Joshua James walked up to the stage in a floral shirt he found in the women’s section of a Mississippi vintage shop. The only sound came from tufts of hair steadily falling in an out-of-place barber shop located at the back of the motorcycle store. As James jimmied the microphone out of its stand, it was clear the show would prove to be a unique one.
The concert took place on Oct. 7 at Legends Vintage Motorcycles in Springville. It featured an uncommon blend of music and a showing of “Sons of Anarchy,” a TV series featuring motorcyclists. James’ quirky style, seen around other local venues, perfectly complemented the off-beat setup of the event.
“Joshua James’ music was a great fit,” said event promoter Sam Schultz. “His voice has conviction and style.”
However, James wasn’t always known for his unique musical talent. He didn’t start playing the guitar until he was 21, teaching himself from online tutorials. Although his mother is an impressive pianist, his five siblings and father had no interest in music.
James’ father is a podiatrist and pushed him toward a similar career, leading James to become a nursing major. But when he was 24, James dropped out of college and began pursuing music.
“I felt something when I was singing, and I didn’t feel nothin’ when I was in anatomy and physics classes,” he said.
Now a father of an 18-month-old little boy, James feels his choice to pursue music is the correct path for him.
“It’s important to (instill) in your children the things you deem to be important in life, and for me, following things you think are important is something I want to share with my children,” James said. “I want my kids to look back and say, ‘My dad lived his dream.'”
James and his wife first met in the health food store Good Earth.
“I got a job there, and she trained me on the cash register,” James said. “Next thing you know we’re making out in the elevator.”
James takes it day by day, juggling a successful music career, a family and even a recording studio he owns in order to help other local artists achieve their dreams. He has recorded albums for big-name local artists like John Allred, Isaac Russell, Pablo Blaqk, Desert Noises, Kenz Hall and many others.
“It’s another creative outlet where I am able to work in music but not have to be so egocentric and narcissistic, and I’m able to work on other people’s music,” James said.
The unique and distinctive style of James’ band, however, empowers the music to stand apart from the other local Utah bands like the ones James has helped in recording. It shows not only through their members’ productions but through their stage presence and appearance as well.
“Sometimes we wear silly clothing for inspiration while writing songs,” said bassist Isaac Russell.
But for James, this individuality goes deeper. His job at Good Earth and other experiences he has have led him to a strong belief in doing things naturally and organically.
When James bought his house five years ago, he planted a small tomato patch and zucchini and eventually progressed to a larger garden with an abundance of natural food resources. He now owns four goats he uses for milk and cheese, as well as chickens, from which he harvests eggs. He even owns honey bees that provide natural honey.
“I love milking my goat in the morning,” James said. “It gives me an excuse to spend some time with a non-human.”
This quest for the all-natural was instilled in James at a young age. Coming from a family that was very health conscious, and with a yoga instructor for a mother, James found that he loved the idea of knowing the source of his food.
“I like being connected with the food that I eat,” he said. “I think there is an innate part of us as human beings to be a part of our food source.”
His interest continued to grow as he read a book called “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is about a man who starts to panic at the thought of his unborn child entering the world and wondering how he will care for and feed it. The book contains a lot of research about meats and animal products that eventually led James to become a vegetarian.
“I’m more energetic and healthy now than I was at 18 years old,” he said.
James plans to use that energy to continue his work in the music business, progressing in his own recording and aiding the recordings of others. He has big plans for the future, and although he has already traveled to many places outside of the country to perform, he hopes to continue to find that success with a band that respects his unique style and focus for music.
“He’s got an intense work ethic and an attention to detail,” said lead guitarist Evan Coulombe. “We overlap on that last part, but he’s not as fond of snack breaks as I am.”
James’s band hopes to make a new record by December and has a show at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City on Dec. 6.
What he’s most excited for, though, is the upcoming holiday season he gets to spend with his family.
“I’m taking some time off the road to spend with my girl and my boy and enjoy the holiday season,” James said.