Warren James is a successful theatre and cabaret entertainer who has performed all over the world as a musical virtuoso of guitar, banjo and ukulele, an impressionist and witty character performer.
A true professional whose popular show, presented alongside guest musician backing, features a great dose of variety theatre, fun and music and includes the songs of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran, Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan and many more hit parade heroes, performed in Warren’s unique style.
“You get your monies worth in the first 10 minutes, the rest of the show is FREE” – Glasgow Press
The lively entertainer and musician, Warren James, began his entertainment career at the age of just 9 years old when he made his first of many BBC Merseyside appearances as a young comic and musical entertainer.
Since those early days Warren has performed around the world in variety, cabaret and theatre, he has entertained at almost every UK theatre – even touring for 10 years with the critically acclaimed theatrical production: The Johnny Cash Story.
As a serious musician he was best newcomer at 2 national blues festivals and has shared billing with the legendary Joe Brown, Brian May and Joe Pasquale for the variety show business charity The Grand Order of Water Rats. In addition to this Warren has even worked with the American guitar legend James Burton (guitarist to Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris and John Denver).
Meanwhile, his debut at Salford’s prestigious Lowry Theatre saw the media state that
“Roots music has never been in safer hands”. BBC Media City
“Keep your eyes open for Warren James,
you won’t be disappointed” BBC Radio 2
“Take Grammy winning guitarist Albert Lee, combine it with the legendary James Burton and add a voice similar to Buddy Holly with the performing energy of Lonnie Donegan – that’s the Warren James sound – truly a class act” The Blues Review
This high energy Americana show features the music of Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran and many more legendary American stars – all performed in Warren’s unique style… oh and his musical impersonations are phenomenal and funny” R2 Magazine
Reviews from public media outlets:
Warren James – The Lowry Theatre, BBC Media City, Salford Quays
By C. Hammond – Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Kicking off his Americana music revival and crusade on Sunday 26 January 2014, Warren James guided the prestigious Lowry audience through an engaging master-class as he performed a string of contagious folk, country, blues and roots driven numbers.
Originally born in Warrington, Warren grew up on a diet of crackling Lonnie Johnson blues records which his grandparents used to play to him along with all the 50s Rock & Roll hits and as opposed to pretending to play the air guitar to Guns ’n’ Roses tracks like his class mates, he began playing the banjo and since his debut show on BBC Merseyside in 1994 it is a love affair which continues blossom.
Sparsely lit and with the audience settled, Warren and his Skiffle Sessions Band picked up the battered instruments which scattered the stage and dived straight into a number of fast-paced pieces.
Backed by Tom Wright on lead guitar (currently touring the world with West End show “Walk Right Back”) and Stevie Barr on double bass, the trio moved quickly in time whilst performing American classics by such artists as Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Lonnie Donegan with Tom’s quick fire acoustic melodies blending perfectly with Stevie’s playful bass lines and Warren’s unique vocal tones.
Warren’s ability to dynamically shift the atmosphere of the room and command the audience was impeccable, like a Music Hall legend of old, he would waltz between upbeat acoustic numbers and ballads before regaling well planned, often humorous anecdotes.
From skiffle king Lonnie Donegan to influential American blues artists, Warren’s clear passion for the often-maligned genre was as endearing as it was infectious and the audience’s knowledge all the broader for it and although the group consisted of clearly talented musicians, the trio’s greatest strength lied within their capacity to deftly layer the music they were displaying.
Through reimagined versions like Buddy Holly’s Raining in my Heart, the group would stab their instruments simultaneously, giving Warren the perfect backdrop to powerfully pour the lyrics upon with each song allowing Tom at least 16 bars to strikingly cut through a perfect solo, whilst the audience would regularly sing loud and proud at Warren’s demand.
Part two centred itself around the more well-known numbers that cemented the genre’s British influential status.
Stamping on the pedal of the sole bass drum, Warren began the final half with a grooving rendition of Lead Belly’s universal classic Black Betty followed by another Lead classic Cotton Fields and by this point the audience were visibly moving and shaking in their seats.
