Guitarist, singer and songwriter Markus James, known for his West African-influenced blues stopped by the studio to chat with Dave on March 26th, before heading over to his show at Johnny D's later that night. James grew up in the Washington DC area where his first musical influence, when he was just four years old, was an old blind man playing the blues on the sidewalk. As an adult James made R&B and Rock music in Northern California, but it was on his 1994 trip to Mali that his current style began to develop. Since then he has studied, written and recorded with many Malian musicians including the "Malian Bluesman" Ali Farka Toure.
With him on percussion was Marlon Green, a drummer who toured with John Lee Hooker during the last year and a half of Hooker's life. Green approached the percussion for each song in a very unique style. Rather than using actual drums Green alternated between playing his knees, a stool, and even an upside down recycling bin. James played a gourd banjo he had built himself from a gourd, deer hide, and even Indian camel bone using a blue-glass slide on his pinky.
Markus James latest record, Head For the Hills was released on September 30th of last year and is currently available.