. No Auto Tuned vocals, either. Instead, Carothers dishes up a reminder of country music's golden years — a time filled with fiddle solos, analog production, and slyly simple songs about heartaches and hangovers. His first full-length album, Relapse, available May 5th, 2017, offers plenty of all three.
If Relapse bears similarities to classic releases by George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, it's because Carothers wrote most of the songs between daily gigs at The George Jones in Nashville. Since its opening in 2015, he's performed hundreds of shows at the venue, playing acoustic duo sets throughout the week with loyal sideman Jerry Lee Combs on bass and a weekly Saturday night band show on The George Jones Rooftop. George Jones' own widow, Nancy, personally hired Carothers for the gig, giving him the opportunity to do something he’s thankful for and that so many aspiring artists moving to Nashville only dream of doing – make a living playing music.
It may sound cliché, but Jerry Lee & I really have made a bunch of lifelong friends just "sittin’ on a bar stool actin’ like a darn fool."
In addition to supporting his young family, performing daily at The George Jones has helped Carothers build a large fan base of fiercely supportive followers — fans who are drawn through the venue’s doors by the booming voice echoing down 2nd Avenue and his spot-on impressions of several of country music’s greatest icons. The gig has also allowed him to sharpen his stage show — not to mention his rare ability to entertain and interact with fans in a way that leaves most people feeling like they’ve made a new friend.
"My whole life, I've always loved those legendary artists,” he says, "I've really learned how to sound like them, too. My Willie Nelson sounds like Willie Nelson. My Johnny Cash sounds like Johnny Cash. When I do the Highwaymen, it sounds like all of them. People really do want to hear all these old classic songs and I guess singing them is kind of what has made things happen for me here in Nashville. I see a lot of folks doing double takes when they first walk by – the impressions definitely get their attention. Then they stop and hang out with us for a show or two, buy a CD, and a lot of them keep coming back. It may sound cliché, but Jerry Lee and I really have made a bunch of lifelong friends just "sittin’ on a bar stool actin’ like a darn fool."
Note: When James is not on the road, he plays several shows each week at The George Jones, located in downtown Nashville. Showtimes at The George Jones are typically added to his schedule 1-2 weeks in advance, so be sure to check his schedule and stop in for a show when you're in Music City!