Memphis Music Club: Introducing James Godwin

You may or may not have heard of James Godwin; however the most noted musicians in Memphis have. At 29, Godwin is bassist for both Jack-O. & the Tennessee Tearjerkers (Jack Oblivian’s current vehicle) and The New Mary Jane (a band formed by former Grifters members Scott Taylor and Dave Shouse that includes John Argroves).

“James is immensely talented, witty and clever…an awesome bandmate and friend plus he looks smokin’ hot in a sky-blue leisure suit,” says Scott Taylor of his bandmate.

“It was actually all John Argroves fault,” Godwin laughingly says of becoming part of the Tearjerkers as well as The New Mary Jane as Argroves contacted him for both gigs. He has now been with The New Mary Jane for two and a half years. Currently they are in the final stages of making an album and are also opening for Tiger High on July 20th at the Hi-Tone. Take a listen of The New Mary Jane preforming their song “Microgore.”

A lifelong Memphian, Godwin became active musically at fourteen with fellow noted Memphis musician, Jeremy Stanfill and formed the band which would eventually become Streetside Symphony. He was raised on his Grandmother’s Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson, of which he still has great affinity. He credits previous time spent without an automobile as the catalyst for his songwriting: he would walk everywhere and it gave him time to think of lyrics and ideas for songs.

I knew of his work in the aforementioned bands and was pleased when he, very humbly offered a release of the single, “You By My Side,” on his Facebook page via Bandcamp, under the moniker, Jimmy Skydancer, a project Godwin deprecatingly says he decided to launch on a night that “may or may not have included a concussion.”

The lyrics and structure of “You By My Side,” are faultless and tight. It has the bluesy rock sound and sensitive lyricism is reminiscent of The Black Keys at their best. There is an instrumental interlude of clever and unique sounds, something that Godwin says that he is interested in creating that Scott Taylor has helped him to hone in The New Mary Jane. Godwin played all the instruments in the recording which was done at his residence in Midtown on a four-track. It is simply a great song that begged me to ask him when he will release more, after some arm twisting, the ever humble Godwin responded that he was putting material together for a 7” and that he hoped to record it at home because, bu his own account, studios sorta freak him out.

As I mentioned earlier, you can see Godwin perform with The New Mary Jane at the Hi-Tone on July 20th, opening up for Tiger High. Godwin will also be filling in on bass with John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives at various gigs this summer and fall. You can also hear his work on the forthcoming albums from The New Mary Jane and Jack O. and The Tennessee Tearjerkers.

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