James happy to be back in the saddle


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Country music artist David James is scheduled to perform in Brandon for the first time in years, and he’s aiming to make this show a memorable one.

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Country music artist David James is scheduled to perform in Brandon for the first time in years, and he’s aiming to make this show a memorable one.

The 34-year-old musician is slated to play at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium Nov. 16 alongside Jess Moskaluke, who is currently travelling across the country on her “Mapdot Tour.”

While James will only be making an appearance during the Manitoba leg of this tour, which includes a stop in Portage la Prairie and his hometown of Winnipeg, he told the Sun over the weekend that he’s more than happy to contribute.

Country music artist David James is scheduled to perform at Brandon’s Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium Nov. 16 alongside Jess Moskaluke. (Submitted)

“Jess is somebody I’m very close with,” he said Sunday. “We’ve known each other for close to 10 years already, so she’s someone I’ve always looked up to professionally and personally. She’s a great human being and a fabulous artist, and I’m a huge supporter. So to get to support her on her first headlining tour is really special.”

However, James is also planning to use his time in Brandon to debut some of his own original material, including a new track that won’t officially be released until Nov. 18.

While “Let Her Go” may sound like a breakup song, James assured the Sun its contents are far more nuanced than that, since it explores how a relationship can get complicated by a jealous ex partner.

“I think a lot of us have been in a situation where maybe you’re dating somebody new and this person you’re dating has an ex who won’t really let them go and get over them, and that’s kind of what this is about,” he said.

“So I think it’s going to be a really relatable song, and [it’s a situation] that a lot of people have gone through, but not necessarily heard a song about.”

James has been trying to tap into these relatable human stories for almost 10 years now, having released a self-published EP titled “This Must Be It” in 2013.

However, James told the Sun that his love for music was largely solidified through his parents, who introduced him to a variety of different genres as a child.

While James’ mother emphasized the importance of gospel and other church music, his father gave him a crash course in rock and country, especially during those early-morning drives to the hockey rink.

“As a kid, you want to play in the NHL and that’s your dream,” he said. “But looking back on those times with my dad going to hockey, the most significant part that stands out is always the different records we listened to on the way to those games and practices and getting baptized into music that way.”

From there, James would go on to join a 1980s hair metal tribute band in high school. He and his friends performed songs from groups such as Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard and Aerosmith.

While James continued to perform covers during his university days, he eventually decided to change course following a chance encounter with Darren Savard, another Winnipeg-based musician who currently works as the musical director for Canadian country star Dallas Smith.

After hearing James play at a local bar called Le Garage, Savard encouraged him to produce his own material and even offered to serve as his collaborator to help move this process along.

“Once I started writing and getting in the studio and getting to work on my own music, I quickly found how much more gratifying that was than just playing the same cover songs every Thursday, Friday, Saturday night at a local dive bar,” James recalls.

“And from that point on, I was kind of leaving the university and that stuff behind me and really pursuing music full-time.”

After releasing his debut EP in 2013, James signed with MDM Recordings Inc. the following year and has maintained a steady output of music ever since.

Outside of cultivating a bunch of hit singles on the Canadian country charts, James also managed to secure some industry accolades, being named male artist of the year at the 2019 Manitoba Country Music Association Awards.

Of course, James’ momentum unavoidably came to a halt in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and took in-person performances off the table for a prolonged period of time.

However, James is just happy to be back in the saddle after such a lengthy hiatus, and is trying to make up for lost time by releasing new music and taking part in as many live shows as he can.

“Momentum is a funny thing,” he said. “I just think it’s when opportunity meets hard work. We’re not short on the hard work, and those opportunities will come to gain that back a bit and move my career forward.”

Even though James is approaching the 10-year anniversary of releasing his first EP, he believes that his career is only getting started.

“That’s the fun part,” he said. “Getting to work on a new project, whether it’s a new record, a new EP or a new single, you’re getting to constantly reinvent yourself, and for me that’s an exciting challenge.”

Jess Moskaluke’s Mapdot tour performance in Brandon, featuring James, is scheduled to take place at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium Nov. 16 starting at 7:30 p.m.

» kdarbyson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson

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