Timothy James is fast making a name for himself not only in the Portland area, but in the music community. This 17-year-old guitar slinger is known for being able to hold his own with seasoned musicians five times his age.
At the tender age of nine, when most 3rd graders are worried about being picked first for a ballgame and watching the clock for when school is out, Timothy was watching his father play guitar. Now in his teens, he’s the first on many people’s minds when it comes to the new face of the blues, following in the footsteps of such young greats as Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Timothy was born in 2002 and lives in the small town Mulino, Oregon with his parents and sister, just outside the Portland Metro area. While growing up in a small Oregon town, Timothy was accustomed to jam sessions where his father and friends would get together regularly to play music. He was enrolled in piano lessons for a couple of years at an early age, but never seemed very inspired by piano. His parents also co-hosted the annual Mulino Blues Festival.
It was during rehearsals for the MBF one year that Timothy said, “I want to do a song with you dad!” That was in 2011 and while he had learned some chords and strumming, it was that performance of Knocking on Heaven’s Door that really got him hooked. He continued to learn more and more about all things guitar and music and the next year got up solo and played two songs to an amazed crowd.
Over the next several years, Timothy attended local open mics and jam sessions honing his skills and learning new ones from the many seasoned players he was jamming with. It wasn’t long before his skills on the guitar had surpassed the Old Man’s so his dad hired a multi-instrumental teacher, Ken Brewer, to take him to the next level. He soon moved on to learn the Jazz Standards and improvisational techniques from Timmer Blakely. Timothy began to get noticed by other working musicians at the jams and before long he was being invited as a guest player for several paying gigs.
It was in 2016 that the family joined the Cascade Blues Association to sign Timothy up for the Journey to Memphis competition with the goal of playing during the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, a renowned contest that brings acts from around the world. Timothy was selected as the 2016 Youth Representative and competed in Memphis in February, 2017.