Steve James, singer/songwriter and noted blues-guitar author and instructor, succumbed to brain cancer January 6 at his home in Seattle. He was 72.
As a youngster, James had a fascination with blues and the guitar. Initially a self-taught player, he later took lessons and also learned about guitar making with Michael Gurian. After moving to Tennessee, he refined his solo blues act with help from Furry Lewis before moving to San Antonio to work at the Institute of Texan Cultures. In the early ’90s, he moved to Austin, where he recorded four albums, collaborating with other artists including Danny Barnes, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cindy Cashdollar, and ukuleleist Del Rey.
Fascinated with old instruments, he amassed a collection of guitars, mandolins, and others. A fondness for resonators led to collaborating with National Reso-Phonic on a wood-bodied ResoRocket signature model.
In addition to writing for Acoustic Guitar, James authored books and produced instructional videos on blues/roots guitar and blues mandolin.
This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.