From the first note you can feel it – that thing you just cannot put a finger on, that thing you know is real but cannot see. This is the feeling you get when you listen to something so pure and authentic that you know there is way more to it than just notes and rhythm. Otis Redding had “it”, Nina Simone had “it”, Marvin Gaye and Etta James had “it”. Some people call “it” spirit also known as soul. James & Black is Guerrilla Soul. They call their particular brand of music “Guerrilla Soul” because of the anyplace/anytime attitude they possess as well as the unconventional methods they employ. James & Black tour relentlessly and are coming to a town near you soon.
Bruce James and Bella Black joined musical forces in Austin, Texas in 2011 and have been on a mission spreading the word of Guerrilla Soul ever since. The roots of their music definitely spring from the tradition of the Southern Soul from Texas, New Orleans and Memphis, yet they are not a throwback. Whether they are joined by their long time Texan partner in crime, DJ Phil Ross, or a full rhythm section, the foundation of James & Black is the voices and stories in their songs. For this duo though, it is all about the song – the musical canvas being the dirt for the flowers, so to speak – fertile soil for the tune itself to grow.
Since relocating to Europe in the summer of 2012, James & Black have laid a foundation in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain and now France playing close to 150 shows per year and covering over 300,000km in the process. They have supported Gregory Porter and Fatoumata Diawara in Leiden at Summer Jazz, Candy Dulfer in Amsterdam at Vondel Park, performed at the Porretta Soul Festival twice now in Porreta Terme, Italy along side artists such as Bobby Rush and Lattimore, performed at the Enclave de Aguas in Soria, Spain along side Lee Fields and Nikki Hill, performed at the Barcelona International Jazz Festival, and have supported New Yorkers, the Slackers, throughout Germany and Austria. In April this year they will be performing at the Baltic Soul Weekender with Sister Sledge and Lenny Williams near Hamburg, Germany and have been asked to play a tribute to Allen Toussaint at the Porretta Soul Festival.
James & Black have released a live album, recorded in Belgium at the famous “N9” club as well as their first studio album, “How Long is Now” in May of 2015 on Brixton Records (www.brixtonrecords.com). Both Bruce and Bella have also recorded solo albums to be released later this year with Luca Sapio's Blind Faith Records (www.blindfaithrecords.it) in Rome, Italy. With the addition of Belgian bassist, Nicolas Thys (Zapp Mama, Toots Thielemans, Brazilian Girls), and Parisian drummer, Felix Sabal Lecco (Prince, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck), they are hitting the road this summer in France and other European destinations. The first stop is the Porretta Soul festival in Porretta, Italy on the 21st of July. Stay tuned!
"With voices reinforced by concrete saws, earning the duo much respect and reminding us of the origins of soul music the church! Bruce James is perhaps one of the most colorful artists from Austin. Behind his music, brewed from an original mix of Soul, New Orleans R & B and blues lies a musical career that spans over twenty years. Consistency is his penchant for the musical roots of American music. As a pianist/ singer of the legendary band Tunji he shared the stage with Bernie Worrell, Jurassic5 and other giants of the music world. Bella Black is a woman with a story and has a voice among the most poignant in contemporary southern soul who actually says it all." Muziekhuis.nl - Leiden NL