To be able to flood the music which was initially conceived by American slaves over 100 years ago with so much joy and genuine excitement is a testament to Warren. Perhaps the commercial machine that dictates the broad musical tastes of the public isn’t ready for a fresh bout of skiffle or 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll music, however, for people such as Warren who have sincere emotional ties to a genre that has been so influential in the development of their careers, perhaps it is better it stays that way.
And with Warren nestled at the front of the skiffle / acoustic-roots revival, it has to be said the movement has never been in safer hands.
Huntingdon Hall Theatre Review by John Austin
“This Here’s The Story of British Pop”
9 out of 10
On Saturday night I was given the task of attending the thratre to review a new performer whom I had not heard of until that moment. I must say that when a new name shows up I am always nervous of what is to come, all to often I am lamented with depressing original songs which neither inspire me nor do they uplift me – but one tries to find good.
But, how wrong could I have been this time? I admit to my scepticism upon arrival at Huntingdon Hall, but from the second that Warren James and his musicians took to the stage I was mesmerised.
What was it about Warren that engrossed me so much, you may ask? Firstly and primarily, I smiled from the beginning to the end and I was even tapping my fingers at the bar during the interval. Every song that he and his superb band of musicians performed felt truly memorable, even the ones that I hadn’t heard for many years, they all came back to life.
This young artist displayed something that other performers today often lack, a purpose, he clearly knew his purpose for being upon the stage. Suddenly, as though he read my mind, he told the whole audience what I myself had just concluded, his words: “Tonight we are here to do a few simple things, firstly, to make you smile. Secondly, to fill your bellies with that warm excitement that you get when music triggers a life memory and lastly to send you through those doors at the end far happier than when you came in here, knowing that we have been of service”. Music to my ears.
For 2 hours this young man gave what seemed to be the performance of his life, taking the audience into the palm of his hand, lifting them with upbeat songs by Lonnie Donegan, Joe Brown and The Everly Brothers, then allowing them to rest with a pleasant story – oh how I wished that those days of true entertainers would return and tonight my wish was granted.
Let us not forget the remarkable musicianship on stage, because whilst Warren James was energetically thrashing away on banjo and guitar he was accompanied by two fine musicians. Firstly, the slap and thump of the 1950s was so well captured in the sound of the upright bass, played this evening by the master bassist Stevie Barr.
Another star in the making, in the guise of lead guitarist, Tom Wright whose own playing style could rival the legends themselves. With a style comparable to Albert Lee and Scotty Moore, Tom picked and slid he fingers throughout Warren’s energetic and sometimes manic vocal delivery..
Now, with my varicose veins throbbing with excitement, I did indeed leave the theatre much happier than when I walked in – a job well done – mission accomplished!
Review of The Lowry, Salford by Iain Sykes on 26th January, 2014
Resident in the Midlands but originally hailing from the Delta Blues not so hotspot of Warrington, Warren James would appear to be an unlikely champion of that particular musical genre. But thanks to exposure to his grandparents’ tastes in music, here he is entertaining the Lowry audience with a selection of hot blues, country and folk, heading back to the early days of the music.
Billed as a skiffle show, James is at great pains to point out that the term skiffle relates not just to comedy songs about dustmen but to a whole area of DIY blues music stretching back a century to the Deep South of America and the culture of slaves before being picked up in a commercial sense.
Leading a three piece band with young guitarist Tom Wright, Steve Barr on a very battered double bass and James himself playing guitar, banjo, and a bass drum (his drummer, he tells us, called in sick this morning), his show is a brief education in the history of American folk music.
Drawing heavily on the music of Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, the first half of the set goes right back to the beginning of the genre with a sharp, clear, bluesy sound, only usually heard these days under the heavy crackle of old vinyl.
The trio make a very tight band of fine musicians and James’ English midlands speaking accent is replaced with such an authentic sounding American twang to reconstruct the songs, it’s easy to forget his own roots.
After the interval, the more commercial and better known sounds of the genre come to the fore, with songs like Black Betty and Worried Man Blues as well as a frantic, tongue in cheek version of Lonnie Donegan’s Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour? all helping to bring the evening to a very satisfactory conclusion.
All through the show, it’s evident that Warren James is a man in love with folk and blues music and the culture behind it, and this shines through in his performance.
A performance that would have even people with no experience of this music, clapping and singing along to this pleasantly entertaining evening of Americana. 5 out of 5