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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

Jim James transfixes audiences on solo tour

As he joyously slid from side to side of the carpeted Crystal Ballroom stage and jumped in perfect unison with cymbal crashes while powering through “Regions of Light and Sound of God,” (his debut solo album) in sequential order, it was made apparent that Jim James, famous as the frontman and guitarist of My Morning Jacket, is mastering being a solo artist. Touring in support of his first solo album with a band comprised of old friends, James cast a spell over the crowd which was helplessly transfixed as he alternated between soul singer, guitar hero, saxophonist, dancing fool and overall unavoidable stage presence.

The setting sunlight spilled through the windows as the band took to the stage, casting an almost mystical glow which helped James set the mood for the opening song, “State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.).” He immediately made his presence felt, walking out to the edge of the stage, almost accidentally hopping onto the speakers with neon pink paper reminders stating “Please no Jim on speakers” (James suffered a bad stage fall after walking onto his rolling speakers a few years back.) As the song progressed, James reached out to play his mounted Flying-V guitar before also later soloing on the saxophone.

Oftentimes while touring with his primary band, My Morning Jacket, James will hide behind his shoulder length hair while singing in order to isolate himself from the audience. On this tour, James has successfully attempted to connect with the audience as he paced the stage, making eye contact with fans looking back up at him.

As the sun finally descended and the dark overtook the venue, James kicked off into an extended jam on “Dear One,” which proved to be a highlight of the night. Once the lyrics of the song finished, James stepped offstage and allowed the rest of the band to take the spotlight and crescendo into a jaw-dropping drum solo from Dave Givan which would make Neil Peart of Rush proud.

Working through the rest of “Regions of Light and Sound of God,” other standouts included the always entertaining “A New Life,” a dreamlike rendition of “Actress” and a haunting version of “All Is Forgiven.”

Following a brief break after the album’s close, James returned alone to the stage with only an acoustic guitar to play “Movin Away” off of My Morning Jacket’s most recent album, “Circuital.”
This was the only My Morning Jacket song of the night, as the band followed with four of the five songs James wrote for his collaboration with the Monsters of Folk, a supergroup consisting of James, M. Ward, and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes.

“Dear God,” a desperate prayer ballad, provided a dark tone but pushed the set into an upbeat finish. “Losin Yo Head” had the entire band smiling and dancing in circles as James and Kevin Ratterman exchanged guitar solos.

The night ended with “Changing World,” an incomplete Woody Guthrie song that James added music to as a part of the New Multitudes band. Guthrie wrote the lyrics before his death, yet they seem as relevant today as ever as James pleads with the audience to “Change your ways/ In this changing world.”

Jim James is clearly an artist who tours for the love of the music. Every time he takes the stage, James exerts a happiness that few artists can replicate. This show earned an A grade for the vast diversity of the set and the personable vibe James created.

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Craig Wright, Reporter
Whether running drills on the tennis court or jamming in his basement, Craig Wright, senior, fully commits himself to his passions. Wright has been playing tennis since he was six, when he was shorter than the net. He has been on the Boys Varsity Team all four years of high school and hopes to be captain this year.  Wright is just as big of a fanatic about music as he is about tennis; he’s been to too many concerts to have a sure count; his best estimate is 34.

Wright’s interest in tennis was inherited; his dad played tennis in high school and shared his interest with Wright’s mom. His parents introduced he and his brother, Brett, to the sport and they both took to it. Last year Wright and his doubles partner, Jonathan Macemon, Class of 2012, were third in the District Championship and made it to State. In fact Wright’s favorite vacation was going South Carolina, primarily because he and his family were able to play tennis on real green clay courts.

Even though he plays tennis year round,somehow Wright has time for intramural basketball. However, according to Wright, when it comes to intramural “the less effort the better.” Another extracurricular activity that Wright participates in is Symphonic Band; he is a percussionist.

Wright’s interest in music extends beyond percussion; he has been playing guitar since sixth grade and bass guitar since eighth grade. The reason that Wright is so interested in playing instruments is that he is a huge music fan.

“I like a little bit of everything,” Wright said.

Wright’s brother introduced him to a wide variety of music, and they share many favorite bands like The Beatles, The Replacements, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Gaslight Anthem, The Ramones and The Clash. Wright idolizes many musicians and dreams of meeting them.

“Joe Strummer[The Clash] would be awesome [to meet], but he’s dead,” Wright said, “I’d like to meet Brian Fallon[The Gaslight Anthem]; he’s just a cool dude.”

Wright’s interest in the arts continues into his academic career. His favorite class is AP English, and he thinks he wants to study English or journalism in college.

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Jim James transfixes audiences on solo tour