A Joe Satriani CD, purchased at a garage sale, was the sole impetus for a future that centered around the guitar. So enthralled by what he heard James asked his parents for an electric guitar, which he received for his eighth birthday. At age 10, James’ parents enrolled him in guitar lessons with local teacher Joe Schafer, under whose guidance James began writing his own music. Another inspirational teacher in the Texarkana area was Mark Kerr. He introduced James to the music of Yngwie Malmsteen, who became a massive influence on James’ musical direction.
Before long James realized that what he really wanted to do was to play lead guitar — to shred.
His dream of attending the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston finally became a reality in the summer of 2013. James flew to Boston for the audition, and was accepted on a provisional basis. During his first semester, he would have to maintain a 3.6 GPA, obtain letters of recommendations from all his professors, and prove himself worthy of being retained. Up to the challenge, James maintained a 3.98 GPA, impressed all of his instructors, and was in the handful of provisional students allowed to stay.
Over the next 8 semesters (consecutively squished into two and a half years), James managed to take lessons consistently with Joe Stump, an idol of his since age 14.
He also studied with famed jazz drummer Kenwood Dennard, former drummer for Miles Davis. Other professors who made a significant impression on him and helped to mold his way of thinking were Helen Sherrah-Davies and Jon Finn. The hard work finally paid off when he graduated in December 2015 with a Bachelor of Music degree.
Since graduating Berklee, James has become a well-known face in and about the DFW metal scene, playing in the neo-classical heavy metal sub genre. He began by playing as an open mic performer for about 7 months. This eventually led to -olo performances at Wits End and Renos in Deep Ellum. The Abbey Underground, in Denton, has become a popular performance venue for him as well.