Paul James is one of the most exciting and energetic Toronto-based Canadian musicians – past, present and future.
Paul James has received many music awards during his long career in the music business. He is winner of a Juno Award, multiple Toronto Music Awards,‘The Maple Blues (Lifetime Achievement Award for Blues Music in Canada), the London Fire Hall Lifetime Achievement Award, and he has many more music awards to grace his mantle. However, winning the respect of his musical peers always rated more highly than winning any awards for Paul.
Bo Diddley asked Paul to open his show and to back him up over 100 times between the years 1973 and 2007. Paul co-wrote a song with Bo, recorded with him and helped him to create the whole soundtrack for the movie, ‘Diary of a Sinner’. Bo Diddley played on Paul’s first vinyl album,’ Almost Crazy’, and wrote the liner notes for his second album, ‘The Paul James Band’. In 1986 Bo wrote: “From the beginning of his young career, I predicted that Paul James would be a big star one day and that time is now! The man is a true professional and dynamic! Listening to Paul James is listening to the building of a new thing, and he is a new thing. Paul James is a great musician, He’s a great tribute to Rock’n’Roll.”
Bob Dylan sat in with Paul’s band, and came to see Paul perform on numerous occasions. In 1990, Dylan invited Paul James to play an acoustic set to open his show at Canada’s Wonderland. Dylan further invited Paul to sit in with his band many times in Toronto, London, Oshawa and Buffalo. In 1986, when they first met, Dylan advised Paul that if he would move to L.A. and just do what he does in Toronto there, he would make it big for sure. Unfortunately, Paul had to keep his home base in Toronto for family reasons.
In 1982, Willy DeVille asked Paul to join his New York based band, Mink DeVille. Paul stayed in New York living in Willy’s apartment in Greenwich Village for about a month while learning all the Mink DeVille material for an upcoming twelve country world tour. Paul also recorded with Mink DeVille while he was in New York before the tour. There is a Great DVD documenting that tour titled ‘Mink DeVille Live at Montreux 1982’.
Paul played lead and rhythm guitar for New York Bluesman John Hammond. They played about 100 nights together over a thirty year period, mostly in Toronto and also in Ottawa, London, Montreal and Edmonton. Paul played on one of Hammond’s albums, ‘Nobody But You’ and Hammond played on two of Paul’s albums,’Acoustic Blues’ and Rockin’ the Blues’.
Paul has played guitar for Texas guitar great Lightning Hopkins, and piano greats Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Johnson, and Dr, John.
Paul James was a trailblazer for the independent music scene in Canada, as he was an independent recording artist long before it was popular to be one. He released his first vinyl 45 RPM original single, ‘Joint Out Back’ in 1973, on his own label Lick’n’Stick Records. Paul proved he could be successful as an Indie artist and many others followed his lead thereafter. He probably was the first independent recording artist to play all ten provinces in Canada, traveling in his van with his band.
Paul was a Canadian Blues Crusader! He played the Blues in bars since 1968 when it was not nearly as popular as it is now and long before there were any ‘Blues Societies’ or ‘Blues Awards in Canada.’ Paul James kept the Blues flame burning in Toronto even through the late 1970s when the disco era caused so many live bands to give up.
Currently, Paul James is a Canadian cultural icon. He is a veteran entertainer who has seen all that this crazy music business has to offer. His talents as a guitarist, vocalist, band leader, stage acrobat, producer, songwriter, trailblazer, and owner of his own Indie record label have all allowed Paul to perform and produce the music he loves for close to five decades. Paul is not over the hill yet – in fact, he is still going up it!
Paul James is a real musician’s musician. He has been constantly surrounded by the world’s stage of big time players, such as Mink DeVille, Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, John Hammond, Dr. John, Spencer Davis, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jeff Healey, Honeyboy Edwards, Johnny Johnson, Jack Scott, and Sunnyland Slim, just to name a few.
Bob Dylan calling Paul James out of the audience , and on the stage to play with him…in Toronto at The Masonic Temple ( The old Rock Pile), in 1991, “I have an old friend here, I tried to get him in my band a long time ago, but he had his own thing to do. He’s here backstage. I’m gonna try and get him up here to play. His name is Paul James, maybe you’ve seen him around? I know I just saw him out there a minute a ago, Hey Paul come on up…” – Bob Dylan