Never one to follow convention and always one to think for himself, Nathan James has created a musical identity with his homemade instruments and self taught skills. Armed with his handcrafted washboard guitar and stomping out time on a box made of old fence boards, while singing and blowing harmonica, you are sure to be captivated. Nathan James is a well respected and experienced artist in his field. For over 20 years now he has successfully made his living touring and recording, solely specializing in his passion for blues and American roots music.
Drawing from a deep well of influences from many early roots artists and styles, James was quickly attracted to the individuality of self made music and artistic expression from an early age. Growing up in the small agricultural town of Fallbrook California has been influential in choosing his life path because he could relate to music originating from a rural environment. “There wasn’t a lot to do here, so you either got in trouble or found something productive to do with what you had around you!” Having supportive parents that didn’t force him into college after high school allowed Nathan to go straight into the real world of a ‘working musician’. At age 19 Nathan got the call from internationally known blues veteran James Harman to join his band and tour the country. With Harman is where he gained the experience that has shaped most of his own career.
In 2007 Nathan entered the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN with Ben Hernandez and took 1st place. During his career Nathan has worked with other many well known artists including: Kim Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester, Johnny Dyer, Rick Holmstrom, Janiva Magness, Mark Hummel and Gary Primich. Nathan has brought his music to concerts and festivals in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands, Taiwan, Canada and Mexico, as well as all over the United States.
Nathan’s three piece band the Rhythm Scratchers has forged a cumulative sound that combines elements of 1920’s acoustic blues, amplified juke joint hill country, and 1950’s uptown blues mixed with 1960’s soulful R&B! Influences range from Tampa Red, to B.B. King, to James Brown and the Famous Flames. This is not your average blues power trio that leans towards the much abused “blues rock” formula. Instead each member in the band knows all the nuances of the different feels and tones. Knowing how to get people’s attention, Nathan will often go out solo from the bandstand and burst into a frenzied ragtime breakdown that can lead to a washboard solo on his custom LED lit ‘Washtar Gitboard’! Another unique aspect of a live show is band mate Troy Sandow. He may start off the set on upright bass while Nathan will play an uptown lead guitar style in the vein of B.B. or T-bone Walker. Then he will switch over to amplified harmonica and Nathan will fingerpick a driving groove on his baritone guitar in the style of R.L. Burnside or Lightnin’ Hopkins. Although Nathan’s band pays homage to these traditions and has the same quality of musicianship, there is an original and fresh new energy coming from musicians of a much younger generation.
Band members consist of:
Marty Dodson (drums, vocals) was raised in a Southern Baptist church, listening to his grandfather’s sermons and his mother’s piano playing. “I loved the music at church and when we got home, would beg her to play the boogie woogie.” Records at home consisted of gospel, country, bluegrass and early rock-n-roll (Little Richard & Jerry Lee Lewis, of course.) “My family bought me a drum set when I was ten and I haven’t stopped playing.” During his career, as a long time member of Mark Hummel’s Blues Survivors, he has toured with virtually every well known blues harmonic player in the world including: James Cotton, Lazy Lester, Snooky Pryor, Kim Wilson, Lee Oskar, James Harman, Charlie Musslewhite, John Mayall, Rod Piazza, and even Huey Lewis! Marty has studied all the nuances of blues and soul drummers including: Fred Below, S.P. Leary, Francis Clay, and Al Jackson. He has been a veteran touring musician for most of his adult life.
Troy Sandow (upright and Fender bass, harmonica, vocals) started playing music after he heard the Muddy Waters “Can’t Get No Grindin” LP. harmonica influences are George “Harmonica” Smith, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Whispering Smith and Sylvester Buckley, and James Harman. He later took up the bass and spent many hours listening to Stax, Motown and Muscle Shoals rhythm sections, along with blues upright bassists Big Crawford, Ransom Knowling, and Willie Dixon. Troy joined the James Harman band in 2009, and also works with many other well know bands including a traditional country band he co-founded called “Hello Trouble”.